Hello Black Lives Matter-LSHTM community, and welcome back.
We hope you have all had a safe, healthy and enjoyable break, despite the difficult times. We wanted to start things off right this year, and that means getting you up to speed on what we’ve been up to since our last newsletter.
Seminar: Designing an inclusive and anti-racist summer project: questions and reflections
Last 10 December, the FAIR Network hosted four amazing speakers representing different LSHTM departments: Dr. Yang Liu, Denise Ndlovu, Dr. Sham Lal, and Lulu Middleton, who generously shared their time and their insight for MSc students who want to ensure that they write an inclusive and anti-racist summer project. If you missed it the first time around, you can see the recording here. Our website also has a few recommended resources with plenty of food for thought for researchers interested in critically examining and uprooting racial bias in public health.
New points of reference in the FAIR Network
FAIR is conceived as a network because we know just how many disparate points of the LSHTM universe are waiting to form part of a constellation. Over the month of December, different people from the Centre for Evaluation and the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, among others, have reached out to see how they can better integrate anti-racism into their work and programmes. We really look forward to working with all of them and will keep you posted on progress.
Racism in research: the personal, institutional and societal costs. After some of our community members shared their experiences with racism during their research projects on our Whatsapp groups, we took a moment to reflect on the real costs of both overt and unconscious biases in the research sphere. The people targeted suffer unnecessary pain, distress, and persistent anxiety, while community trust in institutions is eroded, and the society at large is robbed of valuable contributions and underrepresented perspectives.
Random and normalised acts of racism make up for institutionalised racism. This is an intimate, raw account of a random act of hate and the reverberations it has on a person’s well-being and mental health. As we say goodbye to a year that’s been hard on everyone, let’s take a moment to reflect on our role in creating, condoning, and consenting to an environment where these painful experiences are even possible. The New Year is also a good opportunity to resolve to hold ourselves and others accountable for preventing these incidents and making sure that our own circles are hostile only towards racism, not people who are racialized.
Participation in the RED Accountability Group
In parts 2 & 3 of our anti-racism toolkit, we voiced our deep apprehension about the School’s efforts to tackle racism through a special interest committee with no real power or ownership from LSHTM departments or leadership. Unfortunately, our participation as observers has done nothing to quell those reservations, so we are taking a step back. In the new year, we will be focusing on positive initiatives we firmly believe in, both those we organize ourselves and others emerging from different parts of our networks.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
If you’re on our Whatsapp groups (links below), you may have seen that we have been spreading the word about different job opportunities that explicitly welcome racially minoritized candidates to apply. A few postings that have come our way:
● Assistant/Associate Professor – Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
● 2 Research Fellow vacancies in Sexual and Reproductive Health.
● Associate Professor or Professor in Humanitarian Public Health.
● Lecturers and practical facilitators for the 200-student module Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (D2 term). Open to LSHTM staff and advanced doctoral students. Contact: Francesco.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We have also been in touch with HR about taking full advantage of LSHTM professional networks (for example through LinkedIn) to advertise vacancies, and we’re happy to see that they’re taking steps to improve EDI practices in recruitment and hiring.
Some reading recommendations for these long winter days:
1. A Continent where the dead are not counted by Ruth Maclean, the West Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, based in Senegal in the New York Times
Start with a “typical very colonial article” that we would categorize under How NOT to report about the African continent - From the title to some of the content, read it, learn about mortality surveillance and try to identify what is wrong about this type of reporting. If you are not sure, Twitter has a thing or two to say about it and you can read Kenyan reporter Larry Madowo’s response here.
2. The Western Gaze: Why Should the West Validate African Realities? By Socrates Mbamalu in This is Africa
For many Africans, Western countries continue to represent a certain standard they aspire to. The validation of our experiences, reality, history, cultures, art, music, icons, heroes and heroines continues to be through Western lens and standards.
Problems with current categorisations include: masking the centering of Whiteness, flattening or erasing difference and masking inequality, all of which make data interpretation and policy-making less effective for certain populations.
Minoritised can be a more useful term as it describes intersectional forms of discrimination, and acknowledges the active processes involved in differential allocations of power, resources and ultimately health.
Categorisations can be helpful in data collection and research but should be as specific and locally appropriate as possible.