Follow up - Testimony - 16 months to nowhere - 48 hours later
** A formal investigation has now been open to investigate some of the racists acts described in the previous email. As always, we will not be sharing names but if you recognised some of the events described in the Monday's post and want to corroborate in order to help, support fellow students and further dismiss and nip in the bud the accusations of defamation use Report and Support: https://reportandsupport.lshtm.ac.uk/ or feel free to reach out to the FAIR Network or the School directly. (whatever you prefer)
Dear BLM-LSHTM Community,
Transparency being one of our core value, we wanted to update you on the events that occurred over the last 48 hours. We seriously never planned or considered such outcomes and reactions (the positives and negative) but this is truly an important and teachable moment for all of us as a community.
The letter below was sent this morning.
Following the below email, we want to clarify the objective of our last communication. Although abhorrent, [Dr. XXX]’ alleged actions were not our only - or even our primary - focus. Rather, we aimed to highlight the shockingly lengthy process to address complaints of racism and the absence of any concrete resolution or outcomes.
The lack of trust and existing tools offered to students and staff places considerable burden on them to proactively manage and properly resolve these kinds of issues. Greater institutional support is essential to tackle individual complaints and structural racism.
Students, like other victims of abuse, should not be asked to confront their attackers. It is the responsibility of the institution to protect them. At the same time, and as discussed with SLT members, a robust reporting system should be leveraged as a learning tool. It's time to normalise calling out racism wherever it resides. Being called a racist or being called out for perpetrating racist acts is not the worst thing that could ever happen. Most often, it indicates the need for greater reflection, awareness and education. Defensiveness is not called for; growth and restorative justice are.
[Dr. XXX] feels unfairly targeted by our words. We understand. Black people have a long history of wrongful conviction. If the alumna’s testimony were fabricated, we would support [Dr. XXX] in [their] efforts to clear [their] name. At the same time, accusing Black students and the Black Lives Matter collective of publishing false and malicious content carries a heavy weight. An unwillingness to properly engage with and reflect on student complaints and concerns about racism reflects poorly on other staff and the institution itself. If each time white educators are called out for racism, they dismiss their responsibility and threaten legal action, racial equity will never be achieved.
Since the publication of a fully anonymized blog post, where the email was altered and gender neutral pronouns were used, we immediately received further accounts from other students who believed they recognised the events described. We have shared those accounts with the School and will inform the students of the options now available to them.
The consequences of such testimonies in the wrong hands could be devastating for the School’s reputation and income, particularly in a period of financial instability. Therefore, we will not publish them or disseminate them through our networks. We ask only that you ensure that staff and students do not end up bearing the cost of the colonial and racist practices of a few bad actors. It would be greatly unfair to the many people who have been working tirelessly to improve curriculum and practices at LSHTM over the past months.
We also emphasise that we are not inviting students to share anything with us or actively investigating any events. The FAIR Network does not support any form of tragedy porn that focuses on exposing the traumatic experiences of minoritised people to provoke action or sympathy, nor do we wish to give the impression that we hold any power in the resolution of the issues shared. We were so heartbroken to see students’ reluctance to use LSHTM’s reporting system due to fear of losing jobs or opportunities and their need to negotiate moral values and livelihood in a context as difficult as the current pandemic.
The fact that multiple students had the courage to come forward through the FAIR Network is some consolation, and we hope that we can mediate for them as they deserve, ensuring their voices are heard and their identities are protected. Until LSHTM develops an independent anti-racism process, focused on protecting vulnerable staff, students and alumni, the FAIR Network will remain a tool of crisis mitigation.
Again, we have never claimed to be anything more than a safe space and an accountability partner. However, it is important to highlight that the FAIR Network, an external, grassroots collective, has been forced to carry the responsibilities that LSHTM as an institution have failed to uphold for 16 months (far longer when considering the complaints from past cohorts). The reactions and testimonies that have poured into our mailbox over the past 48 hours have made it clear that students desperately need to be given a real, legitimised voice within LSHTM. Moreover, their commitment to making the School a better learning environment for all is admirable. We hope now that the School leadership will finally take notice, and begin to right these wrongs.
Black Lives Matter is about equal chances, equal access, equal opportunities and not about mob justice. We cannot and won’t deny the difference between ignorance and intent but the focus is never and will never be on one person but always on improving institutional practices.
The Fair Network
#whiteprivilege #defamationthreats #restorativejustice #Racism #ProtectBlackStudents