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Why Do Dead Old White Men Continue to Dominate Our Curriculum? Universities Need to Do Better for Students of Colour

08/04/2016 16:39 | Updated 11 April 2016

Whilst some may think that we are moving towards a post-racial society, this assumption is based purely on fairy tales, myths and fantasies. In 2016 racism is still present in all institutions, including higher education.

When I joined Warwick University I was certain that I was going to have issues regarding racism, because I've experienced it throughout my life in the UK, and have become somewhat used to it. From Year 1 to Year 13 all I learnt about being black, and about black history, was that slavery took place, and Martin Luther King saved the day. This experience is unfortunately true for many BME students across the country.

There are more black men in prisons than in Russell Group Universities. Students of colour are still less likely to get a grad job compared to their white peers. It is unfair and inaccurate that this post-racial narrative is still being perpetuated when, if anything, the situation is getting worse.This is the same for many students of colour who are scared to speak up against racism in fear that they may be labelled as extreme, or angry. We have the right to be angry when students at prestigious universities, such as Warwick, continue to subscribe to these caricatured stereotypes about people of colour.

At the end of the day, we all came to university to learn, to grow, and to change. This cannot take place in environments that insist on using diversity as nothing more than a fashionable buzzword. Institutions of higher education have a long way to go before they can claim to have improved the experiences of students of colour. We are too often silenced, or marginalised for campaigning to have a space in which we can openly discuss these issues, often by angry liberals who say that we're destroying the concept of freedom of speech. Actually, we are doing the exact opposite. We want to open up this conversation regarding racism, but it should never be done at the expense of our costly degrees.

Since I have been at Warwick I have not been taught by one person of colour, let alone a black person. The lack of representation in academia is worrying, and we need to ask why it is that BME students do not want to, or are unable to, pursue academic careers. Universities need to acknowledge that racism is very much alive, and that far more needs to be done. This can be tackled if these institutions choose to work with liberation societies and students who want to make this change (and who would be very glad to meet with the necessary powers in order to discuss possible solutions.)

Various campaigns across the UK are being established in order to tackle pervasive institutional racism. Having a liberated curriculum would benefit all students, and wider society, as it would enable us to learn more about the experiences and rich histories of all students. Our curriculum should reflect our diverse and multicultural society. This, in turn, will help us to tackle discrimination.

It is most unfortunate that we are only listened to when reputation is at stake, because the word 'racist' is hash-tagged in embarrassing proximity to the university name on twitter.

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