School of Arts and Black Lives Matter
The recent Black Lives Matter protests have challenged people across the world, and especially in Bristol, to reflect on their local practices and modes of thought in relation to race. The School of Arts wishes to express its unequivocal support for BLM and for the principles of equality, non-discrimination, inclusion and appreciation of diversity.
In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, we have received many requests from staff and students who want to be more engaged in building an actively antiracist school that addresses systemic inequalities and supports BAME staff and students, some of whom have been working to make these changes for a long time. We still have a lot of work to do, and there are deep structural inequalities in academia—for example, fewer than 1% of UK Professors are black while 85% are white, and BAME attainment gaps are stark. Among the professional staff the ratios for BAME employment are also far too low.
The School of Arts, comprised of professional staff and of the departments of Anthropology and Archaeology, Film and Television, Music, Philosophy, and Theatre, acknowledges the long-term hurt and damage caused by racism, institutionalised and individual. We strongly support the university’s endeavour to scrutinise its past and recognise the need to reflect and act proactively now. As a school, we work with people of many ethnicities and study different cultures. Every member of our community has a part to play in challenging racism.
The School of Arts prides itself on its rich array of disciplines, approaches, and creative practices. It has put inclusion at the core of its activities through encouraging students to think critically and to create through thinking politically, whether in film and television, theatre, music, philosophy, archaeology, or anthropology. We are committed to the Faculty of Arts’ Inclusion Guidelines, ensure that minority voices are heard through our School EDI Committee, and seeks ways of increasing diversity through staff and student recruitment.
We have done much to promote diversity and inclusion within our curriculum, for example, by revising reading lists regularly, to ensure they reflect the diversity of researchers, histories and practices within our respective fields. We strongly encourage colleagues to revisit all course content, to ensure that the performers, texts, authors, theorists and practitioners chosen for study include a diverse range of voices and counter-stereotypical exemplars.
We will also teach EDI as a transferable skill on our degree programmes and make it an integral part of our decision-making processes as a School.
There still is a lack of diversity among the student and staff bodies in our School. We are committed to making students and staff of all ethnicities and nationalities feel welcome and included. We will work with the University of Bristol Student Union and other internal bodies to ensure that we do so.
In this spirit, and with a genuine desire to learn, understand, and improve, we invite our students and colleagues to send us suggestions for further action. We are listening.
We stand with our BAME staff and students and with all other minorities against all forms of racism.