Minority Student Union Webinar

Since November 2020 the leaders of Alleyn’s Minority Student Union (MSU) have been planning our webinar, ‘What’s Next? Our Hope as We Leave 2020 and Embark on 2021’. This came after the success of the first webinar, which addressed the death of George Floyd, how it feels being a person of colour in predominantly white institutions (PWIs) and a general support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, now on its eighth year. We decided the date, Saturday 23 January, and contacted students involved in their respective MSUs and Afro-Caribbean Societies (ACSs), comprising of The Charter School North Dulwich, JAGS and Dulwich College.  

Several meetings took place with the panel, deciding the seven topics they would be speaking about, ranging from a How-To Guide for School’s on fulfilling their calls for Diversity and Inclusion to the Impact of Colonialism on Contemporary Society. No topic was too contentious because this was a webinar to uplift the voices of Black and Brown students without having to censor ourselves. It began with a video to Stormzy’s uplifting song, Superheroes with 11 students responding to the question, ‘When did you realise change was needed?’ Then, as more and more people filled the virtual room, Jonathan (Co-Chair of MSU) introduced the panel. The discussion began with Eliab and I talking about the recent lack of momentum with regard to the BLM movement, as well as generally in terms of making a change. Here is a snippet of what was said: 

‘In a broader sense, it is inevitable to lose momentum when the only time we are seeing BLM over the news is when there is a racially-motivated death or incident, and BLM arises in response to those events, and rarely because they have been the forefront of direct change in black communities. Thus, if the nature of these issues only arise in fluctuations this means that it makes it a lot harder to maintain a base level of momentum.’- Eliab 

‘…Conversation should not just be had between those who are marginalised, because that’s the whole point, for centuries the opinions of people of darker skin has been seen as peripheral. Therefore, now, in our time, everyone’s opinions are so important. To form an opinion, you actually have to question your thoughts, and research and listen and learn’ - Esther 

Sixty minutes passed extremely quickly, and after encouraging the audience of more than 150 people to voice their thoughts throughout the discussion in the chat section of Teams, it was time to respond to their questions and opinions. Many found this to be the most crucial and informative part of the event. It was important to see that despite the whole panel being people of colour, all of us hold different opinions because our life experiences are so diverse. 

The poster said it would be a ‘brutally honest, imperative and inspiring discussion’, and it was that exactly. 

Esther A (MSU Chair) 

 

Comments from Attendees 

‘Thank you to all panellists for personifying one of the most impactful thoughts in Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem - "There is always light, if we're brave enough to see it. If we are brave enough to be it." Thank you all for being brave enough to be it.’ Gina Visram 

 

‘I've found it illuminating and inspiring. Moving too. Sincere thanks to all contributors and organisers. We've clearly all got work to do...!’ Jane Lunnon 

 

‘I have to add - this for me is the change - thank you all for bringing it to us and our community’ – Karthikeyan Sri  

 

‘Well done, panellists. This webinar needs to be shown to a wider audience - especially to those who want to be an ally but don't know HOW to help! What is the next step for you now?’ 

 

‘Thank you, it’s been really interesting and great to have black thoughts vocalised on a school platform.’ 

 

‘Thank you to all the fantastic panellists for a really interesting discussion - you give me hope for the future.’ 

 

‘I’d really like to thank all the speakers today. This has been by far the best educational event on racism I’ve ever attended.’ 

 

WEBINAR AGENDA 

14:00  Video 

14:04  Introduction by Jonathan W 

14:05  Eliab Gand Esther A: Loss of Momentum 

14:12  Cleo K, Grace F and Neneh B: ‘The Black Square’ 

14:19  Arjaan M: Advice to Schools 

14:26  Sula D-P: Black Women and Intersectional Feminism 

14:33  Cleo K, Grace F and Neneh B: Racism in Healthcare 

14:40  Mahalia N B: Colonial History and its Impact on Contemporary Society 

14:47  Amjad K and David D: The Role of Students in Carrying the Anti-Racism  Agenda Forward 

14:54  All-panel discussion 

15:05  Q&A Section