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Black solidarity

26 January 2017

'I think it is accepted that racism is unacceptable and so it is hidden so even the perpetrator may not be aware of the underlying motivation for their actions. People will find other justification for their behaviour that are not racist so it is hard to recognise.'

Head of Department in Higher Education (5-10 years)

When we asked people if they were confident about identifying racism in their workplaces, quite a lot were offended. Of course I know what racism looks like, don't I see and feel it everyday? But some others saw workplace racism as a more mysterious beast - often present but submerged, disguised, wearing the clothes of bureaucracy or procedure. Sometimes maybe even the racists themselves don't know it is racism.

Being around other black staff is important as a way of not doubting your own gut feelings. We may all be very different, with differing beliefs and politics and takes on what is happening and what should be done, but in the main we all know that moment of doubt when hidden (or not so hidden) racism's pull us down. If nothing else, making connections with other black staff gives us a chance to check our reality.

On 8th February (UCU Day of Action Against Workplace Racism):

  • Speak to at least one 'new to you' black colleague - maybe ask if they know that it is the day of action against workplace racism;
  • Find out if there is a black staff group - or suggest that one is formed;
  • Identify one shared experience among black staff to pursue through the union.

If you can manage nothing else, practice looking delighted when you see another black colleague and let them see your delight. Our enemies will think that we have a plan ...

Gargi Bhattacharyya (UCU Black Members' Standing Committee)

Last updated: 26 January 2017