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Great article. I learned a lot from it. The repercussions of the altering of history still has major impacts in every single aspect of our lives even in Education (that is supposed to be accurate and truthful). Research suggests that across the HE sector there are differing attainment levels based on factors such as race, gender, socio-economics and ethnicity. The latter is of particular concern to universities that as an institution are proud of its ethnically diverse student body and commitment to equality and inclusion. Universities have set themselves targets to address the difference in attainment for BME and non-BME learners which is a positive move. The BME Attainment Gap BME attainment gap, refers to the difference in outcomes for BME and non-BME students and a complex set of issues that cannot be simply explained by differences in entry level qualifications. At present the BME attainment gap within the HE sector is 23%. Social inequalities provide a partial explanation for the gap with BME students others might include the challenges of finance and striking the balance between paid work and study. There is evidence to suggest that some BME students are more likely to undertake paid work more in order to make ends meet to the detriment of attendance. This is significant given the correlation between attendance and results. A recent exercise where posters were placed strategically in the University’s main corridor asked student’s to comment what they believed could help them enhance their university experience. One of the factors that was articulated time and time again was the sense of “exclusion”. Students, particularly from BME backgrounds, did not feel their cultural heritage was reflected in the current curriculum. They don’t believe that the current curriculum content provides a fair reflection of the wider student population with the current curriculum being taught ignoring issues of black culture heritage. These students believed the curriculum to be “white’. Whilst it is widely accepted that notions of “Race” are social constructs. I would argue it was not socially constructed benevolently – it was constructed to divide and order humans beings into a hierarchy. When the students who participated in this exercise referred to the “whiteness” of the curriculum, they were not referring themselves as people who are Caucasians but to power. Whiteness is an ideology construct which says that people who are Caucasian are morally and intellectually superior to people from different ethnicities. Students who participated also believed this position was reflected in course reading lists. For example, ideas tend to be from European male thinkers. The students were not advocating removing these thinkers from the curriculum for race sake as they would like a curriculum based on merit. However, they believe that the opinions given were from a myopic perspective and that other great thinkers are simply not included in the curriculum. If other cultures didn’t contribute to the development and growth of the world civilisation then this request could be seen as unreasonable however students know that it isn’t the case. The introduction of a black history MA program will interest black and non-black students. It also has the potential to provide BME students role models based on history and current affairs as well as presenting them with a wealth of information. Students will be able to learn about the contributions of their cultural heritage towards the history and civilisation of the world. This program will appeal to students from diverse sectors of the University including faculties such as arts, economics, science, philosophy or religion. Two events this year were organized with the help of KUSU and the Widening and Participation department: Renowned artist and MOBO award winner Akala impressed the many KU students and staff who attended his lesson on African History the 24th of February 2015 in the Clattern Lecture Theatre. The lecture titled ‘Africa in History’ explored the idea that much of the continent’s history has been distorted over thousands of years by historians and Hollywood. The lecture lasted for over two hours and ranged from ancient Egypt and slavery to obscure 16th century explorers and 13th century universities in Timbuktu. The content gave us a clear understanding of the contributions of Africa towards the development of the history of the world and civilisation. We also heard about imperialism and class. The main focus on Africa and Diasporic history and how the obscuring of past human possibilities affects our vision of today. In May, KRS-ONE gave a Hip-Hop master class lecture in the Clattern Lecture Theatre. KRS-ONE was named the “Consciousness of Hip-Hop” by Rolling Stones Magazine and his overall contributions to hip hop, the pioneering artist has been the recipient of numerous tributes and accolades, by the United Nations, VH1, Billboard magazine and Source Magazine, including BET’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and VH1’s 2004 Hip Hop Honors. Hip Hop is a cultural movement formed during the late 1960s among African Americans. Both these events were massive successes with great attendance and demand for materials. We’d like to continue promoting similar educational events. Way Forward/What Next? Subtitle needed We would like to build a program that includes lectures and seminars from KU and non KU staff. It will add a very credible and dynamic programme as we will benefit from the knowledge by KU staff such as Dr. Ware, Dr. Cappel and non KU staff such as Dr. Kehinde Andrews or even Akala as students will be able to hear different information and perspectives on a range of different topics which would also broaden the student experiences further. Even if we restricted our focus from 18th century to 21st century, there are various black personalities and organisations important in political history such as Malcolm X, Ella Baker Oludah Equiano, William Cuffay, and Henry Sylvester Williams and the Pan African Movement. In Literature, there were best-selling black writers such as Phillis Wheatley, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Mary Prince, the dramatic actor Ira Aldridge, and the Black Newspapers Africa and Orient Review and The Keys. In Music, there were black classical and popular musicians such as Ignatius Sancho, Professor Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson and Leslie ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. Universities brand themselves as a place for diversity and innovation however it’s not reflected it its teaachings. In the UK there’s currently on program related to Black History and it’s taught by Goldsmith university. Universities, as students, we believe should reflect the best in society and not reproduce certain inequalities. Only by implementing new measures which do not go against the dominant intellectual culture but simply enhance it by offering different perspectives can Universities genuinely build and inclusive and progressive environment for learning.
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Sep 6, 2015