Black History Month in the UK which provides us with an opportunity to reflect and recognise the contributions of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Originating in the US in the month of February, Black History Month is now celebrated across the globe. Today we talk to some of our BAME advocates at The University of Law.
Kamal Ahmad, who is studying the GDL at our Birmingham campus spoke to us about being a ULaw BAME Advocate.
I am an International black student which naturally came with its challenges in terms of assimilating into a university environment and finding a job. I felt that being a BAME Advocate gave me an opportunity to help the university understand the challenges associated with being an international student at ULaw. I also wanted to do some work around finding jobs for BAME students given the large disparity between white and BAME students in the legal sector.
I hope to improve the experiences of BAME students both during their time at ULaw and when looking for a job. Hopefully through more inclusive policies, teaching will be done in a way that is more digestible for BAME students and, in turn, will result in better grades for these students. Consequently, they will have more confidence when applying for jobs which can increase the number of BAME students at law firms. Ultimately, it’s about improving the overall experience of BAME students at ULaw.
I think it’s important to acknowledge some of the important black figures that have contributed to the development of the UK but have not received the recognition they deserve. Black History Month gives us an opportunity to highlight these people at a time where the wider public is more open to learning about them. The hope is that at some point, we would be able to talk about these people without the banner of Black History Month behind it.
We also spoke to LPC student, Courtney Brotherson, who studies at our Moorgate campus in London.
I’ve always had an interest in discovering the stories and experiences of people who have traditionally been overlooked. I studied History at my previous university, and it was clear from the content of the course and the makeup of people on the course that certain experiences were overlooked. When I saw this role at ULaw, I was excited to contribute my ideas for change and have a real impact on university policy and practices for the benefit of BAME students.
My aim is that the projects BAME Advocates have created, contributed to and delivered have a genuine, tangible impact on the lived experiences of BAME students and their academic outcomes. I hope that the insights and suggestions we have given to the university are continuously carried forward and used to improve the many BAME student experiences we have on our campuses. I hope that this role encourages other students to speak out and educate themselves on experiences outside of their own.
BAME Advocates have worked on a number of projects for Black History Month such as creating a newsletter and conducting interviews with Black members of staff at the university. Personally, I have been taking the time to learn more about my own history, particularly Caribbean food history! My baking Instagram page with my sister became an ode to traditional Caribbean bakes, which was really fun to do.
Black History Month is important for societies like ours where there is a general lack of acknowledgment of people who are viewed to be different. It serves as a reminder that these people and stories, hidden from mainstream learning, are equal contributors to the world we live in as those we already know a lot about. Black History Month encourages those who don’t know to learn, those who don’t care to start listening and those who are tied to the history, to wholly embrace it.
You can learn more about the support we provide for those who identify as BAME, on our website here.