On May 25, 2020, a man named George Floyd was murdered on the street in Minneapolis by a now-former police officer. He was held down with a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes – begging for breath, and for his life.
His death has sparked a vital conversation around systemic racial inequalities across the globe, as well as the need to challenge injustice. We must learn, take action, and never simplify the story. Token statements cannot resolve these issues, but knowledge, ideas, sacrifices, and an awareness of our responsibility and complicity can.
We at Roar News, The Oxford Blue, The Strand Magazine, The Boar, The Saint, The Gaudie, London Student, The Stag, The Teeming Mass, Concrete, Varsity, and Forge Press stand together in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We must take the steps necessary to bring about change. We should all have the right to live, the right to exist – the right to breathe. We are all responsible and must all work together to make a change.
In many cases, issues of racial inequality run through the core of academic study and student life. Below this statement is a template letter you can send to your university chancellors and heads of department to call for action. The letter encourages changes to the curriculum and for anti-racist resources to be made available to all students.
We have also put together a collection of literature and other media related to anti-racism, which we hope will be helpful for all. This list, like others, is far from complete, but it is crucial that we engage in as much learning as possible. By working collectively, we can educate one another, bring about change, and make our voices heard.
Now is the time to take a stand. To remain silent protects a system that perpetuates injustice. Have overdue discussions with your friends and families. Condemn racist actions and unprovoked police violence against civilians and journalists. Sign petitions, and if you are in the position to do so, donate to charitable organisations in need. Protest safely, and protest loudly.
We encourage any and all fellow student publications to join us in standing with this movement.
The Oxford Blue Editorial Team
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Written by award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race touches upon everything from whitewashed feminism to the politics of eradicated black history. It is widely acclaimed and largely considered “essential” to helping understand the nature of race relations in the United Kingdom – where the author is based.
When They See Us – Ava DuVernay
This 2019 Netflix miniseries is based on the events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case, which saw five male POCs falsely accused of (and further prosecuted on grounds of) rape in New York. It revolves around the lives of the suspects and their families in an attempt to depict their struggles and evoke empathy. Because of its powerful depiction of the large-scale legal failure, the series has been nominated for various awards and has had its fair share of controversy – Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor of the original case, filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix and DuVernay in its wake.
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala
The Sunday Times bestseller focuses on the author’s own experiences regarding race and racism. Akala, who is a renowned British musician and journalist, uses the personal as a lens for analysing the political – in this case, the global phenomenon of racism. The book touches upon sensitive topics such as police brutality and objectification, and “speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class.”
Black Skin, White Masks – Frantz Fanon
Written by Martinique political philosopher and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks discusses and critiques racism and its dehumanising effects, particularly in regard to colonialism. Fanon presents his own experiences alongside historical precedent, utilising his background to psychoanalyse the conditions which often result from systemic racial discrimination.
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Presented as a series of letters, The Color Purple depicts the life, trauma, and eventual triumph of a young African-American girl in 1930s America. While the novel also addresses themes of gender equality, its primary focus is racial discrimination. Though Pulitzer Prize-winning and generally critically acclaimed, is has also been the subject of controversy – The Color Purple is #17 on the American Library Association’s list of “Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009”. It is often censored or removed from educational reading lists entirely.
13th – Ava DuVernay
This 2016 documentary explores “the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States,” with the title being a reference to U.S. Constitutional Amendment which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. The film argues that slavery was merely replaced by systemic policies which directly or indirectly target the African-American population, and is critically acclaimed, with a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.