Card image cap

 

NUSU Strongly Stands in Solidarity with its Black Student Community

In an undeniably overwhelming time for many of our student community, we want to reiterate that we’re here and are here to support you in any way we can. It’s so important that we all take a breath, look after ourselves and those around us. As a black student you may have already built ways of self-caring when you need it, but if you haven’t Sara, our Welfare and Equality Officer and social justice campaigner, has 4 quick tips that you may need to remind yourself of and we hope will help as a guide.

"To all my black brothers, sisters and peers, I feel your pain and I know the fight for equality is beyond exhausting. Remember, you are not here to be an educator to white people, you are not here to comfort anyone’s guilt and you are not here to be a spokesperson on blackness or racism. These choices should always be afforded by you. As we have said above, white people are more than capable of learning what racism and privilege means conceptually and how it translates to their lived experiences. Ensure you prioritise your wellbeing and allow yourself to feel any feelings that come up- whether that is irritation, anger, sadness, disillusionment. These are all valid feelings."

Sara Elkhawad
Welfare & Equality Officer 2019-20

You may be asked to answer questions or be a spokesperson on black issues. That is a choice that should always be afforded by you, so its ok to say no and allow others to talk about these issues if you are uncomfortable/ feel overwhelmed.

Building a community of other people who relate to your lived experiences is vital at this time. There is a resources list below to help you make contact with established student groups.

Just because more non-black allies are speaking out against racism doesn't mean you have to engage with it. Its overwhelming and its ok to take a break and switch off for hours or days

Take time to pause, relax and register some of the horrific events that are actually occurring. Prioritise yourself and your mental health and do things to allow you to de-stress.

Although there is far to go in supporting black students at Newcastle there are some safe spaces that you can access (listed in the next section).

 

We understand that this is all easier said than done, but we are here to help and guide you. If you have any other resources/advice on where we should be guiding our students during this time.

Please do get in touch with either Katie Smyth (President) at president.union@ncl.ac.uk or Sara Elkhawad (Welfare and Equality) at welfare.union@ncl.ac.uk. We’re always keen to learn, and find out about more amazing resources that are out there!  

There’s no doubt that the University has a long way to go, here’s an article from Sara and Katie:

Read the Article


 
NUSU Urges all Non-Black Students to Do More: Silence is Violence.

As non-black people, being anti-racist is not just about a hashtag or a trend but about truly being self-reflective, educating ourselves on black history and understanding white history and the privileges we benefit from, because of it. We must all learn how to be proactively antiracist and how best to support our black peers/family/friends.

I’m honoured to work with Sara, she educates, pushes and questions me on a daily basis and I’m incredibly lucky to have such a powerful black woman by my side. But this situation is taking its toll on our black friends and peers, give them permission to digest this heart-wrenching information. We non-black people are privileged to be surrounded by black people willing to educate us on the mistakes of our ancestors. We are privileged to not have lived experience, but to be able to ‘learn’ and ‘educate ourselves,’ so do so. We need to do this together, and seriously, non-black students, please do more, take time and educate yourself.

Sara Elkhawad, NUSU Welfare and Equality Officer and social justice campaigner has offered the following 5 points to help you become a better ally."

Katie Smyth
Students' Union President 2019-20

You don’t need black people to educate you, and please don’t expect that of them. This is a really difficult time for black people. There are hundreds of books, tv shows, films, articles to read to educate yourself. See the list of books here that you can access via the NCL library.

There's no right or wrong way to do this- whether this is signing petitions against police brutality, sharing things about white privilege on social media, going on organised (safe) protests. It's time to speak out.

haring graphic videos of police brutality and riots can be really triggering for black students and it's important to post these with caution (e.g. trigger warnings)

Don't try and overshare or follow trends if you dont understand them yourself. It's much better to take time and learn in private then rush into sharing- which can come across as aesthetic solidarity more than being an authentic ally. Learning about privilege/ racism is a journey, so be prepared for that.

Just a simple "I hope you're ok" or "I can't relate to your pain but I'm here for a chat" is important. The content being shared can be traumatic, emotional and overwhelming for black people and it's important to be emotionally available for black people at this time.

There are spaces that non-black people can get active in standing behind black people.  A good start in campaigning would be to look at anti-racism groups on campus and in the wider Newcastle community including Stand Up to Racism  & Newcastle Unites.

 

Call on yourself to act. Sign petitions, donate, and go to the demos, support the movement in the spaces you are in by making your own changes. Make the effort to recognise those deep ingrained feelings and thoughts that are not aggressive or hateful but discriminate nonetheless. Take every opportunity to learn about and to expose yourself to the rich benefits of a diverse society. Call out all forms of racism even the ones cloaked in ‘humour’ and the ones that all too often start with, “I’m not a racist but…” 

Please do get in touch with either Katie Smyth (President) or Sara Elkhawad (Welfare and Equality). We’re always keen to learn, and find out about more amazing resources that are out there! There’s no doubt that the University has a long way to go, here’s an article from Sara and Katie.