We’re already half way through the first week of a new month, yet what happened over the last weekend of November has followed me through into a new week and a new month, demanding not to become a distant memory.
The NUS Black Students’ Campaign Winter Conference took place at the Institute of Education on the 30th – 1st December. The perfect way to end November when I started this blog to vent my frustrations about being a student, and a great way start a new Month motivated and inspired to tackle the obstacles that make me the Educationally Frustrated student!
Before this event, I had never been involved in any student campaigns – I was the freshie in the room! In fact I didn’t know that my SU (Student Union) was approachable. I had thought the SU was there to encourage students to join societies, like I had joined the Netball club last year. It wasn’t until I went onto the NUS website to buy my NUS Extra card (a girl needs her student discounts you know), that I was directed onto my SU homepage SUARTS and I saw a picture of my representatives – finally!… Except they didn’t look like me so how could they be representing me? I took to tweeter my frustration and it wasn’t long before the President of SUARTS, Shelly Asquith, tweeted me personally for a meet-up to discuss how I could get involved… And the rest you can say, is history! Had I not tweeted, I wouldn’t have ended up at the NUS Black Students Winter Conference!
Linda Bellos OBE (humorously admitted the Order of British Empire is a status she accepted just to make her family proud), made an important point regarding the word “Black”. She said African and Caribbean people should refrain from calling themselves black, and rather use African – our direct ancestral heritage. As she put it her straight-faced way; “People from the Caribbean are African. They didn’t just turn up there on holiday!”
“Black” in a political sense is inclusive of African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean people. So though I couldn’t tell from the picture, I’m thankful to have discovered that we do have a Black representative in my SU. I met the Culture and Diversity SUARTS officer Mostafa Rajaai, for the first time at the event. Mostafa is Iranian and studied BA Photography at LCC. It was great speaking to someone who could empathise with my struggles as a Black student. He actually encouraged me to stay frustrated as it would evoke action… I would never have thought to put it that way! Thanks for the enlightenment Mostafa!
If you haven’t already, I encourage every student to get involved with their SU. Also keep an eye on the NUS website for nationwide campaigns!
Here are some of my highlights from the event:
Before I even had a chance to glance over the agenda to note who our speakers were, there stood the Keynote speaker Diane Abbot MP in front of me. I was starstruck at the very beginning of the event and rightly so. “Starstruck” shouldn’t just be reserved for actors, singers and reality stars. Diane Abbott is a celebrity in her own right – the first Black woman to be elected into the House of Commons (plus I’ve seen her on TV a few times so she’s definitely famous by my definition)! Diane Abbott spoke to the room full of students passing on her wisdom to us as though we were her own – family. It wouldn’t have felt out-of-place if I called her Aunty Diane (but of course I didn’t)! We were encouraged to strive for what we want; “What you desire, you can achieve… If you choose not to accept societies representation of you.” She touched on the challenging world facing us after graduation. “…A very adverse time for people of colour impartially”, and what the recession is doing to society; Recession = People turning against “the other”. Diane Abbott didn’t end without mentioning the ‘F’ word to us ladies… If we believe in equality between men and woman then we should all be proud “FEMINISTS”! @HackneyAbbott
I’m no stranger to Akala‘s music, the younger brother of UK garage superstar Ms. Dynamite. The rapper from NW passed through the conference on his way up to Oxford over the weekend. He blessed us with his conscience lyrics amongst which encouraged us to “read read read” and know our History because knowledge is Power. I’m still on a high from his performance! @akalamusic
Check out this song Malcolm Said It (Lyric video)
Black Activist Lee Jasper gave the closing words on Saturday reminding us that votes count, we should stand united and we should reconnect with our historical roots. @LeeJasper
Another gifted brother expressed his talent through his gift of spoken word. Ibrahim Sincere performed “By Any Means Necessary (white supremacy) on saturday night at the open mic. His words still resonate… Check out the video! @IbrahimSincere
I had to get a picture with the President of the NUS Black Students, Aaron Kiely! Despite him being busy at the end of the conference, Aaron kindly obliged. From our introduction on #tweeter just a couple of days prior thanks to Shelly Asquith, President of SUARTS (University of the Arts London Students’ Union), to meeting at the nusBSC13, Aaron has been so warm and hospitable. I felt like part of the family even though I’ve never been involved in any Black Student Campaigns… But all that will change now of course. Also a very big thank you to all the committee members that spoke to me, motivated me with their strong words and actions, and most importantly inspired me to do and achieve more.
Here’s a group picture of my new nusBSC family taken on the last day of the conference. Over all, about 130 BME students from 60 Educational Institutes from across the country attended the event! Together we’re stronger in numbers… #Solidarity!
Thank you to all the panelist who spoke and inspired me to take action! Can’t wait to see how far I’ve come this time next year!…
Follow my journey on this blog!
the EFed student
- A black winter weekend with NUS (theefedstudent.wordpress.com)
- ‘EFed’ if I do, ‘F***ed’ if I don’t! (theefedstudent.wordpress.com)
- Wrapping up November… Actions speak louder than words (theefedstudent.wordpress.com)
- NUS Delegate Election: Should we care? (newguildgossip.wordpress.com)