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BME Student Empowerment Workshops

Senior Fellows Alia Schwelling and Yaşar Ohle believe that it is of fundamental importance to tackle the issues of racism. However, tackling racist behavior on a university campus primarily requires work with white academia to restructure programs and request additional narratives. Alia and Yaşar then decided to structure workshops that provided access to safe spaces to share experiences and reflect on thoughts.

For Alia and Yaşar these workshops served as a first step to creating a more inclusive environment on campus by providing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students the tools to increase their agency and take control through self-determination and personal fulfillment.

The two empowerment-workshops were targeted towards students of color and presented in association with the SOAS University London’s Student Union. A heterogeneous group in which they sought similarities amongst their cultural differences.

Discussions on the reproduction of racism: What hurts others, what hurts us?

Discussions on the reproduction of racism: What hurts others, what hurts us?, were facilitated by Anne Chebu a journalist, TV-presenter and author of “Anleitung zum Schwarzsein.” As well as a space for discussion, the workshops also became a platform for students to connect and build a network.

The workshops created a more inclusive environment on campus by providing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students the tools to increase their agency and take control through self-determination.

University can often be a difficult space to navigate. Racism, sexism, classism etc. both inside and outside of the classroom can weigh down on oneself in ways that could affect performance, self-confidence and opportunities for growth. The Workshops aimed at improving the experience for BME students through access to safe spaces and empowerment. While racism remains a structural problem, empowerment of BME students can serve as a first step to create a more inclusive environment on university campuses by providing BME students tools for more agency.