Black History Month
This page provides an overview of all known MPLS activity (and some University activity) for Black History Month 2023, along with use useful links and resources for further information. It will be updated as more events and resources become available.
October is Black History Month in the UK. This annual celebration promotes and celebrates Black contributions in British society, while also giving us the opportunity to examine and reflect on our history and commit to a better, fairer present and future. Originating in the United States in the 1920s and celebrated there in February, Black History Month came to the UK in the 1980s and has grown in scale ever since.
MPLS ED&I team Statement
While it is important to mark Black History Month itself, the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division’s commitment and actions aimed to support and celebrate Black mathematicians, scientists, students and professionals within our University communities and wider society goes beyond this limited timeframe.
Within the Division, we are striving for equity and inclusivity in everything we do. Our annual ED&I Training Programme includes ‘Anti-Racist’ and ‘Intersectional’ Allyship sessions alongside inclusive culture and effective bystander training, and our team are actively contributing to the central University’s Race Equality Charter submission. While our outgoing MPLS ED&I Action Plan (2021-23) included ‘race’-specific actions as well as intersectional actions, we commit to continue striving to improve the experiences of our staff and students through our new MPLS ED&I Action Plan, which is currently being developed. Our Beyond Boundaries project – which ran for the third time this year – encourages Oxfordshire state school children to engage with the incredible research of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic researchers. Meanwhile, we are currently reviewing our Diversifying STEM Curriculum project (which looks to diversify and decolonise the curriculum in specific STEM subjects) to make it more robust and relevant to our departments.
Black History Month 2023 Activity
There is a lot happening across the University and in MPLS to mark Black History Month. Here we have collated some of the initiatives and events you can get involved with in MPLS, as well as links to useful resources such as Networks and Groups, and further information. Click here to see the University’s webpage on Black History Month events.
If you would like to add anything to this page, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday 5 October 2023
‘Challenging Stereotypes’, with Dr. Juliet Chinasa Ojiako
This talk will showcase and celebrate black excellence in this Black History Month. Juliet’s bio is below:
“My name is Dr. Juliet Chinasa Ojiako. I bagged my PhD from Loughborough University in 2021 and worked as a STEM Engagement Specialist at Loughborough University before my Teaching role at Loughborough University. Winner of the Loughborough University Annual Mathematics Sir David Wallace Prize in 2019. Also, winner of the 2017 Institute of Physics (IOP) UK Poster competition. Keynote speaker at the IMA Conference and a Black hero of Mathematics.”
Thursday 12 October
Anti-Racist Allyship Training
We will look at what it means to be an Anti-Racist Ally, by considering the role that power, privilege (especially white privilege), and white fragility have and to feel confident using bystander interventions when needed.
Audience: Group leaders, Supervisors, Managers, HR leads, ED&I leads
Learning outcomes: To feel more confident actively acting as an Anti-Racist Ally. To have a better understanding of the role power, white privilege and white fragility have.
Thursday 12 October
Register: Email email@example.com
BIPOC STEM Network and Allies Social
This social will be a nice informal gathering ahead of the activities going on throughout black history month. We want to encourage members and allies to come along and also welcome newcomers who are interested in finding out about the network. The convenors of the network will be there and it will be a great opportunity to chat to us about the network and find out how to get involved.
Tuesday 17 October
BIPOC STEM Network Allies Book Club
We aim to platform BIPOC voices and encourage members to develop their own allyship without putting the onus on those from marginalised communities. This session will be an excellent entry point for new book club members and anyone who hasn’t discussed topics around race and racism before. The book club is a safe space: no one is expected to be an expert and the focus of the group is on continued self-learning and development.
During the event
We will be discussing, “Day 1: You and White Privilege” in Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, which can be accessed online here. Everyone who attends the discussion will receive a free copy of the book!
Thursday 19 October
Intersectional Allyship Training
We will look at what intersectionality is and how it plays out in our everyday lives. We will consider how many of us intersect and what that means for building an inclusive society. We will look at how power and privilege play their part and identify ways in which we can use both to support one another.
Audience: All staff and students
Learning outcomes: To better understand how intersectionality features in our lives. To better understand the role that power and privilege has.
Monday 23 October
Private screening and discussion of ‘Re:Tension’
Directed by Ricardo Barker, Re:Tension is a short 20 minute film that follows the character Thapelo, a bright and capable university student, on a day where he is unwittingly forced to question the judgements of his tutors and peers, and delve deeper into his own actions, choices and beliefs. Re:Tension addresses the topic of institutional racism and the gap in student retention amongst BAME (Black, Asian and Minority, Ethnic) students within British universities. The film was inspired by analysing statistical data that highlighted the unexplained dropout rate of BAME students. The film attempts to provide an real insight into unconscious racial harassment within the Higher Education system and the micro-aggressions that often go unnoticed.
Following the screening, we will have an audience-participative discussion with Ricardo Barker and staff/students at the University of Oxford.
Thursday 26 October
David Blackwell Lecture, with Prof Eric J Tchetgen
Monday 31 October
University Black History Month Annual Lecture
Hosted by the University, BME Staff Network and Mathematical Institute. Dr Christienna Fryar, writer and independent historian of Britain and the Caribbean, will deliver ‘Ann Pratt, Mary Seacole, and Questioning British History’ – telling the stories of two mixed-race Jamaican women and questioning the fraught relationship between British history and Black British history on 31 October.
Resources - both within MPLS and wider
There are lots of networks, groups and resources available all year round. We have highlighted many of these on the following pages:
- Networks and Groups: Lots of groups including the BIPOC STEM Network and BME Staff Network.
- Training: Highlighting in particular our anti-racist and intersectional allyship and creating inclusive cultures sessions.
- Other Resources and Information: Including resources in the Bodleian, guidance on being a responsible bystander, and the Race Equality Charter.