Today sees the start of Black History Month (BHM) in the United Kingdom, a month that celebrates the contributions and achievements of black people and communities, not only nationally but internationally. It is celebrated during February in the USA and Canada, but during October in the UK and some other countries.
BHM is about looking back and celebrating black history, traditions and legacies, recognising that these may have been misrepresented, misunderstood, or misappropriated. Equally, and particularly in the wake of racist events in the USA, here in the UK and elsewhere, we must also look at our present situation and consider our direction of travel.
As we learned and are learning from reflections on our own history and environment, whilst there is much to celebrate, there is also much to be done. Our proportion of students who are BAME may be increasing, but, as the work plan emerging from the RVC Racial Equality Task Group (RETG) which is comprised of RVC staff, Students’ Union and Animal Aspirations representatives, makes clear, there is so much more to do. We must ensure that these students are truly treated equally in every aspect of their time at RVC and beyond. Please look out for email updates from the RETG which also contain information on how to contribute to their work. Details on their progress can be found here.
The RVC, RVC SU and Animal Aspirations are all working to stage a series of events that will celebrate the invaluable contributions, experiences and heritage of our African-Caribbean community. These will include resources for students and staff, inviting keynote speakers and creating important discussion forums. Do please keep an eye out for these on Message of the Day and social media and we invite you all to participate as you can, noting that we are still distributed across the globe.
Recognising that we are an increasingly diverse community, and that we must look beyond the majority “veterinary” focus of our organisation, it is nevertheless important that we acknowledge the real challenges that need addressing. To this end, a webinar was convened on the eve of BHM by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, chaired by President Mandisa Green, during which we heard from a number of speakers including international experts, members of cognate professions and student leaders from the UK, in what was an excellent session with more to follow.
In the meantime, please do join us in celebrating Black History Month, supporting the work of our RETG and embrace the importance of continuing our work towards making RVC anti-racist and truly reflective of the communities we serve.
Olivia Craddock (SU Equality and Diversity Officer); Quentin Wedmore (SU President) Christine Thuranira-McKeever (Chair, Equality & Diversity Committee); Stuart WJ Reid (Principal)