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Black History Month 2022 talks

Updated Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Watch the recorded presentations from The Open University’s Black History Month event in October 2022.

Union Black 

Our Union Black: Britain’s Black Culture and steps to anti-racism short course is part of a UK-wide initiative to tackle racial harassment in Higher Education. In this lecture Lurraine Jones, Deputy Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, shares insights and reflections on the importance of the Union Black, Britain’s Black Cultures and Steps to Anti-racism short course. 

Lurraine is Lead Academic on this course, which is a collaboration with Santander Universities to tackle racial harassment in Higher Education.  

Please follow this link to sign up and learn more Union Black: Britain’s Black cultures and steps to anti-racism 


Anti-racism in higher education 

How is your institution enabling Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students to thrive? Is your institution effectively tackling racism? Following the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, the Higher Education sector has started making bold commitments to dismantling structural racism. However, big questions remain about how Higher Education can combat institutional racism and achieve real change.  

This talk, led by Dr Arun Verma, Senior Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at the Royal Academy of Engineering, discusses his book, Anti-Racism in Higher Education: An Action Guide for Change. 

Dr Verma will endeavour to constructively disrupt the higher education sector through ambitious actions and collective, participatory and evidence-informed responses to racism. The talk will consider a roadmap for senior leaders, staff and students to build strategies, programmes and interventions that effectively tackle racism. Arising from current staff and recent student experiences, Dr Verma will delve further into the themes and changes the book recommends to enable and support institutions driving equality, diversity, inclusion and intersectional programmes in Higher Education.  


Black masculinity and sexuality: Justin Fashanu and media representations of his ‘coming out’ 

Justin Fashanu was a highly talented striker and the first major professional player to ‘come out’ as gay. Fashanu came out through an article in the tabloid newspaper The Sun. It became clear afterwards that he had been forced to do so by threats to ‘out’ him if he would not publicly acknowledge his sexuality himself. The media in the 1990s represented him in highly problematic ways, however this was also a period of collective action as some groups were able to put pressure on the media to drop homophobic reporting and offer more positive representation in their pages. 

This brief history of a key event of the 1990s comes from Anita N Pilgrim’s PhD thesis. 


Race equality at the OU (REC) 

This talk discusses the Open University’s membership and journey on the Race Equality Charter (REC). Advance HE’s REC is a self-assessment framework designed to improve the representation, progression, success and experience of racially minoritised staff and students within Higher Education Institutions. The OU will use the framework to identify barriers for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic staff and students and develop an action plan to address them. This event will introduce the REC and highlight opportunities and challenges for OU’s engagement with the Charter.  


Language and terminology 

This panel discussion with Rehana Awan, Mel Green, Mustafa Ali and Paulette Johnson will explore language and terminology as a changing landscape along with the history and context of some key terms.  


100 Black women professors now

The 100 Black Women Professors NOW programme aims to increase the diversity of the academic pipeline by providing opportunities to accelerate progress and make a meaningful difference, NOW. This is not about just 100 Black women professors; it’s about the first 100. In this session Marcia Wilson, Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, will give an overview of the programme and its importance in addressing inequality of opportunity. We will then hear from four women who have participated in the programme at the OU: Azumah Dennis, Paulette Johnson, Lystra Hagley-Dickinson and Miriam Amanze. 


Talking about race and mental health: Black students and mental health declarations 

Rehana Awan shares findings from a project she worked on with colleagues at The Open University looking at mental health declarations for Black students. 


How we can teach children about race and why it’s important that we do 

Mel Green’s presentation explores how children and young people learn about constructions of race and racism from early socialisation. She discusses ways that adults can approach racial dialogues with young people and how this will benefit children and their families in the long term.  


Do Black lives matter is contemporary sport? An update 

An update on the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in sport. 


Transculturation of the Black radical movement of hip hop Kulture in India 

Hip means to know and hop means to move. Hip Hop means knowledge movement. What is often simplified and misunderstood in the white mainstream as a musical genre celebrating misogyny, homophobia and violence, is in its roots a Black radical movement emerging out of the post-industrial apocalypse of the North American East Coast urban ghetto 

In the early 2000s, with the advent of the internet and 3G/4G infrastructures, breakin (known as ‘breakdancing’ outside of Hip Hop Kultural worlds) started to be practiced in urban India. Drawing on nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in Delhi in 2013, Jaspal will trace how Black radical thought and narratives ‘travel’ among Hip Hop Kultural practitioners in urban India.  


Olaudah Equiano: life in Cambridge and the abolition movement 

Carol is an Associate lecturer and Honorary Associate in the Department of Geography (FASS) and Global Studies. As a social anthropologist she is passionate about research, and has been conducting a research project on Olaudah Equiano’s life in Cambridge and his contribution to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. This project revealed fascinating insights into the social and working relationships between eighteenth-century free Black men in England, English scholars, and clergymen. The significance of this is their active involvement or connection with the transatlantic slave trade and enslavers.  

Carol’s goal is to inspire the academic and public community to increase their knowledge and explore past events in history.


Misogynoir: challenges in detecting intersectional hate 

Joseph Kwarteng is a PhD Researcher at the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) of The Open University and a member of the Social Data Science group. His research project is aimed at investigating Intersectionality in Hate Speech Detection with a focus on ‘Misogynoir’ - a unique form of misogyny experienced by Black women with the intersection of sexism and racism. His study explores how misogynoir manifests online and how it could be mitigated since existing technologies for hate speech detection do not address this type of hate and protect Black women accordingly.  




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