EDI Collective

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Collective in School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester

We are the EDI Collective – a new student-led group to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Manchester.


We aim:

  • To Act as a body body to which students can report incidents of racism and discrimination.
  • To Actively respond to such incidents by communicating with the appropriate departments/ members of staff and seek disciplinary action against the perpetrators involved.
  • To Advocate greater awareness of differing experiences of Ethnic Minority students.
  • To Promote a culture of greater inclusion and consciousness of Ethnic Minority students in lecturers and classes. 
  • To Commit to promoting the decolonization of curriculums in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

More About Who We Are

Our collective is made up of students from across the School of Arts, Languages and Culture and is multi-ethnic. We believe it is important that students support other students. We aim to tackle fundamental cultural and political issues, which are not only present within wider society but in our University, too.

We want our collective to be seen as a place of support and help. We understand that approaching University leaders and academic staff can be daunting. So, we want to make this process as easy for you as possible. 

Furthermore, we seek to advocate greater awareness of differing experiences of Ethnic Minority students by reporting to the SALC Committee of inclusion. We endeavor to become the voice for SALC students, to promote greater inclusion and consciousness of Ethnic Minority Students. Particularly, within lecturers and classes.

We believe that the curriculum for the courses across the School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures remains predominantly concentrated upon the works of straight White males. This needs to change. As such we are committed to the decolonization and diversification of curriculums within the SALC department.

We are a group formed by students for students, for support and guidance. We are in the fight against racism and discrimination together.


For support or more information take a look at our Instagram page @uom.edi.collective or email us, edicollective@gmail.com. 

Written by Sian Jones

Arctic weather conditions have been causing devastation in Texas over the past week, leaving 3.3 million residents without power, and 13 million with water service disruptions. Temperatures dropped as low as -18C last week, leading to an increased demand for heat that overwhelmed the state’s independent power grid. Texas – along with Alaska and Hawaii – is not a part of the national power grid that fuels the rest of the US. The state relies solely on itself for power, a decision made by state officials in order to retain maximum control over their own electricity, and keep power away from “federal regulators.” Consequently though, in times of crisis like this one, Texas is unable to rely on other states to provide power. Moreover, Texas energy companies have been criticised for favouring low prices “at the cost of delaying maintenance and improving power plants”. It is decisions like these that have led to Texans experiencing an unimaginable crisis.


Snow mounts as temperatures drop in Pflugerville (BBC News)

However, it is important to examine the ways in which the disaster is affecting particular communities within the state, and necessary to investigate why climate change hits some harder than others. Amidst the emergency, experts have deduced that “historically marginalized communities” were the first to lose power, and amongst some of the last to have it restored. These groups – the poor, Black, and Latino in this case – are hit much harder than their fellow white Texans. Robert Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University said of this disparity:

“Whether it’s flooding from severe weather events like hurricanes or it’s something like this severe cold, the history of our response to disasters is that these communities are hit first and have to suffer the longest”.


What is happening in Texas is a clear example of environmental racism, an occurrence whereby minority groups become burdened with disproportionate environmental hazards within their neighbourhoods.

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey Tweets about the situation in Texas

The US has a shameful history of allowing its non-white citizens to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change, and the situation in Texas – like that in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina – is no different. Climate change is a race issue, made evident by the susceptibility of Black and brown neighbourhoods to ecological disaster. As The New York Times reports, neighbourhoods that house communities of colour have generally poor infrastructure and insulation, meaning they are unequipped to deal with power outages and low temperatures. The link between minority communities and inadequate housing is an example of the government’s lack of care for people of colour. It is part of the larger issue of racism that is embedded into the American South, that which sees non-white individuals as less deserving of environmental protection.

In discussing the situation in Texas, it is also vital to mention the state’s history of voter suppression, another issue that hits communities of colour harder. Black and brown voters face multiple hurdles when trying to cast their votes in the state, and are often discouraged, intimidated, or even threatened with prosecution. This leads to an underrepresentation of minority voices in elections, and when it comes to Texas, the officials that are elected only reflect white voices. This can be seen with the elected officials that cut corners to save money on maintaining the power grids. Individuals who understand the impact of climate disaster would not vote for these politicians, yet these individuals – the ones that suffer ecologically – are the same individuals whose votes are suppressed. Consequently, Texan lawmakers do not reflect the wishes of the most vulnerable.

Adding insult to injury, as the death toll mounted as a result of the unbearable cold, Texas Senator Ted Cruz took a family vacation to the Mexican resort of Cancun. Cruz was photographed at the airport on Wednesday, illustrating a blinding disconnect with his constituents. Cruz’s ignorance is an example of the disparaging realities for white, powerful and rich individuals, compared to lower-class Texan’s of colour. Similarly, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has come under fire for failing to take any accountability for the power outages. Abbott’s failure of leadership further shows how the privileged are able to separate themselves from the reality of ecological injustice. In the light of climate crisis, the reaction of elected officials shows a clear environment of neglect for Texas’ most powerless.

Cruz lands in Cancun

The situation in Texas exposes harsh truths about the way the US treats minorities in the wake of disaster. The suffering experienced by these communities is part of a much larger system of oppression and racism that has long embedded itself within environmental discourses. The tendency for non-white Texans to live in cheap, old and poorly built homes makes them an easy target for extreme weather conditions. Having suffered disproportionally from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, ethnic minorities in Texas are now facing a future hindered by multiple, intensifying crises.


Written by Zoe Bracegirdle

Football is an area where general members of the public and footballers explicitly interact with the social and political issues that are interwoven throughout the 21st century footballing landscape. Clubs and players are entities fans form emotionally attachments to, yet modern football clubs are also global businesses whose purpose is to maintain profits and please board members. Players are business assets who’s on and off the pitch value is extremely important for themselves and football clubs, but they are also individual people with their own beliefs about the social and political ongoings of the world. As a global business, football clubs and players have had a variety of connections and attitudes towards different socio-political movements. Examining how these movements and activism have been treated within the topography of football can give us key insights into the relationship between international companies and socio-political movements within wider frames of globalisation and capitalism.

Ozil’s social media statement regarding the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China

On the 13th December 2019 Arsenal player Mesut Özil publicly declared his support for the Uighur Muslims detained in China via social media and called for more international action in response to this problem. Here a premier league footballer with a massive social media following has used their platform to bring light to a contemporary socio-political issue. Whilst some people would prefer that sportspeople and celebrities in general ‘stay in their lane’, the sensible and acute use of celebrities’ platforms have been an essential element in creating social change. For more information about the situation involving the Uighur Muslim’s in China seehttps://edicollectiveuom.com/blog-2/.

Özil’s public show of support for the situation of Uighur Muslims in China had serious repercussions for himself and his employer; multi-million pound international business Arsenal Football Club. Özil’s likeness was removed from the Chinese version of the PES football game and information about him in Chinese search engines was altered. China also responded by cancelling the scheduled broadcast of Arsenal’s following fixture against Manchester City in December 2019. This decision cost Arsenal money and threatened to cost Arsenal much more moneyin the futureas China is one of the most lucrative emerging markets for football clubs with sponsorship deals and TV rights. This is despite Arsenal’s attempts to detach themselves from Özil’s comments by claiming the club is apolitical and doesn’t involve itself in politics. Furthermore, Özil has been in and out of the Arsenal squad since these events including being completely excluded from the premier league squad this season. This appears to be an ongoing consequence of his political stance despite current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta claiming Özil’s non-involvement is for ‘footballing reasons’. In this situation Arsenal Football club, a massive multi-national business was confronted with a social-political issue and sought to emphasise their ‘apolitical’ stance as the situation jeopardised profit margins. The relationship between Arsenal and socio-political activism is put into further context by the clubs interactions with social and political movements and events.

Whether you believe anyone or anything being politically neutral is a realistically achievable or desirable status is irrelevant to the fact that in the time after claiming to be apolitical Arsenal Football Club have been far from apolitical. In the run up to the 2019 general election Hector Bellerin, another Arsenal player, tweeted calling for young people to vote accompanied by the #FuckBoris. However despite the politically charged nature of this Bellerin’s tweet Arsenal did not feel the need to distance themselves from it despite their previous reluctance to get involved in politics. Clearly the club was not that committed to their political neutrality.


Furthermore, upon the restart of the premier league following the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 premier league clubs, including Arsenal, all agreed to wear shirts with the phrase Black Lives Matter on the back following the events surrounding George Floyd’s death in America. Additionally players since the restart have started each game by taking the knee as a show of support against racism. These are both clearly gestures intentionally postulating for social and political change yet Arsenal Football Club actively participated and supported them despite claiming to not involve itself in politics. Arsenal’s response and support of the worldwide social movement in 2020 that focused on institutional racism against black people and Arsenal’s lack of response to Hector Bellerin’s tweet asks questions about why Arsenal’s political stance in these incidents was so different to their stance at the time of Mesut Özil’s public support for the Uighur people. As with everything in football and the world the answer seems to revolve around money and shareholder profits. The resumption of the premier league of which agreeing to support the black lives matter movement was a crucial part of was economically essential for football clubs like Arsenal and Bellerin’s tweet was of little relevance to Arsenal’s finances. Yet Özil’s comments threatened the financial future and profitability of Arsenal football club so in this instance Arsenal separated themselves from a political movement that threatened to cost the club money.

Ozil and Erdogan at Ozil’s wedding

The purpose of this blog is not to paint Arsenal, China or Özil as the heroes or villains of these events. The reasons behind Özil’s exclusion from Arsenals’ squad remain speculative and Özil himself is very closely connected to controversial authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who, as well as being the best man at Özil’s wedding, has also been recently embroiled in the 2020 conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Arsenal Football Club is just one example of a global business that involves itself in socio-political movementsincluding supporting many important causes and social movements such as the No Room For Racism initiative. Rather, the purpose is to point out the complex, or not so complex, relationship international businesses have with social movements and how economic factors influence these relationships. With the world in its current state where online data and preferences are monitored for big businesses financial exploitation it isimportant that we question and challenge why companies decide to support certain political movements, not just blindly support companies that get behind whatever social issues are trending. When these organisations’ moral compasses are directed by finances, it is important that social movements do not become objects manipulated by capitalism for monetary gain as allowing this to happen will inhibit the potential of these movements for sustainable successful and long-lasting social change.


Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48564192

https://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/ozil-disappointed-with-arsenals-reaction-to-criticism-over/161enn2o7cq191viazkrkn4ub8

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/mesut-ozil-arsenal-squad-mikel-arteta-latest-news-b1209220.html

thefocus.news/football/mesut-ozil-interview-blm/ 

https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20201210-one-nation-two-states-on-display-as-erdogan-visits-azerbaijan-for-karabakh-victory-parade

https://cn.reuters.com/article/instant-article/idUKKBN1YK26H


Written by Fred Clare

In Xinjiang, more than a million Uyghur Muslims are being detained in centres – the real figure is likely to be much more. These centres, the Chinese government has said, are merely schools. Yet, satellite images display these centres to be surrounded by tall fences with barbed wire, and watch towers that bear a closer resemblance to concentration camps than anything education-related. 

Former detainees report that in these centres, they are forced to sing the national anthem for China and other communist songs for hours on end, as well as study communist propaganda and chant praise to Xi Jinping. Failure to engage in these activities results in brutal punishments such as electrocution, waterboarding, being placed in handcuffs for hours, or being held in a ‘tiger chair’ – a metal contraption. Detainees are also forced to eat pork and drink alcohol – things that are forbidden in Islam. Former detainees have said that women are subject to sexual abuse, to forced abortions, forced contraceptive use and compulsory sterilisations. These are forces that prevent women having children, prevent the continuing expansion of a culture, a specific ethnic group: a textbook definition of an attempt at genocide. As well as the fact that Uyghurs are detained without being proven guilty of alleged charges, most are held without being informed the length of their sentences – they are detained and punished because, as one victim reported a guard said to them, the crime they have committed is being a Uyghur. 

Outside the camps, the majority Han Chinese are sent to live in the homes of detained and non-detained Uyghurs for surveillance purposes. The children of detainees are enrolled to ‘boarding schools’ where they are taught Mandarin Chinese and prevented from exercising and expressing their religion and banned from speaking their ethnic language. The Human Rights Watch have reported that these children have been sent to these mysterious schools without the consent of their parents. Uyghur Muslims are forced to download a specific software on their phones so their online activities can be tracked. The region itself is full of armed police where the Uyghurs are forced to undergo checks at several points. A BBC documentary, linked below, uses satellite evidence to show the gradual demolition and disappearance of mosques. Propaganda labels ordinary and peaceful religious prayers as extremist and terrorist. Any form of Islamic expression will likely result in being taken away and detained.



In this same documentary, when questioned, Chinese officials explained that the purpose of the camps, or ‘Vocational Education and Training Centres’, is to do with the apparent global rise in Islamic extremism. The camps and the ‘lessons’ and ‘teachers’ are there to eradicate any extremist thoughts before they can pose a threat. In other words, all Uyghur Muslims are considered to be future extremists, national threats, and the state is stepping in to prevent the issue before it arises. Or, as one government official put it to a crowd of Uyghurs, ‘You can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one by one. You need to spray chemicals to kill them all.’ This likens a culture and Islam to a contagion. According to Chinese officials, the Uyghurs have an ‘ideological disease’, as leaked documents reveal. Aidan Forth, a contributor to The Conversation, in his article called to attention the sinister history of governments and leaders who have used biological metaphors to describe groups of their citizens as viruses and diseases. For instance, he recalls Hitler proclaiming a ‘Jewish virus’ and that ‘we shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jew’. Forth concludes his article with: ‘The language of disease justified some of the 20th century’s worst crimes. If left unchecked by the international community, China is poised to continue that tradition in the 21st century.’ 

Once detainees have been released, the torture is far from over. Detainees that have managed to escape or have been granted asylum in other countries are threatened by the Chinese government – if they speak out about the reality of the camps, their families will be detained. Uyghurs that may be studying abroad are commonly detained upon their return to Xinjiang. As well as this, detainees that have served their sentences for alleged charges that they are not guilty of, when they are released, they are forced into labour in factories and, in some cases, sold for labour. The number of former detainees forced into labour under duress is so high that an Australian investigation reported that there can be no guarantee that the vast majority of clothing being produced for the fashion industry in China have not at some point been handled by a Uyghur who has been forced into labour. 

This is an attempt of a cultural genocide. And the vast majority of governments around the world have remained silent or impassive. There are now various alarming reports and figures released by investigative journalists and watchdogs. But reports and statistics do not stop a genocide. The Uyghurs have been deprived of their human rights that should be protected by international law. What is most haunting in all this is: what is the point of international law if when it is broken, in an attempt of ethnic cleansing much like some of the most brutal events in history, there is no serious attempt to protect the victims; what happens if others observe that a country can deprive its citizens of their rights in plain sight and not be reprimanded in any way, what can this lead to? 

Documentaries and Websites to find out more about the detainment of Uyghur Muslims:

Written by Saaleha Iqbal

Netflix’s new eight-part drama series, Bridgerton, is a sumptuous period drama set in Regency era London. The drama, based on Julia Quinn’s book series of the same name, centers around Daphne Bridgerton’s attempts to secure an advantageous match on the marriage market. Whilst we may have become accustomed to many saccharine period dramas in Britain, this series differs due to its use of contemporary pop music and modern fashion as well as for its unexpected casting choices.

The decision to cast black actor’s in formerly white roles has led to much debate online about the way in which history is presented in popular culture. Whilst the original text features only white characters, the writer, Julia Quinn, has since come out in support of the casting decision. Whilst many may see this as a modern phenomenon, the 18thCentury writer Jane Austen wrote about a black heiress, Georgiana Lambe, in her unfinished novel, Sanditon, which was turned into an ITV period drama in 2019. Similarly, to Sanditon, the decision to cast black actors in Bridgerton is not color-blind casting but, rather, a deliberate decision to draw attention to multicultural Georgian Britain. This not to say that the Georgian period was particularly progressive, but, rather, that the 15,000 black men and women living in Britain by the late eighteenth century should not be ignored in popular culture and academia. Whilst Twitter has been awash with outcries of historical inaccuracy the decision to cast the black actress, Golda Rosheuvel, as Queen Charlotte draws on a contemporary debate in academia as to whether the Queen had black ancestry. Whilst Queen Charlotte’s ancestry is still a  feature of contentious debate, there are many other forgotten figures in Georgian Britain who were black.

A recent exhibition held in 2016 at Brixton’s Black Culture Archives, ‘Black Georgian’s: The Shock of the Familiar’, has gone someway in revealing these previously hidden figures. You can see a guided tour of the exhibit led by the historian and curator S.I. Martin here: 


Some of the key figures featured in the exhibit were: 

1. Phyllis Wheatley [1753-1784]

Wheatley was the first black poet to be published in England. She was brought enslaved from Africa to Boston where she was educated (the exhibits curator is keen to stress that this was unlikely to be a benevolent act but rather an experiment). She was then brought to England where her poetry was later published. Phyllis was used as a political tool in debates by both abolitionists and the pro-slavery movement.

2. Ignatius Sancho [1729-1780]

Sancho was the first black man to vote in a British election, and the first to publish a critique of slavery. He was born on a slave ship and brought to England where he grew up in London. His education was sponsored by the Duke of Montagu whose house he worked in. He later became a freedman, owning his own property and opening up a shop, which made him eligible to vote in parliamentary elections.

3. Dido Elizabeth Belle  [1761-1804]

Belle was born into slavery but was raised as a member of the British aristocracy. She was the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Lindsay, a British naval officer, and Maria Belle, an African slave. Despite her illegitimacy she was raised by the Earl and Countess of Mansfield with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray. The famous portrait of Dido and her cousin was ‘highly unusual’ in 18th-century British art for showing a black woman as the equal of her white companion, rather than as a servant or slave. The 2013 film, Belle, was ‘inspired’ by this painting.


Britain’s Black History was not confined to the Georgian Period but, rather, spans from the Roman Period to the modern day. It is important that we educate ourselves about Britain’s Black Tudors, Victorians and Edwardians in order to provide a more balanced view of history. In the words of the historian David Olusoga, ‘The refusal to accept that the black presence in Britain has a long and deep history is not just a symptom of racism, it is a form of racism. It is a part of a rearguard and increasingly unsustainable defence of a fantasy monochrome version of British history.’

Resources for Discovering Black Britons:

  • Read David Olusoga’s book Black and Britishor watch his documentary series: Black and British, A Forgotten History on IPlayer. 
  • Read, The Oxford Companion to Black British History, Edited by David Dabydeen, John Gilmore, and Cecily Jones.
  • Read, 100 Great Black Britons, written by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne 
  • Read, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain,by Peter Fryer. 
  • View the National Portrait Gallery’s Black History Month Page
  • Visit the Black Cultural Archive in London, or view their online exhibits

Written by Isabella Wood

The University of Warwick found itself making headline news this week. The news concerned a student-led protest and open letter directed at the University, criticising its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct taking place on its campus. The University has been accused of facilitating a toxic environment and rape culture. Anger at the institution can be traced back to two years ago when messages from a private Facebook chat were posted online. The messages were part of a Warwick University group chat in which male students posted sexually violent threats about their fellow course mates. In response to the scandal, the perpetrators received “minor disciplinary charges” (iNews). Warwick expelled one, who was also given a life-time campus ban, banned two for ten years, and banned two others for twelve months. However, those banned for ten years soon had their bans reduced to twelve months. 

Now, two years on, “five women, including one who said she had been raped on campus, told the Guardian the university had not addressed the toxic culture exposed” those years ago. (The Guardian). As for the letter – written by an anonymous student and addressed to Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft – it exposes some harsh realities regarding the University. The student eloquently writes to Croft: 


“These are your students impacted here, the same students that you vowed to protect, and whom you have a duty of care towards. The University of Warwick is one of the top institutions in the UK, yet its students, the leaders of tomorrow, are suffering.” 

(The Boar)

Warwick attests that they care for the survivors of sexual violence, claiming that they are “committed to providing a campus environment in which all members of our community feel safe and are respected” (The Boar). From many students’ perspectives though, they simply do not care enough. 

Now, students are taking matters into their own hands. A recent petition, created by student Laila Ahmed, demands Warwick to take serious action against sexual assaults on campus. According to Laila: “Higher sanctions need to be in place for perpetrators who are found guilty of any sexual misconduct and the law around this needs to be amplified to students” (Change). Students are angry that “Warwick is not doing enough for its students wellbeing”, with many feeling “lost and isolated with no information on how to get support” (Change).

Warwick University, and universities in general, do not handle sexual assault cases with due care, nor do they create a safe environment for victims of assault. Too often students’ experiences are downplayed, rape culture is explained away as harmless banter, and victims are subject to lengthy, over-complicated reporting processes that makes reporting a sexually violent crime incredibly taxing, hence deterring students from reporting an incident. It is issues like these that institutions need to resolve to ensure their students feel safe on and off campus.


The news from Warwick is a sign of a much bigger problem, a single case amongst the masses of overlooked and underreported cases of sexual violence at Universities. Of course, Warwick is not alone. Higher Education institutions generally respond poorly to reports of sexual assault. In fact, data obtained this year showed that forty-five UK Universities used bribes to silence sexual assault accusers (Insider). More specifically, take The University of St. Andrews, Bolton, Oxford, Birmingham, Sheffield, as examples of the pervasiveness of rape culture in academic institutions. Astoundingly, “more than half of UK students say they have faced unwanted sexual behaviour” (The Guardian). These cases are not isolated incidents, but rather symptoms of a deadly rape culture that university institutions and our society in general persistently fail to address.


Written by Zoe Bracegirdle

Murders that are committed in the so-called name of ‘honour’ are murders in which victims, predominantly women, are killed for behaviour that is deemed to have brought some shame upon the family. Within the UK honour-based murders have taken place for minor reasons like; dressing in an overtly ‘westernised’ way, falling in love with somebody not chosen by family, rejecting forced marriage and being LGBT.

One such case is that of Banaz Mahmod, whose murder in 2006 has recently gained attention in ITV’s drama, Honour. This two- part drama focuses on the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Banaz in South London.

The drama begins with Rahmat, Banaz’s boyfriend, reporting her disappearance to the police. The investigation begins under the lead of DCI Caroline Goode, who, becoming increasingly concerned for 20-year-old Banaz, searches police records. Five separate recordings are found in which Banaz, visiting the police on all five occasions, pleaded for protection from her abusive family. These were five occasions in which the police had failed to take Banaz’s pleas seriously, even deeming her to be manipulative and melodramatic on one occasion. 

When the police finally began to take Banaz’s pleas seriously, questioning her family and family friends, it was simply too late; on the 28th April 2006 Banaz’s body was discovered in Handsworth, a West Midland suburb. 

An inquest into her death revealed she had been brutally raped and murdered by ligature strangulation three months earlier in the January of 2006. Her body had been disposed of in a suitcase and buried in the garden of a derelict house. 

After three successive trails, Banaz’s father, uncle and three cousins were convicted of her murder. However, Payzee, Banaz’s older sister, believes that the police failed to protect her sister and that little has changed in the 14 years since her death. She believes that not enough is being done to protect women, especially in this current rise of domestic violence with the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. 

As such we need to be familiar with the red flags of honour-based abuse to prevent and help those who could be vulnerable. If you feel threatened or abused when you try to:

  • Separate yourself from a relationship 
  • Start a new relationship 
  • Talk or interact freely with men 
  • Become pregnant or give birth outside of marriage 
  • Have interfaith relationships or marry outside a specified religion 
  • Engage in sexual activity outside of marriage 
  • Marry a person of your own choice 
  • Access higher education without the approval of your family

You can seek help and there are a number of charities who can provide support and guidance:

  • Halo Project Charity – visit their website at www.haloproject.org.ukor call on 01642683045. This charity aims to break the silence surrounding honour based violence and if you are worried about your own situation or that of a friend you can contact them for help or advice.
  • Refuge – ‘For women and children. Against domestic violence’. This charity provides a freephone 24- hour national domestic abuse helpline at 08082000247 and provides crucial advice on the red flags of honour-based violence. 

Banaz was one of 12 to 15 women killed every year in Britain in the name of honour and this needs to change. Here at the EDI Collective we believe that more needs to be done to protect and support the victims of honour-based violence. 

If you know someone, maybe a friend or if you yourself identify with some of the red flags raised in this post, please contact the charities listed above. 


Written by Sian Jones

See bottom of page for help on how to report an incident where you have been discriminated due to your race

Racism doesn’t always come in the form of a physical attack, or a direct reference to the colour of your skin and your racial identity. A person who has made a racially aggravated degrading remark may not necessarily outwardly say, I’m saying this because of your race. As a result, this can lead to a student left feeling confused. This works to simply alienate students of colour even more. What makes a situation like this more troubling for the person affected, is the feeling that this more indirect and implicit form of racism is something that may not be understood by the services that offer support and respond to incidents of such discrimination. Unfortunately, students of colour have become quite accustomed to ignoring and shrugging off such comments and remarks. In some cases, and speaking from my own experiences and those of other people of colour I have spoken to, sometimes we pretend we don’t hear comments, remarks and slurs muttered quietly, as a coping mechanism.


The fact is, people of colour are able to sense when someone is being racist without explicitly being racist – it is like a sixth sense you learn quickly, that you have grown to detect. Racism can be receiving cold treatment from someone who has been quite friendly with others but when they come to you, their demeanour suddenly changes – they perhaps are not as welcoming, or friendly. A common example of this happens in supermarkets: when you go to the checkout to pay, there is a customer in front of you and the cashier is making friendly conversation with them, being quite warm, asking questions, engaging, and then suddenly, when it’s your turn, the cashier doesn’t even look to you, say hello – the only time they speak is when telling you how much your shopping has cost. Also, a personal experience, is when I went to the dentist, years ago now, and the receptionist had made a judgement, likely based on the cultural clothing my mum was wearing, that my mum is illiterate, unable to speak proper English and proceeds to speak to her like she is a nursery-child, in a very hostile manner – without outrightly saying, the reason why I am speaking to you like this is because I have made a prejudicial judgement that you would be unable to speak English

These are very indirect forms of racism. And because of the indirect nature of these forms of racism and prejudice, it means that the person affected is doubtful of whether it will even be taken seriously as racism. Whether they are being too dramatic and overreacting, whether there is a point in reporting it, making a big deal of something that occurred within the span of a few seconds. Such thoughts have frequently crossed my own mind. 

But there comes a point, when it becomes exhausting to put up with and shrug off racial remarks – where it is no longer enough to just ignore it, to pretend it isn’t happening, and where your mental health, self-esteem and confidence are deeply affected by such experiences. And particularly when you are student within a department, a course that is predominantly white, where you are one of a handful, it leads to feelings of exclusion and alienation. Of course, it is not every member of staff and every student that has discriminatory attitudes. But, being in a place where you don’t see much of yourself reflected around you, not being able to relate – especially to the staff members and course content – it all contributes to the sense of exclusion. 


What I have found though is that, even though you tell yourself it’s nothing at the time, you catch yourself remembering the incident a few days later, a few weeks – a few years later, too. So, clearly, this is having a mental impact. And, what I have also become more aware of is the danger of normalising racism and discrimination. Yes, you might tell yourself, the system has failed us, there’s nothing we can do so we might as well just settle for it. You might tell yourself, there are people who have it worse. But that is no justification. Just because you may consider yourself to be in a better position, it doesn’t mean you don’t call out injustice. It is not a privilege to be treated fairly; it is your right. It is not called being angry, being defensive, being outspoken, being confrontational to demand fairness. 


The Equality Act (2010) bluntly states you cannotbe discriminated because of your race. It isn’t your job to settle for it. [Race can mean your colour, your nationality, your ethnic and national origins – which may not be the same as your nationality. For example, you may have Chinese national origins and be living in Britain with a British passport. Race also covers your ethnic and racial groups. And racial harassment – which the Act defines as ‘when someone makes you feel humiliated, offended or degraded… can never be justified.’]


So, it is your right to expect to be treated fairly, to not be discriminated or silenced or undermined for the colour of your skin. And this is something that is of paramount importance to tell yourself when you have been subject to racism – when you feel yourself shrink inside, become small, feeling like you are abnormal, that you don’t belong. And for the universities, for the justice systems and for the government, tackling racism is not something that should be done as a political move, or superficially, to be politically correct – it is their duty. And as students and citizens, we have the right to demand that of our government and university, and to take action to create a society and an institution that is inclusive. 


If you catch yourself thinking, ‘is it worth reporting’, ‘it’s not a big deal’, please do not let it sit inside of you and let that incident be quietly swept under the carpet. Even if you don’t know the name of the perpetrator, you can still report it – there may be witnesses, CCTV footage, staff can be employed in a place where racial incidents appear to be quite frequent. If the reason why you hesitate is because you don’t want to become involved in a lengthy process of reporting and resolving the incident – that is fine, you can choose to not be involved. If you are worried that it may affect a relationship with your classmates or your tutors, or your grades, you can choose to remain anonymous. Even if you do not want to go through with reporting the incident, that is fine – you can reach out to us and let us know that this has happened, and just get some support – have someone to talk to. 


What to do when you have been subject to discrimination and/or harassment due to your race:

  • If you know the name of the person/people involved, note it down. You can still report something even if you do not know the name of the person/people involved. Also, note down what it is they have said, or how it is they have behaved to you in a way that you have found discriminatory. 
  • Contact the EDI Collective over email and ask if it is possible for you to arrange to speak to someone over a video call or preferred method of communication. 

[University emails are monitored, so we recommend that if you would like to limit the number of people being aware the incident, to organise a video/audio call with someone at the Collective.]

  • We will then get back to you as soon as possible to organise a time where a member of the Collective can meet with you (virtually), and you can tell us what has happened. 
  • Following this, we will begin the process of seeking action for the perpetrator(s) involved and provide you with any support you need. 
  • You can also report any discrimination and harassment you have received due to your gender, religion, disability and sexual orientation. 
  • If you would like to know more about how we work to respond to an incident, and what process we take following a report, get in touch with us. 

Written by Saaleha Iqbal

The human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and other countries are well documented, but rarely well presented. Rather than another sanctimonious journalist abstractly mentioning human rights issues in other countries, sometimes it is better to hear tangible accounts of events which can often seem distant. Nobody could portray Lina al-Hathloul’s perspective on human rights in Saudi Arabia better than herself which is why reading or listening to her interviews yourselfwill be much more beneficial than the brief summary that follows. 


“I’ve never seen her, but as my parents explain it they have seen her shaking and having red marks on her skin she’s been electrocuted, flogged and waterboarded.” “Toujan has not called for over two months and we have no idea where she is now.”


Lina describes the imprisonment and alleged tortureof her sister, Toujan al-Hathloul, who is imprisoned for her public support of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia – specifically for advocating the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. Despite it being over two years since legislation legalising women being able to drive in Saudi Arabia, Toujan has been imprisoned for campaigning for the passing of this law and her support of other women’s rights movements within the kingdom.

From Lina’s perspective it appears that Saudi Arabia’s attempted takeover of Newcastle United was an opportunity to raise the profile of human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and more personally, to highlight her sister’s imprisonment and mistreatment. Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal from Newcastle United appears to be a small victory in the fight for women’s rights and equality in Saudi Arabia as it is denying the state that has imprisoned her sister and many other activists the ability to sports wash these atrocities. 

From the perspective of some Newcastle fans, Saudi Arabia not only offered a reprieve from the toxic ownership of much maligned Mike Ashley. It also offered a way out of the economic doom and gloom which many feel has consumed the region, a region which has been ritually ignored by various British governments. With investment coming from Saudi Arabia who pledged that upwards of 250 million pounds would be invested in the north-east if their takeover was successful. This makes the ethics of the takeover potentially a little less black and white– particularly to Newcastle fans who live in the area. 

It also raises some interesting questions about the ethical role fans play in the running of their club. And by extension, how responsible players and managers are for the teams they play and how responsible they are for the teams they choose to play for.

It is also important to remember that many Newcastle fans have directed their frustration with the Newcastle takeover situation at the Premier League. Specifically, at the time it has taken for the Premier League to come to the non-decision that led to Saudi Arabia withdrawing from the deal. This criticism of the Premier League appears to be justified since the time taken to not come to a decision regarding a potential owner has been against their own policy and unfair on Newcastle fans and on Newcastle United on a sporting level. However, whether this volume of criticism from many Newcastle fans regarding the delay would have been levelled at the Premier League if they had approved the sale to Saudi Arabia and their human rights record remains highly debatable.

Given the potential benefits to the north-east that would have accompanied a Saudi Arabian owned Newcastle United, it can be understood why some Newcastle fans wouldn’t be totally against the takeover. Especially considering how, Newcastle, like many non-London cities, has been left to stagnate by the government. Many may feel that foreign investment is the only viable option. However, perhaps the solution is not looking for handouts from a regime looking to conceal their shocking human rights recordand further their own political aims through these handouts. Maybe in search of a more inclusive economy we should start voting for politicians who promise to invest in these areas and hold them accountable if they don’t keep these promises. Maybe we should start voting for politicians who display a long-term commitment to the needs of historically working-class areas, not just superficially in the months leading up to an election

The events surrounding the failed takeover of Newcastle United have been as frustrating for Newcastle fans as they have been problematic for the Premier League as an organisation. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that the Premier League’s problem has very little to do with human rights abuses and a lot do to with piracy and copyright. Taking a step back, it becomes clear that the Premier League has historically shown no hesitation in approving the sale of Premier League clubs to owners with questionable human rights records. Most notably Roman Abramovich who became Chelsea owner in 2003 and the UAE’s acquisition of Manchester City in 2008.

More specifically to the Newcastle takeover, the Premier League has shown that the principle reason for not allowing the takeover is not based on taking a stand against human rights issues. But instead, based on the piracy claims surrounding the Saudi Arabian government and the Qatari based organisation beIn Sports. Otherwise the Premier League wouldn’t have taken months to come to a non-decision. Furthermore, the investment fund attempting to purchase Newcastle United pulled out of a potential deal after Saudi Arabia banned beIN Sports across the kingdom. Saudi Arabia denies backing the massive piracy operation that is beoutQ, which offers illegal streams showing Premier League games across Saudi Arabia and the rest of the gulf. This is despite beIN Sports owning the license to show Premier League games in the region. beoutQ is widely regarded as funded and organised by the Saudi Arabian state, a notion the vast scale of the operation would support. At a generous minimum Saudi Arabia has taken very few meaningful steps to combat beoutQ’s and its illegal practices.



These events surrounding the takeover Saudi Arabia’s attempted takeover have been a problem for the Premier League as an organisation as it has exposed the incompetence and lack of ethics within the organisation. 

Saudi Arabia sees Newcastle as an opportunity to push their own economic, political or religious agendas – as they have done in other countries. The Saudi having backed war in Yemen and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi (who had openly criticised the Saudi regime) in Turkey being prime examples of this. However, the exact nature of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy remains up for debate and there are many different ways it can be interpreted.

For example, Newcastle United represent an opportunity to politically manoeuvreagainst some of their geographical neighbours like Qatar and the UAE. Neighbours who have already inserted themselves into football in the pursuit of accomplishing their own individual economic and political aims.  One of these neighbours, the UAE (which effectively owns Manchester City Football Club), have already used football to broker increased diplomatic relations with the UK as Manchester City’s Emirati owners presence at football matches in the UK frequently coincides with meetings involving members of the UK government. Perhaps Saudi Arabia sees acquiring Newcastle United as a way to facilitate a beneficial political relationship with the UK as it appears their Gulf rivals have. Maybe Saudi Arabia views the cultural bastion that is football as a way to assimilate itself with ‘European’ cultural ideas. This has often been touted as a key argument for supporting gulf states like Saudi Arabia in football. This raises some interesting questions like is there a correct way for countries to attempt to diversify themselves?

If there is a correct way, many individuals and organisations would argue that it is not the way petrostates like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have taken to assimilate themselves to European culture, maintaining that the steps these countries have taken are a facade. Lina al-Hathloul interprets the actions the Saudi government has taken regarding the legalisation of women driving in the kingdom as superficial attempts at appeasing foreign countries. The imprisonment and alleged torture of Lina’s sister for campaigning for the passing of legislation to legalising women being able to drive supports her claim. In addition, the idea of ‘sports-washing’supports such criticism of these regimes. A term specifically coined to describe how countries can use spectacular sporting events to conceal human rights atrocities

Saudi Arabia could see Newcastle United as an opportunity to create internal division and unrest within the UK by garnering the support of disenfranchised populations residing in areas of the UK, like the north-east, which have been ritually ignored and deprived of much needed investment for decades. This may seem a far-fetched idea at first, but it wouldn’t be the first time a foreign power has been accused of meddling in UK politics in recent times.


Overall, it seems the takeover of a football club the size of Newcastle United provides a state like Saudi Arabia many opportunities to implement their foreign policy, but any attempt at deciphering the nature of this policy requires varying degrees of speculation

Drawing on the perspectives discussed here, it becomes clear that ‘football’ is not just about football. Attempts to reduce or limit the discourse surrounding football to just what is played on the pitch are unhelpful, dangerous and largely ignorant. As with many things, football and its practices are a reflection of society and often a reflection of the grimmest parts of societies with its corruption, abhorrent transfer fees and frequent disregard for human rights. Saudi Arabia’s attempted takeover of Newcastle United shows how politically close to home many of these things are. Yet these events within football are also an opportunity for fans, players, owner, politicians and other parties to try and change football and wider society. Saudi Arabia’s attempted takeover of Newcastle United has highlighted where these opportunities are in football and will hopefully lead to fans, players and managers taking these opportunities in the future.

Useful Links/Sources

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/saudi-arabia-lina-al-hathloul-calls-uk-government-help-jailed-sister-loujain

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-26/saudi-arabia-s-most-famous-prisoners-go-silent-during-pandemic

https://www.themeteor.org/2018/12/14/council-in-partnership-with-most-brutal-police-state-in-the-middle-east-says-amnesty-international/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45812399

Written by Fred Clare


Let me do it. You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backwards and tell you when to take off.

Katherine Johnson
The 2017 film Hidden Figures told the forgotten story of Katherine Johnson – an African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and other US crewed space flights. 

Katherine’s achievements began in 1939 when she was chosen to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools. After a successful career in education, Katherine moved to the ‘all-black west’ area computer section at NASA in 1952. 

Her remarkable achievements would continue throughout her time at NASA. After the launch of the Soviet Satellite Sputnik in 1957, Katherine completed the Math for the notes on space tech. Forming the core of the space task group, which launched the first human spaceflight in 1961.

Alan Shepard’s first human space flight in the May of 1961 was critical in the USA/USSR’s space race. Shepard himself asked Johnson to calculate the trajectory analysis for his mission. This cemented Katherine’s place as the first African- American woman to gain credit for her research projects. 

However, Katherine’s pivotal moment was in 1962 when she calculated the Math for the Orbit of John Glenn. This was the first American orbital flight in space and was a success in showing US capacity at a time of severe cold war rivalries. 

Only in 2015, at the age of 97, was Katherine awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the then-President, Barack Obama. 

It took 52 years for Katherine’s achievements to be recognised by her country. Our SALC curriculum should ensure it does not play a similar role in ignoring, disregarding or failing to acknowledge pivotal figures in history due to race – it should include the monumental achievements made by women of colour like that of Katherine Johnson. It must be revisited and updated to go beyond teaching historical records through a narrow Euro-centric lens and broaden the perspectives through which it explores historical experiences and events into one that is more holistic and comprehensive.

multi-ethnic SALC curriculum is the way forward and is something we should work together to achieve. 

Written by Sian Jones

What is taught cannot truly be diversified or decolonised if those teaching are not diversified

To begin, I must emphasise the difference between diversity and decolonisation. That diversity without decolonisation cannot bring about real equality and inclusion in a university. 

Diversifying the English Literature course would mean having a range of texts on reading lists, from writers of various cultures, religions, genders, sexualities, socio-economic backgrounds and having a range of academic teaching staff. 

The decolonisation of English Literature has many meanings: 

  • Firstly, it means to understand, as Edward Said highlights, that literature is intertwined with politics and culture, even actively pursuing inherent political ideologies and policies within its works. 
  • It means to interrogate the relationship between the location and identity of the writer, what they write and how they write about it. 
  • It means to unmask the colonial context and influence of many canonical works and literary theories. 
  • Once acknowledging this relationship between the identity and location of a writer and their work, it means then to engage with more perspectives of that work, not just taking sources from the West and establishing a Eurocentric view of that work but diversifying the sources we engage with in our scholarship i.e. listening to marginalised voices. 
  • It also demands that texts written by and about minorities should not be treated as peripheral, as an aside. 


As is demonstrated in the definition of decolonising, diversity is essential to decolonise the curriculum in English Literature. However, the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (SALC) in the University of Manchester holds a dominantly white body of academic staff. As a student of English Literature with Creative Writing, I am yet to be taught by someone of colour. Many students go through the total three years of their degree in SALC without encountering an academic staff of colour. What this means is that, when Course Directors are putting courses together, comprising modules and reading lists, they are doing so without the voices of Black and Minority Ethnic scholars. 

A common defence against decolonising and diversifying English Literature is that it is supposed to be “English” Literature i.e. it is supposedto be the works of white and English writers and theorists. However, as Priyamvada Gopal, a Professor in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, points out, ‘Black and Asian people have a history in Britain that stretches back nearly 500 years, and these communities contributed significantly to its wealth and heritage.’ She goes on to say, ‘the very idea of what it meant to be “white” or “English” relied on the presence of those… who could be marked as neither.’ So, by not decolonising the curriculum, and by not heeding Black and Asian voices, students do not receive a holistic understanding of English Literature and how it came to be; decolonising the curriculum is simply ‘to expand the imagination of students of literature’ as Arundhati Roy writes. 

But what exactly is “English” Literature? As the British Empire expanded and its syllabus was implemented in countries across the world, many formally colonised countries became dominantly English-speaking. Toni Morrison writes that in the literature produced in the colonising country, ‘one could write about them [minority, African, ‘Other’ cultures] but there was never any danger of their “writing back”. Just as one could speak to them without fear of their “talking back”. One could even observe them, hold them in prolonged gaze, without encountering the risk of being observed, viewed or judged in return.’ However, the Empire started writing back. The colonised and enslaved wrote back, revealing truths of Empire and imperialism that cannot be accessed in European works. And so, to not listen to these voices is to ‘lobotomise’ literature, to ‘put it under house arrest’ as Morrison argues. 

If English as a subject has any value, it is because it puts into question the very notion of “English” itself. Is it really possible, in this post-colonial era to say who and what is or is not English? There is no one, clear standard definition of what English Literature is.

If it is too difficult, too broad to capture what English Literature is in a single definition, because its value transcends the borders of a single country and a single people, how is it then that in universities and institutions it is boxed up, its wealth and richness tightly sealed and limited to the works of a few?  

How is it that defenders of this Euro-centric boxed-up version of English Literature are given the weapons they need to subdue its true richness, mask its shortcomings?

Everything comes back to the people at heart of it, to the fact that a dominantly white body of academic staff co-ordinate the English Literature course without the voices of black and brown scholars. The fundamental action that must take place to both decolonise and diversify English Literature is to eradicate the unjustified and baseless resistance towards allowing black and brown scholars to participate in the decisions of delivering an English Literature course and to teach it. 

The only way to move forward, to diversify and decolonise the curriculum, is to open the door for black and brown writers and scholars to sit in the judging panels, in the meetings where the canon is quickly defended, in the meetings where reading lists and English Literature courses are construed, in positions and posts where black and brown scholars are able to pursue research.

And this is not to be done out of pity, or to be politically correct, but to acknowledge that it is necessary to do so to gain a greater, fuller and broader understanding of English Literature.  To accept that the voices and works of formally colonised cultures are necessary to understand how English Literature has developed and evolved. To understand that ‘assumptions regarding racial and civilizational hierarchy informed a lot of thinking of how the world worked, what was worth studying and how it should be studied’ – that these same assumptions informed and justified the expansion of colonial rule in Asia, Africa and the Middle East were also advocated quietly over hundreds of years of literature, were responded to by the colonised through literature.

By not decolonising the curriculum, the university is perpetuating a culture of ignorance and ensuring the next academics inherit this ignorance. 

Only recently have black and brown and minority ethnic writers begun to receive prestigious writing awards and this is because judging panels are largely white; the canon is comprised of the works of white men; notions of quality by which a written piece of work is criticised are the Euro-centric notions of quality of critics who crown these canonical white works; this notion of quality seeps into universities, into lectures and seminars, maintaining the high pedestal upon which this canon is revered.

How then, can we expect such literary scholars who hold the works of minority cultures and marginalised voices with such little regard to diversify and decolonise literature, to strip down the reverence of “traditional” texts? 


Actions for SALC

  • End the ethnicity pay gap. 
  • Create and establish programmes and initiatives to encourage and employ more academic staff that are Black, Asian, from ethnic minorities. 
  • Diversify reading lists – diversify the texts that are studied on a module and diversify the secondary critical material that is used in teaching to ensure a complete perspective on a course – not just a Euro-centric perspective.
  • In lectures, seminars and tutorials, academic staff must unmask any colonial context and influence on what is being studied. 
  • Establish training programmes to train academic staff on how to approach and teach colonial contexts in a way that does not lead to further exclusion or alienation of black and brown students and students from minority ethnic backgrounds.   

Written by Saaleha Iqbal