University of Reading at Reading Pride Love Unites Festival 2021

Saturday 4th September 2021, King’s Meadow, Reading 

 

An article written with collaborative input from, and with special thanks to: 

Abi Flach, Al Laville, Aleiah Potter, Alice Mpofu Coles, Amrit Saggu, Amy Sheffield, Becky Kite, Carol Fuller, Clare Hallcup, Eva van Herel, Florian Roithmayr, Gordon Short, Hatty Taylor, Javier Amezcua, Jessica Tyers, Jude Brindley, Kat Bicknell, Lucy Guest, Mark McClemont, Martina Mabale De Burgos, Mathew Haine, Susan Thornton, Nozomi Tolworthy, Parveen Yaqoob, Peter Scarfe, Rachel Helsby, Ruvi Ziegler, Sadie Bartholomew, Saif Maher, Sinead O Flynn and Sheldon Allen. 

 

Love Unites!

We were so excited to hear that Reading Pride – Love Unites Festival was back on in person this year and it did not disappoint! We had our usual stand in the festival’s marketplace where we could engage with the community.  

We talked about life on campus, working at the University, the student experience at the University. We also talked about inclusive recruitment, and ways one could join the University, as staff or prospective students. We celebrated the current and ever-expanding support for LGBT+ students and staff at the University, including RUSU’s LGBT+ student society, the LGBT+ Staff Network and much more!  

The University's Stand at the Love Unites festival set up, waiting for guests to arrive; A 6 metre by 3 metre Gazebo with a hot pink covering. Two large tables are under the gazebo, covered by the University of Reading tablecloths, in our signature red colour. A large rainbow flag hangs from the back of the Gazebo Three large signs are standing on easels in front of the stand, showing the Lord Wolfenden and the cover of his report. There is text explaining the Wolfenden legacy, and another image in modern day, showing University of Reading. The text describes the modern-day impact of the Wolfenden report on staff, students, and the wider community.

 Professor Kat Bicknell, Head of the Department of Pharmacy, Nozomi Tolworthy, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and Professor Carol Fuller stand under the gazebo at the University of Reading stall. They are standing in front of a table which has a red University of Reading table cloth and is covered with rainbow lanyards, postcards and pronoun badges.

 

Free Handouts for All!

We engaged the crowds with our handouts; rainbow lanyards, progress flag/UoR stickers. A particular favourite was the pronoun badges we were giving out. In 2019 we launched four styles of pronoun badges: He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, and a badge with a blank box for custom pronouns. These were a huge, and unique hit at the festival and were very welcome amongst the attendees.  

We initially wrote about the importance of pronouns in our blog piece back in February 2019 – Pronoun Badges at the University of Reading. We want our trans and non-binary colleagues, students and members of the wider community to know, as well as our cisgender colleagues, students, and members of the wider community that we not only support but encourage their expression of their gender identity. We want to recognise and respect the entire spectrum of gender and do all that we can to represent and celebrate the diverse community of identities that we have at Reading. You can read more about the importance of pronouns here 

 

Digital Takeover

Martina Mabale De Burgos, Student Outcomes Coordinator and University of Reading Community Champion and Sheldon Allen, Law Student and UoR Community Champion, did an awesome job of taking over the University of Reading’s social media channelsStarting at the parade, they made their way through the town with the hundreds of others in the Parade. They made sure everyone who couldn’t be there felt included in the day by sharing photographs and posts throughout the day. We used the University’s iconic social media frame, which is being modelled in the image above by Parveen Yaqoob, who is the LGBT+ champion on the University’s Executive Board, and Sheldon.   

 

Celebrating the Wolfenden Legacy

We had placards printed which told the story of Lord Wolfenden. In 1957, John Wolfenden released a report which proposed that ‘homosexual intercourse between consenting adults should be decriminalized’. The uproar it produced in politics, the press and public discourse eventually helped pave the way for LGBT+ rights in the UK.  

Lord Wolfenden was Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading between 1950–1964 and future Director of the British Museum, was chosen to head the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution in 1954.

We mark this important moment in history annually with the Wolfenden Lecture.  

This year the Wolfenden Lecture was presented by special guest, Hafsa Qureshi, Stonewall Bi Role Model of the Year 2019. 

The event this year was named ‘Why We Are Not All Equal’; 

As a modern society, we treat the problem of inequality as a thing of the past. This lecture aimed to dispel the notion that equality has been achieved. We looked at the ways society has adapted the way we discriminate against one another, and what we can do to oppose this. 

 

 

Pride as a Protest

We were very happy this year to see the traditional roots of LGBT+ Pride were given consideration, with a ‘grassroots protest’ art instillation at the Main entrance to the festival. LGBT+ Pride is well known as a celebration of the diverse identities and people within the LGBT+ community, but it is also a protest.

The Pride celebrations that we know and love all over the world today were born in New York City. Following the Stonewall riots, (also known as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) which were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT+ community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn.  

The first Pride March, on 28th June 1970 was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March (which is the name of the road the Stonewall Inn is on) and the event had both an element of celebration and protest. 

 

We had a truly brilliant time at the Love Unites festival. We are also aware we can always improve. Some of the ideas we have had for next year already include things such as: 

  • A UoR flag flying high from the stall, so people can find us easily from a distance,  
  • Changing or adapting our hand-outs so that they are environmentally friendly,  
  • A ‘photo booth’ with our amazing frame (as modelled by Ruvi in the image above) including the famous disco ball from the Art Department.  

 

 

If you have any comments, feedback or any exciting ideas for next year, we would love to hear from you. Please send us an email at diversity@reading.ac.uk with your comments.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Women of Colour…

Dear Women of Colour…

a poem by Apatsa Rose, Contracts Associate, Research and Enterprise Services

 

Dear Colour,

It took a while for me to notice you
Though I would stand in a room with a sea of individuals with faces that looked nothing like mine
They were always kind
Hence I was always blind to you
Until year two.
When I came in with a little fro and lo and behold I was…
different.
My nose was
wider, My lips
were larger, My hair was
coarser
And I never knew until she pointed it out at school.
Running to the bathroom with
tears streaming down my face, then all I
wanted was my mother.
Looking in the mirror
I contemplated her abrasive statements
Was she right?

Did I look just
like
poo?
Was I ugly for being different?
Was I still that sweet, precious girl that my family said I was or was I now
Disposable?
Being the only non-white child in school had never been so apparent until this pivotal moment
Suddenly,
I saw you.
You brought with you a divide,
A fight with self to discover the wealth that my colour brought
To find the light we hold inside
To manipulate perceptions, yet stay true to who I am
I can’t say much good has come from knowing you
But I’m aware
And though I’m not sure how to deal with you yet
I still walk on. I still stand strong.
To Colour, I say Hello…

 

 

Dear Woman,

Did God curse just you
Or he cursed man too?
Though sometimes you are seen as less than
You’ve been shown that you still can
Be the queen of the home
Of the road
Of the show
Though we speak of girl power
Is it a myth that really exists
Or do we aim to empower one another?
Woman, he says to you
Mother, Sister, Girlfriend, Wife
At times these terms connote strife
From the time the period arrives
Expectation is created,
Though you knew not
Because you were silently elated.
Long nails
Tight curls

Rouged lips
Thick hips
Shaved legs
Full edges
Are supposedly what make you, you.
Yet to you there is no structure
Too varied, intricate and positively complex to categorise
Men are mesmerised by your diversity.
Dear woman, to you I say
When in doubt
Question a world without your touch.

 

 

Dear Women of Colour,

We salute you
We salute that you tore your enemies in two
Because some of us in your shoes
Wouldn’t be able to do the things you do
Downtrodden by society
Their men, our men

The beauty of your boldness always stand strong
In a world where sometimes it’s hard to belong
Dear woman of colour
This appears to be wrong
Oprah, Archie,
Michelle, Mum
When you stop to think of what you’ve become
An inspiration, a ray of sun
Though you are of colour
Though you are a woman
Though anyone who beholds you can clearly see this
May you not be purely defined by the beauty of your physique
Or subject to pre-conceived ideas about who and what you should be
May your spirit be seen
Your heart keen
To illuminate generations to come along
Show us that we can do,
Be, Anything.
That one day, we won’t have to work thrice as hard to get where we need to
And will only depend on our man if we want to

Break free from any chains that will ever seek to bind you
Mental rains should fail to surround you
Fear cease to drown you
Dear women of colour, bright as day
I proudly say,
You are the future.

 

 

 

Anti.

Anti.

a poem by Apatsa Rose, Contracts Associate, Research and Enterprise Services

This fight has been happening for centuries.
The fight to be equal
Equally free
Equally paid
Equally perceived
Equally likely to stay alive.

The police have been crushing the bones and skulls of victims for years
Shooting the bodies of our peers
Then being promoted after this,
Whilst the testimonies of the dead
Fall on deaf ears.
The courts have ignored
Industries have soared
Churches have adored Jesus…but not the ones he came to save
Society has scored
On the backs of those who roared
And never stopped shouting.

But you
The worst of all
The one who makes up these institutions
Individuals
Beings
Humankind
Have bathed in apathy
Have laid in passivity
Have sprayed the cologne of accidie
So why ​now have you joined the fight?
Has lockdown given you a reason to think of others
Outside of yourself?
Outside of your circle?
Outside of anything that affects your existence?
Why is it that ​now
You have seen the light?
Who can blame you?
It’s in our nature…

Well done though

Clap for yourself
Honestly, go-ahead!
Congratulations for getting up and out of your complacent bed!
Splendid job
For climbing of
out the pit of
torpor
And posting a
picture on the trendy
bandwagon of “#blackouttuesday” because
Everybody’s doing it, so
why not you?
Take 2 minutes out of your
day to show you’re down with the culture
When this has never even crossed your mind!
It’s something I struggle to get behind
Because there’ll never be true equality
If mindsets stay sleeping
So why did it take George Floyd to make you see that there’s a problem?
Why now?


This is for all those who died at the hands of brutal force just for the colour of their skin, including George Floyd…

Is That You? A Bystander, Walking By Racism…

Dr Billy Wong, Associate Professor, Institute of Education

 

Calling out racist behaviour, especially to strangers in public, take courage because you never know how others would react. Understandably, you might be concerned about your own safety. You might even doubt and question your judgement. Was that really racism? Or just a misunderstanding? Or just banters between friends? If you interfere, the situation could go out of hand, or even violent. In the end, you decided it is probably best to carry on walking, minding your own business.

Later, you reflected, and thought you could have done something, but assured yourself in that moment, you were unprepared, with little options but to walk. You promised yourself to do better next time, and you know there will be.

With your family, friends and colleagues, you witnessed another episode of racist behaviour. This time, it was more implicit, nuanced and subtle. It was racial microaggression. You were unsure if it was intentional. It was a short comment in a conversation, which was flowing and before long, moved onto another topic. You did not think it was necessary to interrupt the conversation to revisit an earlier remark. So, you decided it is probably best to carry on listening.

Later, you reflected, and thought you could have done something, but assured yourself in that moment, you were unsure and no one else seemed troubled by it, so it was probably nothing. You promised yourself to do better next time, and you know there will be.

Being a bystander may be our default position on issues we feel unfamiliar, unprepared and unsure, but we must not get too comfortable in this role. If silence is complicity, then we must actively retrain our passive mindsets. We have activists who are challenging the inequalities of the status quo, but we need more, a lot more. Are you ready?

 

P.S. We can easily substitute racist behaviour and racism with other social inequalities, such as sexist behaviour and sexism, or more broadly, just unacceptable behaviours.

 

 

 

Inspired by our recent article: Wong, B., ElMorally, R., Copsey-Blake, M., Highwood, E., & Singarayer, J. (2020). Is race still relevant? Student perceptions and experiences of racism in higher education. Cambridge Journal of Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2020.1831441

 

Educating Ourselves: actively opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance

post by Nozomi Tolworthy 雷希望, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, adapted for the #DiverseReading blog

 

Click Here to Access Relevant Resources

 

As an individual who discusses and works in diversity, inclusion and representation most days, I’ve been lost for words recently.

There is no singular way for us to show up. What is most important is that we do the work that we can and it’s okay for this work to look different depending on our emotional capacity, financial circumstances, physical ability and personal situations. As long as we remain collectively committed to educating ourselves and those around us so we can change the systems we live in.

After seeing so many resources and helpful information being shared on social media over the last week, I’ve collected some of what others have shared and some resources I have learnt from, and put this together with the intention to help myself and those around me gain a better and more thorough understanding of racism and the anti-racist work we can all be doing.

To be anti-racist is to be a person who (actively) opposes racism and promotes racial tolerance.

It means ‘checking your privilege’, challenging our white* privilege and admitting how we might have benefited from a system of oppression in ways we have not considered before.
It means having conversations with our families, friends, colleagues, communities about race, even if it’s uncomfortable.
It means trying our best to educate ourselves on the history we might not have taught in school, on what we can do now.
It means showing up for Black folks** and striving for racial justice.
It means standing against overt and covert white supremacy and racism, from now on and always.

We are all educating ourselves and (un)learning at our own pace and investing our energy in ways that we can. We’ve been seeing a lot of information and resources shared across various platforms and I am finding it helpful to collect what I am seeing, so that I can continuously educate myself.

 

I hope you might too.

 

This document is by no means an exhaustive list and I hope to be able to continue to come back to it and update it with new knowledge and understanding over time. If you have any suggestions for additions, please let me know.

Click Here to Access Relevant Resources

 

White Fragility is when a white person feels uncomfortable about conversations around race. It can make you feel like you have to tone down your experiences with racism to make the person feel comfortable. Honor yourself by reclaiming the right to honestly express when something does not sit well in your body.

(‘white fragility’ infographic credit to @ogorchukwuu on Instagram)

 

*“When I write about white people … I don’t mean every individual white person. I mean whiteness as a political ideology …The politics of whiteness transcends the colour of anyone’s skin. It is an occupying force in the mind. It is a political ideology that is concerned with maintaining power through domination and exclusion. Anyone can buy into it, just like anyone can choose to challenge it.” (Eddo-Lodge, 2017)

**Whilst non-Black People of Colour (POC) also face racism, Black folks are suffering disproportionately under white supremacy and right now they need our support and attention.