The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was marked by the UN General Assembly in the 1970s to fight racism globally, recognising that too many individuals, communities and societies are still discriminated against and are treated unjustly.
The focal theme for 21st March 2022 is “Voices for Action Against Racism” and it aims at strengthening meaningful participation, increasing representation and recognising the contributions of different individuals and communities.
Allyship and advocacy are key in fighting racial discrimination and we encourage all LJMU students and staff to educate themselves, be active bystanders and to call out discriminatory behaviours.
The LJMU Library provides an extensive list of free resources for all students and staff to access.
LJMU has been running a series of projects to create more inclusive work and study environments, by looking at the curriculum, using inclusive language, creating more inclusive spaces and by connecting staff and students from different ethnic backgrounds to have open and honest conversations about race and racism via the Reciprocal Mentoring Programme.
Marie Hie, Black and Asian Minority Ethnic Part-time Officer at JMSU has been part of the Reciprocal Mentoring Programme over the past two years. Here, she shares her thoughts on her experiences to date...
In your own words, what is the reciprocal mentoring programme?
Personally, I think the programme was aimed at breaking the barriers between White and Black peers, when it comes to communication and race issues.
Why did you sign up to the programme?
I think I was either invited by a friend or from a video I saw from previous students, who recommended the programme. I found their reviews interesting which made me join.
Videos from past mentors and mentees can be accessed here: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/microsites/blacklivesmatter/reciprocal-and-reverse-mentoring
What were your thoughts before starting the programme?
I didn’t really have any expectations as I went in with an open mind. I was made aware that the conversations could be sensitive and/or uncomfortable but I could share what I was comfortable with. Although my mentees were more mature and from a different generation, I really appreciated the mutual respect and honesty.
What have you learnt so far from your mentors / mentees?
We all have our own biases, that’s how we navigate our personal worlds. I spent half of my life in two countries where the majority are white, so I grew up around white people and got to listen and to an extent understand their knowledge on race specifically. I’m Italian and one of my mentees is also Italian, which was pretty interesting, because we were able to compare and understand racism in England and Italy and how I navigated schools/university as a Black person in both countries. I loved how crude, honest and open we both were with questions and our own experiences. Before I met two of my mentees, I never really thought of how white parents of black children dealt with the racism through their children, it never really crossed my mind. It definitely opened my eyes and made the scheme a good experience for me as it was a lot easier for me to explain my experience because I know they understood me, to an extent. Another mentee works closely with Black colleagues, so it was pleasant to know how all of them wanted to learn and were respectful and honest. It was also interesting navigating the notion of race/racism across different generations and how society perceives it now than back during their times.
What have you learnt about LJMU?
There is no doubt that LJMU like many other institutions can do more to make Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics feel included and part of the university life and experience, LJMU is on the right path. I believe that this programme can help people unlearn their biases and ask all these uncomfortable questions to better themselves.
Has the programme added to your university experience? If so, how?
100%! This is my second year in the programme and I have learnt so much and hopefully I have helped my mentees to understand more about a Black student/peer’s experience in a predominantly White space. I would definitely recommend any student or staff to partake in, it’s a great way to make connections and learn.
The Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme started as a collaborative project between the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team and Liverpool John Moores Students’ Union. If you would like to find out more, please visit: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/microsites/blacklivesmatter/reciprocal-and-reverse-mentoring
LJMU has now expanded The Reciprocal Mentoring Scheme to various organisations across Merseyside. We are working with community leaders in the City and we planning to expand the scheme further within LJMU as well.
If you would like to get in touch directly and / or require any support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org