Uncategorized

Statement in response to remarks made by Dr Adam Perkins about the Somali community

TW: racism, anti-blackness (especially relating to Somali communities) and Islamophobia.

 

I would like to bring to everyone’s attention an incident which has taken place this weekend on Twitter. An academic by the name Adam Perkins, a lecturer in the Neurobiology of Personality at King’s College London, posted a series of racist and incredibly insulting remarks directed at the Somali community.

He stated that “Trump’s ban makes sense on human capital terms… people from ‘banned nations’ tend to be over-represented in crime and unemployment stats”. The fact that he refers to the vulnerable lives as “human capital” is distasteful in itself, but then goes on to imply that Somali’s chose to live in countries that will guarantee them social welfare (such as benefits in the UK) so that they don’t have to work – and ridiculously thought that providing Danish data would suffice. This is absolutely absurd. Additionally, according to him, Somali’s also don’t possess the “Scandinavian work ethic” that will supposedly allow them to work in the Nordic nations, and that Somali unemployment in the USA is 50%. There is absolutely NO evidence for this, and what on earth is meant by “Scandinavian work ethic”?  Lastly, he states that Although crafting his tweets carefully, evidently attempting to avoid any critique of his statements, saying “Danish data suggesting that welfare benefits taste sweeter to some cultures than others” is downright wrong and insulting. Also, why Danish data? Too lazy to find any British data?

As a British Somali, born from Somali refugees who have worked since DAY ONE upon entering this country, haven’t claimed a single penny in social benefits from the government, speaking little English, the fact that this lecturer can generalise is the most angry I have felt in a very long time. How dare you. Further statements which he has made which are completely untrue include: “Somalians don’t perform well either side of the Atlantic”, and that “if a migrant group is bad news I doubt national governments care much about the causes…”. Who said that the Somali migrant group was bad? Where is the evidence for this? The fact that he chose to pick on Somali’s alone says a lot.

As a society, it goes without saying that we completely disagree with the comments made by the lecturer, and absolutely does not represent the views of the institution. Academics must understand that they are utterly responsible to whatever they post on their social media channels just as they are for the words they say in a classroom, and such reckless tweeting, clearly made by this lecturer is a prime example that some may be unaware, or indeed neglect their duties of responsibility when expressing one’s views. Additionally, the Somali community at King’s now feel even more vulnerable to violence whether that may be physical or verbal, escalating the fear they already feel by recent events, especially with the rise of Islamophobia and xenophobia that has risen in the UK since Brexit, and now in the US by the inauguration of Trump.

At this crucial time, we must support ALL communities which are now subject to intense scrutiny and discrimination due to the actions of certain individuals with power, and would appreciate that ALL lecturers understood that whatever their comments, they will be held responsible for their remarks given their position of authority and trust. At the Intersectional Feminist Society, we demand that Dr Adam Perkins immediately apologises sincerely to the Somali community at King’s for which he has caused immense distress, and that he apologises for his offensive remarks about Somali’s without consulting solid evidence. We as IFemSoc extend our full support and solidarity to the Somali community at KCL and beyond with the distress caused by recent events.

With solidarity,

KCL Intersectional Feminist Society

 

*Article written by current BME Officer for IFemSoc*

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Black History Month, Black Women White Uni?, current affairs, Safe Space Policy, Uncategorized

BME Women, White Uni – Take Two

It has returned once again! This Saturday (22nd October 2016), our annual conference BME Women, White Uni commences to celebrate incredible, and dare I say, radical BME women.

The initiative began last year, and as Shruti, our Co-President last year (2015/16), brilliantly explains…

The idea is to celebrate the stories and the histories of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women at King’s, and to bring to everyone’s attention that their representation is missing from the hallways around us, from the history of King’s College London as we know it.

 Much has developed at King’s since last year. Black and Brown Shut It Down, #BlackOutTheWhiteWall campaign, the creation of the WoC and Non-Binary PoC Network, the Wall of BAME (at Strand Campus), the Open Doors initiative and last but not least, I Rise Magazine – due to launch its first issue next month. All of this was a direct response to the tireless campaigning by our BAME activists here at King’s. Those who rebelled against a white, privileged and male dominant curriculum (I’m a History student, reading what Etonians have to say about history is not fun whatsoever), by walking out of their lectures and seminars. Those who had faced intimidation, told straight to their faces to “wait for their time” to celebrate BME achievements in academia. The lone Muslim girl in her seminar strictly guarding what she had to say on certain topics because of Prevent. The lone BME who constantly feels overwhelmed. Due to this initiative last year – BME Women, White Uni can certainly be seen as the starting point of much needed and long overdue change to happen within the solemn – and sometimes exclusive walls of King’s College London.

But, the work is not yet complete. We must go further if they are to listen to us.

The aim of this campaign is to capture the diversity of BME women, as well as their accomplishments. However, as Shruti once again points out, this initiative absolutely does not claim to see each accomplishment and experience of BME women as ‘the same’.

 But it’s really important to make clear that we’re not putting this work out here as a collection that is representative of every BME woman on campus – every single one of them will have differing and varying experiences in one way or the other, and too often the problem with work like this is that it is expected to be reflective of the BME woman’s experience, or that one of us have been expected to speak for all of us. There’s a diversity and breadth to these voices that we did not expect to see when we began our work. 

It is obvious that all of our identities and experiences will be different. The experiences of Black women are different from Latinas. The experiences of a Muslim woman is different from a Hindu woman. The experiences of a cis woman of colour will be different from a non-binary person of colour. Although, the acronym BME is quite problematic in the sense that it assumes that every ethnic minority experiences the exact same prejudices and injustices. In that we are very totally different. Our experiences of making it in the world is so very different. However, it is this diversity that we want to celebrate. Rather than using it as a divisive force – it is uniting us BME women instead.

When I went to the conference last year, I remember feeling a bit of trepidation. I thought to myself, “Well, I’m a woman, I’m black, and I’m definitely an intersectional feminist”. However, little did I know how much my race and intersectionality intertwined. I vividly remember scribbling down my thoughts at that very moment, listening attentively to what each panellist had to say. One that hugely struck a chord with me at the time, and still does today, was Dr Deborah Gabriel’s defiant assertion “We cannot let them label us…to put us into categories”. I remember her saying these words with such power and rage, and given that I have such hideous memory – this is significant! When the panel discussions ended, I got that “I’m going to take over the world!” feeling that everyone pretty much gets after hearing such inspirational stories for hours. I was amazed.

Right now, I have the immense privilege of not just being the BME Officer of the Intersectional Feminist Society, but being able to organise the very conference this year. The conference will be made up of four panel discussions – BME Women in Academia, BME Women in STEM, BME Women in the Arts and BME Women in Politics and Leadership – and a workshop titled “Why is my curriculum White?”. Such discussions are meant to stimulate thought and debate, thinking about these real-life issues in an unapologetic way.

The schedule is as follows:

10:30 – 10:45: Introduction to the conference by Imaan Ashraf (Co-President of the Intersectional Feminist Society) and Rahma Hussein (BME Officer of the Intersectional Feminist Society).

10:45 – 12:00: Introductory Panel – BME Women in Academia

12:15 – 13:30: Panel – BME Women in STEM

13:30 – 14:00 – Lunch break

At the same time as lunch, workshops will begin.

13:30 – 14:15: Workshop – Why Is My curriculum White? (run by KPoC)

14:00 – 15:15: Panel – BME Women in the Arts

15:15 – 15:45: Workshops, Why is my curriculum White?

15:45 – 16:30: Panel – BME Women in Politics and Leadership

16:30 – 16:45: Last chance to partake in workshops

16:50 – 17:00: Closing remarks by your People of Colour Officer

We hope that you find the event intellectually stimulating and inspiring! I would also like to thank the People of Colour Association (KPoC) for supporting us through and through! Purchase your tickets here: https://www.kclsu.org/ents/event/3615/ (you know you want to!)

Love and solidarity,

Rahma and the IFemSoc committee

xxx

Rahma is a 2nd year History student at King’s College London. Being the current BME Officer of the Intersectional Feminist Society, she is also a political campaigner, as well as being the Founder and Editor of I Rise magazine – aimed at WoC and non-binary PoC – due to launch next month. If you’d like to speak about this event further, or have any questions, feel free to send her a message though Twitter. Also, if you wish to quote this article – permission to do so must be sought beforehand.   

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Article, Statement, Statements in Support

What matters now?

It matters that Pulse was an LGBT+ club.
It matters it was Pride.
It matters it was a Latinx night.
It matters the headliners were trans and of colour.
It matters that the shooter got an assault rifle so easily.
It matters that 53 people are injured.
It matters that 49 people are dead.

It matters the Christian right introduced 200 anti-LGBT+ bills in the 6 months before this.
It matters, the same week, someone bombed a Target restroom.*
It matters a white man brought weapons and explosives to another Pride event the same day.
It matters the media neglected to say it was a gay club for hours.
It matters the media suddenly remembered when the shooter turned out to be Muslim.
It matters we don’t know the shooter had any motivation beyond queerphobia.
It matters we do know he had a history of toxic masculinity and wife beating.
It matters this may be the 2nd or 3rd worst US mass shooting after Wounded Knee and very possibly Tulsa.
It matters that AMAB queers and their partners aren’t allowed to donate blood.
It matters that straights are highjacking the discourse, whether into “All Lives Matter,” or somehow into anti-selfie culture, stonewalling dissenting LGBT+ and queer voices at every turn.

What matters is that the lives and  deaths of queer people of colour don’t matter to them.

None of the people crying out about the queerphobia of Islamic extremism care about dead queers – much less dead queers of colour. Trump and his cronies have spent the past number of months talking about “building a wall” to keep out Latin@ people – just like those who were killed on Saturday. Disgusting and exhausting as the Sky News video was, Julia Hartley-Brewer was wholly astute when she said that, if people weren’t moved enough by the slaughtered children at Sandy Hook to do something about gun control, you can bet dollars to donuts that news of 49 Latinx queers isn’t going to affect any change at all. Rather, the media and pundits will continue to deflect, continue to divide and conquer. Yesterday, queers and above all trans women were dangerous threats to public (esp. bathroom) safety. Today, we are victims, held in binary opposition to Islam, for conservative political point-scoring. It suits white-centric, neocon queerphobic powers-that-be to imply that there are no queer Muslims, currently feeling sickened by someone who may or indeed very well may not have committed an atrocity in the name of their religion of peace, feeling frightened by yet another display of violent queerphobic oppression experienced, as per usual, by trans/femme queer people of colour first, and feeling dread in the face of reprisals enacted upon the homogenised orientalist Dutch cartoon image of Islam the media remain desperate as ever to portray.

These people have no understanding of what a space like a gay club can mean for we who are not yet out, or who are finding exactly who we are. The one secret girl in an all boy’s school, the club scene was where I first began to discover and negotiate my sexuality and gender. It was where I was first able to put on a dress, and hear nothing apart from “nice dress.”  It was where I gained enough of a community to feel safe enough in coming out to be prepared for the negative consequences. Everyone with power, taking advantage of the outpouring of grief since Saturday night would have liked nothing more than to see Pulse shut down and replaced with shops or high-end apartments. Some of them haven’t even bothered to mask their utter lack of sorrow in the face of queer deaths at all. I have spent enough time attending and, since last year, hosting Transgender Day of Remembrance to be aware of the wide margin between numbers of murdered queer people of colour and murdered white queers to know that the pronouns “we,” “us” and “our” in relation to white queer solidarity with the victims of Saturday’s attack are deflections of the whole truth: whichever way you look at this thing, people of colour are the primary victims, both in and outside of the club. We must not allow queerphobic racists to incite queer racism. The atrocity of Saturday night can hardly be said to be the work of a “lone gunman” in a society that promotes hatred and bigotry at the level of both public policy and social ostracisation of otherness every single day.

What matters is that we acknowledge our similarities, address our differences, support our most vulnerable first and respond from the grassroots. We cannot trust politicians or the media to respond morally, or to have our interests at heart; that is not their purpose. We must not simply stand, but act in support and solidarity of those lost and those who remain. We must fight the ideology of hatred that inspired the Orlando shooter, whom I shall continue not to name on social media, but we must also realise that it is very nearly the same hatred that inspires our politicians to make our lives harder for our genders and sexualities, our ethnicities and abilities. What matters is that 49 people with hopes, dreams, pasts and futures didn’t deserve to die for who they were, but they did. What matters is that we fight for a time when nobody will. Rest in Power to the victims of the Orlando shooting. Recover in Power to the survivors.

 

 

*debates are ongoing as to whether this was for transphobic, ideological reasons, or drug manufacture gone awry.
Please consider donating to the Muslims United For Victims of Pulse Shooting fundraiser.

Lexi Turner is a soon-to-graduate 3rd year Film student at King’s, who held positions on the iFemSoc committee as Events Organiser in 2013-2014 and Trans Rep in 2015-2016. Ze is available to message via the iFemSoc Facebook group or via hir personal Facebook.

If you want to write for us, come check out our Writing Topics Page. Or if you want to find more fantastic intersectional articles from us, go check out our Contents Page

 

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current affairs, Statement, Statements in Support, Uncategorized

Letter In Solidarity with Isoc & our Muslim Community at King’s.

This letter is to state that King’s College London’s Intersectional Feminist Society stands in solidarity with our Muslim Community here at King’s following the abhorrent acts that occurred last Friday (04/03/2016). For those who are not fully aware, two white men approached the sisters manning an Islam Awareness Week stall and began verbally attacking them. This eventually escalated to physical threats of violence, and a fellow sister had her niqab (full-face veil) pulled off by one of the men.  For a complete run down on what happened, you can refer to the Roar article or refer to Issa Ruhani’s post on the KCL Islamic Society page. However it is key to note here that not only did security fail to act in protecting Muslim students, but that the University has falsely reported the event to put themselves in a better light, where they have argued that they intervened with what happened. What actually occurred was that it was left to a Muslim brother to place himself in between the sisters and the perpetrators. It was only when senior staff were called that that action was taken, i.e. calling the police

What this letter of solidarity would like to make clear is four things:
(1)  There is a growing atmosphere of aggressive Islamophobia, in not just this University and other educational institutions but across the nation. This attack is just one example of the climate of fear and oppression Muslim students have had to mitigate against and navigate while attending this University.
(2)  The University has proven itself to be racist and Islamophobic in its deployment of ‘safety’ and ‘security’ over the past months.
(3) Right now is the time for our wider student body to rally behind our Muslim community, specifically our Muslim women, and commit to obtaining justice for  what has happened.
(4) Combating racism and Islamophobia at this institution and in wider society is integral to an intersectional approach. We urge all other liberation societies to join us in condemning these events, pushing for a full inquiry, and supporting the Islamic Society during this time.

This attack is unfortunately not a new story for Muslim people in Britain. Already this year we have heard in the news countless examples of Muslim people – frequently Muslim women – being physically assaulted by predominantly white men. From this we can assume that countless more cases have occurred that have not reached national news. It is important to stress that this attack was an explicitly gendered form of Islamophobia,a growing reality for Muslim women here in the West. What we can say however is that at King’s, this event is a tipping point– thanks to the committed work of POC at King’s, and the fact that ISoc have a safe and protected space to organise, this event will not be pushed into obscurity. 

It is incredibly important that people reflect on how this response by the University and the security staff is racialised. This attack has come after countless events where an disproportionate amount of security has been repeatedly brought onto campus for peaceful protests, film screenings, and panel events. When our POC association held a peaceful protest to obtain a meeting regarding the BME attainment gap they were faced with a wall of security and police officers: a message clearly stating that the wider student body was to be protected from them. Yesterday female Muslim students were verbally and physically attacked, and security did not intervene. A clear message that Muslim students are not seen as individuals worth protecting in the same light.

At this moment in time King’s students, and various King’s societies, should be reflecting on this injustice and position themselves to be ready to support ISoc and our Muslim community in whatever call for action is voiced. This is especially  the case for white allies who need to show the University that when they fail to defend Muslim students, and later report falsehoods about what happened, that they will have the scrutiny of the whole student body on their hands.

Sincerely,
iFemSoc Committee.

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Uncategorized

Statement of Solidarity with KEMA

Following the events of the last few weeks, KCL Intersectional Feminist Society would like to reiterate their support for King’s Ethnic Minority Association (KEMA), and continue to stand in full solidarity with their efforts to challenge the university’s silence surrounding POC students’ experiences on campus.

KEMA have worked tirelessly in order to have BME students’ voices heard and acknowledged, only to be repeatedly dismissed and treated with suspicion by the college in the process. There are just some of the issues they have faced this past month:

1) Prior to the PoC walkout on 11th February, KEMA received ‘updated’ information on the data collected for the attainment gap at King’s showing that it has been severely distorted – while the results of the Diversity and Inclusion report from the academic year 2014/2015 revealed that the attainment gap at KCL was 19%, KEMA later received an email stating this figure had changed to 12% with little explanation on how this error was made and why it was only amended once the statistics had been investigated.

2) Moreover, they were subsequently informed in an email from the Principal that there was a BME Student Success Working Group set up to tackle their demands, which in fact was discovered to have been disbanded at the end of the last academic year as was confirmed by Ben Hunt, VP of Education (Arts and Sciences) who was said to be part of the Working Group.

3) The same email also noted that harassment and bullying reporting systems have been overhauled due to the college-wide It Stops Here campaign. This, however, is a campaign against sexual harassment and conflating the two campaigns is a disservice to the main student organiser, and Co-President of iFemSoc, Hareem Ghani.

4) Just before the ‘Blackout the White Wall’ action which took place on 18th February, it came to KEMA’s attention that the Principal had requested a member of staff from the Diversity and Inclusion department to arbitrarily pick ten to fifteen PoC students to speak on behalf of the entire campaign, rather than agreeing to an open meeting that KEMA initially requested. KEMA had not been contacted regarding this, and we feel the decision to have a closed meeting demonstrated that there had been a fundamental lack of understanding of the real issues at hand.

5) Five internal security officials and two uniformed police officers were also called to this action, which involved a peaceful protest of approximately fifty students. This was a ridiculous overreaction, and reflects the all-too-common tendency to automatically treat BME communities as suspects.

These instances clearly indicate that the college refused to admit to their failings, and have instead tried to undermine the demands of PoC students with excuses and ambiguous information. Meanwhile, students involved with the campaign have faced relentless online harassment as well as underhand comments from staff members, which is completely unacceptable.

Nevertheless, representatives from KEMA have refused to back down and as a result of their persistent efforts, have secured an open meeting to take place on Tuesday 8th March at 11.30am in the Great Hall (https://www.facebook.com/events/1954504961441837/). This is open to ALL students and will finally present the chance for students of colour to demand some solutions to an unrepresentative, Eurocentric curriculum and speak about an university environment which is largely inaccessible for them.

Once again, we affirm that iFemSoc are in complete solidarity with KEMA and we offer our support to them throughout this campaign. KEMA have also put together a full account of events, and they would be grateful if you could take some time to read it and sign their open letter addressed to the university: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19FJU0Q_jldpbHAjF7xcsHlaumyqvqKeZl5ykAijnbEY/edit

Finally, we urge you all to visibly show your support and attend next Tuesday’s open meeting, which is one that has been years in the making.

#PoCShutItDown

Read KEMA’s initial list of demands here: https://www.facebook.com/KEMAonline/posts/1701693873406140

 

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Uncategorized

Call for Action: ‘Black & Brown, Shut it Down! PoC & Allies Walkout’

KCL Intersectional Feminist Society would like to issue a statement stating that we are in full support of the student walkout being organised by King’s Ethnic Minority Association on Thursday 11th February.

This call to action has been organised as a demand for more urgent action to be taken regarding the lack of diversity in curricula, as well as the ongoing disregard of students of colour in their experiences in various aspects of their university education, such as toxic teaching environments, lack of sufficient mental health support or the day-to-day microaggressions they often face.

Data taken from the King’s BME Fact sheet in their January 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Newsletter show that there was an attainment gap of 19% between home undergraduate BME students and white students in 2013/14 at King’s, while at UCL and Imperial this figure stands below 5%. Moreover, BME students nationally are 16.1% less likely to attain a 2:1 or a first in their degree. While we appreciate the effort taken to raise awareness of these issues via such statistics, they continue to be presented with very few solutions in sight and as a result, no tangible change being felt.

Therefore, while it has become clear to many at King’s – including staff – of the deep-rooted problems that exist within the institution, the college is not doing enough to remedy these issues and protect the interests of students of colour. The institution has ultimately demonstrated a lack of urgency in responding to PoC’s concerns, which we believe is indicative of institutional racism.

As an Intersectional society, we have worked hard to be able to serve students of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds and acknowledge that their experiences at university greatly vary to their white counterparts. This campaign reflects this very notion, and we urge all of you to join us to stand in solidarity with this walkout.

For more details surrounding the campaign, as well as information on official KCL diversity assessments and ongoing research, please visit King’s Ethnic Minority Association’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KEMAonline/?fref=nf

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/989432367788681/

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Uncategorized

The motions we are backing/opposing for AGM 2016

KCL Intersectional Feminist Society have considered the motions put forward at the KCLSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), and have found two motions in particular to bring to the attention of our members.

We strongly urge all iFemSoc members to show their support for the following motion(s):

Create a Trans Officer for Student Council – The universality of non-straight experience and politics has been routinely greatly overstated. For this reason we believe, just as our society has a dedicated trans officer, so too should KCLSU to field the plentiful trans-specific student issues a cisgender LGB rep may not reasonably be expected to know how to handle.

We would also encourage all iFemSoc members to consider voting against the following motion to restructure the full-time sabbatical officer team:

Student Officer Structure – The motion proposes to replace the current positions of President, Vice President of Activities and Development, Vice President Education (Health), Vice President Education (Arts and Science) and Vice President of Welfare and Community, with the positions of Union Development Officer, Postgraduate Health Officer, Undergraduate Health Officer, Postgraduate Arts and Sciences Officer and Undergraduate Arts and Sciences Officer.

We believe this restructuring to be detrimental to the liberation efforts of (minority) students at King’s. It is important to realise that KCLSU is a place that does not solely focus on the academic needs of students, but also empowers students to enact change – as we have seen through the many liberation campaigns that have successfully taken place over the past few years. The restructuring has the very real possibility of side-lining liberation efforts and the voices of minority students like ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT+ and international students.

Additionally, students have not sufficiently been consulted about the proposed restructuring of the Union. Without the mediation process where Associations could get involved, and write clauses into the job descriptions of each role, we are now left with a motion that asks for a restructuring that can be abused to have no welfare attentions what so ever.

Furthermore, the data used to create this structure has not been shared by the student officer team or KCLSU staff – therefore it is impossible to know when the data was collected, who was consulted and how this data fed into the creation of the proposed structure.

Restructuring the Union is a very big decision and should not be taken lightly. It has been rightfully suggested that more time ought to have been given for students to be consulted and amendments made, so that the motion and the debate around it did not bypass the the student body. We strongly believe that such an important motion should not be left at the discretion of the 76 students present on the day (0.003% of the entire student body). It is also important to consider how, as a result of the new AGM format, those voting online will not even have been able to hear and think on the points raised in the debate at the meeting on Thursday.

Lastly, we want to take the time to stress that we are not seeking to demonise or attack the student officer team for their attempts to restructure the union. In many ways we are incredibly grateful for their efforts to engage a larger student body. As heard during the debate at AGM, we believe that the creation of postgraduate officer roles is extremely valuable, but we do not believe that postgraduate involvement should come at the expense of welfare and liberation. We also insist that the process of restructuring ought to be more democratic and inclusive of the student body.

The vast majority of you were not have able to attend the Annual General Meeting on Thursday 4th February, but you still have the opportunity to vote online – or make necessary amendments if you have voted already – via www.kclsu.org/studentvoice/agm .

Remember voting closes on Monday 8th February at 9am!

 

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