Activism, Critique, Workshops

The Origins of BARC

Business and management schools have a problem.

While we research diversity and teach it on the curriculum, the classroom
overwhelmingly focuses on whiteness, Eurocentric knowledge and North American corporate practice. Students of colour/Global South students are expected to engage with content that does not reflect their realities, theorisation that actively excludes them, and Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 15.34.13learning environments in which the voices of white students and the English medium are often dominant.

University management and teaching staff is also predominantly white as well as male, and most fail to interrogate their own positionality and privilege. Racialised perceptions lead staff to deem these same students less able, less networked, and lacking in aspiration and social capital. All of this feeds into an attainment gap that is not being meaningfully addressed.

In addition, staff of colour/Global South staff face issues with career progression, recognition, publishing, and doing a disproportionate amount of labour that is caring, feminised and emotional, and which is therefore undervalued. We are over-represented in professional services roles, lower academic pay grades, and on precarious contracts, and while our labour is the backbone of the university, our voices and power are restricted and suppressed accordingly. This is particularly true for women.  Despite the numbers of home students of colour growing year on year, this is not reflected in the makeup of staff, with home academics of colour having only grown from 4.8% in 2004 to 6.2% in 2015. As whiteness is the norm, and whiteness remains the unmarked and invisible standard of achievement, it is critical to talk about race.

Building the Anti-Racist Classroom aims to bring together scholars of colour and anti-racist allies around these issues. We believe that meaningful change only occurs through radical thinking and collective organising and that the time is ripe for these conditions to change.

Our aims are as follows:

    • To provide a safe space for management educators of colour and white allies to engage with contemporary anti-racist theory in order to develop critique, knowledge tools and resources supporting the enhancement of pedagogy.
    • To facilitate mutual learning between established and new faculty who face different challenges in relation to anti-racist work
    • To enable participants to identify the key issues specific to their local and institutional contexts, share strategies for addressing them, and design activities to begin implementing and advocating for anti-racist practices in their universities.

In recognition of the fact our own discipline is lacking in critical racial analysis and anti-racist work, we have developed an interdisciplinary programme that features leading UK scholars in sociology and education, the disciplines in which cutting edge work in this area is being done. The schedule has been planned to be interactive, centring participants’ experiences of racism in the classroom, and from this, we will collectively develop practical tools, intervention pathways, and an anti-racist agenda for management and organisation studies in UK HE.

Our pilot event took place on Thursday 18- Friday 19 October 2018 at Queen Mary University of London. Please read a summary of the event here.

Letters, Testimonials, Workshops

A letter to BARC and all the wonderful people of colour

“The journey starts where I will it, so I hope to see you along the beautiful road to freedom!” – Sima

To my people,

Afraid. Alone. Abandoned.

That was what I most unwillingly felt before a project called the BreakThrough! I was then able to master and abolish these feelings to some extent through this project by building up my resilience and confidence in not only my personal ability and skills, but my identity and the strengths that lie behind my ethnicity and heritage. I was always conscious of my skin colour and what that meant regarding how I establish myself in the world and most definitely, how the world will establish itself around me. This project therefore allowed me to voice those inner bombarding emotions and helped me acknowledge and understand that the discriminatory practises of white privilege and culture and racism are real and alive and very much prominent in everyday life.

Then came the BARC Collective.

Another well positioned platform for me to utilise and help muster the burning strength that I knew I had clustering inside me. I knew I could finally be myself and really showcase what I am, who I am and who I wish to be. I am fire. I am rage. I am love and hate and friendship. I am cheeky. I am strong. I am skilled and motivated and worthy. But most importantly I am a woman of colour! This part, the most important part to me, is something that I often failed, and unfortunately was scared, to voice. So when BreakThrough! came along, and then BARC, I knew I had the opportunity to finally be myself. Finally. BARC gave me a platform, a chance and a space to voice myself, to voice my constant disappointment and burning rage with the undemocratic and despicable system of institutional racism, of racial and religious repression, of the hypocrisy of meritocracy. BARC gave me an unwarranted outlet to voice my grievances, to face the world that was so strategically trying to keep me out, to meet other women of colour who understood my pain and my story, to develop a stronger sense of who I am, to create strategies and ways in which to demolish the barriers of White privilege, and most importantly provided me with the safest place where I could truly be me. A woman of colour.

This is my story, my life, my experience and I will not give up nor give in because

I am a strong woman of colour!

Your sister of colour,

Sima Akter