“A statement is just not enough, people are dying”

Co-chair of the Decolonise Sociology Committee Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa reflects on the shortcomings of institutional solidarity statements issued in response to Black Lives Matter. You can listen to the podcast of this transcript on The Naked Scientist (11:38-14:22).

What I think is interesting as an outcome of Black Lives Matter is the reaction that we see at the university level. In the University of Cambridge, there is a big demand for seeing issues of racism more closely and realising the importance that it has to understand that racial equality, and especially racial justice, is something that we cannot keep delaying.

It’s very interesting the amount of statements of solidarity that have come up, and the amount of reaction against those statements saying a statement is just not enough, people are dying, and have been dying. And there we are with a statement, what does that mean for an institution?

And not only the University of Cambridge but you see that many other universities, associations, research groups of different kinds that are trying to kind of make a stand, but then at the same time that isn’t received so well in the sense that we need action more than words, we need to demonstrate, not just say, not just spell that we care, but actually demonstrate that.

And that starts with where are our black students? Where are our black professors, and lecturers and senior lecturers and academics and researchers? What are the topics that address these issues? Where is the senior leadership that has more black members of staff?

So the call for change is demanded on a very concrete practical level. It’s not enough now to say we understand the situation. And I think that has been a struggle for a long time. Like, raise awareness, and just try to help people to come to terms with things, to be better people and nicer people, but that’s just not enough.

So it is quite interesting to be part of this, to witness how maybe the coronavirus situation has allowed people some space to think. There is an environment, or a feeling at least that I have, is that this lockdowns and quarantine situation has opened a dent for a possibility to stop, to stop our crazy, rushing reactions to life and to see okay what matters? What is it that matters now? And I think that is a good reflection.

Listen to the full podcast on The Naked Scientist.

“People of colour cannot be the exception anymore, anywhere”

Watch Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa introduce Angela Davis in Conversation with Jackie Kay. You can read all about this event on the Sociology Blog.

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