Anti-Racist and “Decolonial” Activism in the Academy and Beyond- 27th March 2019

Naara Neto

Anti-Racist and “Decolonial” Activism in the Academy and Beyond- 27th March 2019


“The stories of our past are transformative agents for change”- Professor  Heidi  Safia Mirza


On the 27th of March academics, teachers, activists, students and staff workers gathered at the Bluecoat in Liverpool to discuss the legacy of colonialism in the curricular programme and the educational structure of primary, secondary and higher education.

The day was divided into 4 interactive panels, where both the panellists and audience had the opportunity to have a constructive and organic dialogue in which issues concerning immigration, race, individual and collective identity, colonial past and activism were raised.

This involved students, activists and experts who brilliantly contextualised and personalised race, gender inequality, Islamophobia and colonialism.

Here are 5 impactful and applicable points that you should consider when you are doing or helping with activism.


  1. Offer solidarity– Everyone should be ready to help one another in their struggle. When trying to raise awareness of racial injustice and intolerance, by participating in events or marches, let’s make sure that we are supportive and co-operative in these events, that aim to deconstruct oppressive social and educational structures.

Note- These apply to everyone! Lectures, students, staff workers and members outside of the academic community.


  1. Share your stories with others– There is so much power in sharing stories and past experiences, with the people around us. This is not only cathartic, as we verbalise our repressed emotions, but it also helps others to understand and empathise with our experiences. Surely, with their help, we will be able to recreate narratives and create more representative models.


  1. Don’t conform, don’t be complicit to injustice– Radical change only happens when people acknowledge their injustice and actively decide to resolve the problem.


This means that we must mobilise in order to seek change. Undoubtedly, change comes with a few challenges and it can be hard to persevere.

Nevertheless, if we don’t go outside of our “comfort zone”, we will never know what changes can happen!


  1. Practise self-care in Activism- During the event, many panellists express their experience as “exhausting and laborious”. So, it is important that you take some time off when it is necessary or talk to other team members and project leaders about any issues that you are encountering.


     5.Acknowledge the past– “You can’t acknowledge the future without taking into account the past”. As professor Mirza suggests, connecting with the past is powerful. It helps us to have a clear perspective of the present and enables us to formulate a slave-free mentality, ultimately allowing us to dream and experience a new and fresh dimension.


Photo 1 , Panel 1: “Context setting and overview of recent anti-racism and  ‘decolonial’ activism”– Adam Elliot-Cooper ( Department of Geography, Kings College, London), Kathy Sian ( department of sociology , University of York), Lola Olufemi ( NUS National executive committee), Ilyas Nadgee ( NUS Black Student’s officer), Omid Tofighian ( Department of Philosophy, American University of Cairo and founder of “Why is my curriculum white? Australasia”)


Photo 2, Keynote: “ Dismantle, Decolonise and disgrace” Professor Heidi Safia Mirza (Goldsmiths College London)


Photo 3,  Panel 2: “Contemporary student activism”, Lavinya Sennet (SOAS student union), Neelam Rai ( University of Manchester student union), Koehun Aziz- Kamara (Warwick anti-racism society), Larissa Kennedy  (Warwick student union) and Meleisa Ono-George (Senior teaching fellow Caribbean History and  director of student experience at the University of Warwick)


Photo 4, Panel 3: “ Immigration and anti-racism activism”– Zano Onokaye-Akaka and Lanre (Let us learn), Harriet Gray (School of law and social justice, University of Liverpool), Laura Loyola-Hernandez (International and Broke/Leeds UCU/ School of Geography, University of Leeds)


Photo 5: The Bluecoat, Liverpool