Here you can find resources to learn more about race equality, anti-racist practices, decolonising universities, and the steps everyone can take to become an active ally. These resources will support your conversations on race and racism with your fellow students, colleagues, friends, and family members. Self-education is essential to acknowledging the extent of racism in our society and how we can unintentionally perpetuate it, as well as how we can address it and influence change.
For a list of resources on diversity available from the Library, please click here.
- Antiracism Strategy
You can view the University's Antiracism Strategy 2022-25 document here.
- Race Equality Charter
The University of Aberdeen is a signatory to the Advance HE‘s "Race Equality Charter" which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. We are committed to following these five principles of the charter:
- Racial inequalities are a significant issue within higher education. Racial inequalities are not necessarily overt, isolated incidents. Racism is an everyday facet of UK society and racial inequalities manifest themselves in everyday situations, processes and behaviours.
- UK higher education cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population and until individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.
- In developing solutions to racial inequalities, it is important that they are aimed at achieving long-term institutional culture change, avoiding a deficit model where solutions are aimed at changing the individual.
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group. People from different ethnic backgrounds have different experiences of and outcomes from/within higher education, and that complexity needs to be considered in analysing data and developing actions.
- All individuals have multiple identities, and the intersection of those different identities should be considered wherever possible.
- Learn more about race and racism
These resources will help you learn more about race and racism, and how to become anti-racist to support our racialised community members.
“You cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand.”
- Layla F. Saad (2020)
Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be An Anti–Racist
Peggy McIntosh – White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack
Baratunde Thurston – How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time
Heather C. McGhee – Racism Has a Cost for Everyone
Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
- Decolonising Academia
Decolonising academia refers to understanding that the epistemological framework of British universities is rooted in colonialism, which is Eurocentric, marginalizes knowledge of other geographical and cultural contexts, and aims to present itself as universal. Broadly speaking, decolonising as a process is the changing and rethinking of this framework through challenging this system of knowledge.
- bell hooks - Teaching To Transgress: Education as the Practice to Freedom
- Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial, Kerem Nişancıoğlu – Decolonising the University
- Jason Arday and Heidi Safia Mirza – Dismantling Race in Higher Education
- Katy Sian – Navigating Institutional Racism in British Universities
- Sara Ahmed – On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life
- Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti – Mapping Interpretations of Decolonization in the Context of Higher Education
These books discuss the contemporary environment of racial inequality and its challenges to anti-racism; the neoliberal economy, colour blind racism, the history and experience of racism in the UK.
- Afua Hirsch – Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging
- Akala – Natives: Race and Class in the ruins of empire
- Alex Vitale - The End of Policing
- Bernadine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other
- Beverley Bryan et al. – The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain
- Bridget Byrne et al. – Ethnicity, Race and Inequality in the UK: State of the Nation
- Chris Allen – Reconfiguring Islamophobia: A Radical Rethinking of a Contested Concept
- David Olusoga – Black and British: A Forgotten History
- Eduardo Bonilla-Silva – Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America
- Kalwant Bhopal – White privilege: The Myth of a Postracial Society
- Mary Kate McGowan – Just Words: On Speech and Hidden Harm
- Neil Davidson et al. – No Problem Here: Understanding Racism in Scotland
- Reni Eddo Lodge – Why I No Longer Talk To White People About Race
- Ron Ramdin – The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain
- Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between The World and Me
- Reading list - Ruth Taylor, Vice-Principal Education
As we work towards our ambition of creating an anti-racist University, it’s important that we take the time to educate ourselves with as many resources as possible.
Ruth Taylor, Vice-Principal Education, talks us through some of her recent reading and how it helped her to better understand issues of racial inequality.
- Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race
This was one of the first books I read, and it really helped with my understanding of anti-racism and racism. The book addresses areas such as history, feminism, class, white privilege and more, and I’m keen to read this one again.
- How to argue with a racist
This book is concise, factual, challenging, informative and clear. I thought that it brilliantly identifies how we are “steered towards views that are not supported by the modern study of genetics” due to experiences and cultural baggage. I found it very enjoyable to read.
- White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism
This one talks us through theory and experiences and offers advice, and Diangelo helps us to see how to talk about race and the barriers to those conversations. As the back-cover states, the book “moves our national discussion forward” by exposing “racism in thought and action.”
- We need new stories: Challenging the toxic myths behind our age of discontent
This book is focused on contemporary prejudices, looks at our politics, and makes a plea for greater diversity in what Malik sees as a divisive period of history. It asks some great questions of the reader, and there’s good analysis from both a political and historical perspective.
- White privilege: The myth of a post-racial society
My take home from this book is that we may think that we live in a post-racial society, but of course we do not. It describes the disadvantages and marginalisation in our society and has chapters on higher education, schooling, inequalities, and white privilege.
This book explains so many things about Britain’s past and its impact on today’s society (and how Britain is in the world). There are plenty of historical references, including a huge bibliography at the end, but also lots of examples of people’s lives and their stories and it was a book I really enjoyed.
- Access all areas: The diversity manifesto for TV and beyond
Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder
A short read, this book focuses on television but there are lots of parts that are relevant to a wide range of organisations. The eight-point manifesto for change at the end of the book is interesting and I wonder if this is something we could perhaps create for the University.
- Navigating institutional racism in British universities
This is an excellent book and I was glad to read something that is particularly focused on our sector. The book includes lots of content on creating a race equality strategy and the associated actions and talks about decolonising the curriculum.
- Natives: Race and class in the ruins of empire
I enjoyed the personal story of this book alongside the theory, as well as the historical and current realities for many people.
- Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race
Here you can find reports of race equality, institutional racism, and the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students in institutions of higher education.
- Equality and Human Rights Commission - Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged
- Runnymede Trust - Taking Stock: Race Equality in Scotland
- Sofia Akel - Insider-Outsider: The Role of Race in Shaping the Experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic Students
- Universities UK - Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Student Attainment at UK Universities: #CLOSINGTHEGAP
- Universities UK - Tackling Racial Harassment in Higher Education
First anniversary of the killing of George Floyd
25 May 2021
Dear colleagues and students,
We wanted to write to you to acknowledge that a year has passed since the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to reflect on the significance of this anniversary.
We understand that this will be a difficult time for many of us. If you do wish to talk or access support, please visit our Race Equality web pages.
The appalling events of 25 May 2020 further highlighted endemic racism in society and prompted the Higher Education sector to call for more action to address racism. The Black Lives Matter movement motivated us to accelerate our work on race equality by listening to, and learning from, our valued diverse community.
We are dedicated to implementing a bold Anti-Racism Strategy and creating a culture of inclusion where all our staff and students feel welcome and safe. Our Race Equality Strategy Group is supporting us with this work as we begin consultation on our strategy. This strategy is informed by our institutional data as well as feedback from our new anonymous and confidential online reporting tool. Our aim is to fully understand and address the barriers faced by staff and students of colour, by actively listening to the lived experiences of our community. A recent conversation between Professor Ruth Taylor and PhD student, Karendeep Sidhu can be viewed here.
Our commitments under the Race Equality Charter provide a focus and structure for this work. The recent race equality training in the University continues to raise awareness about race and inspire action at individual and organisational level. Our ongoing conversations on race, the appointment of Race Equality Champions, discussions on de-colonisation and a range of events delivered through Black History Month have increased our understanding of racism and strengthened our resolve to tackle it.
This poignant anniversary reminds us that we have much to do to realise our ambition of creating an anti-racist University. Our commitment to Advance HE’s Declaration on Race is unwavering, and, with your support, we will continue to drive forward this critical work and remember how the events of 25 May 2020, as well as other such tragic incidents both before and since George Floyd’s death, have galvanised the global fight against racism.
Racism exists on our campuses and in our society, call it what it is and reject it in all its forms. We stand united against racism.
Advance HE Declaration on Race
With best wishes
Ruth, Bhatty and Cecilia
Ruth Taylor and Siladitya Bhattacharya
Senior Race Equality Champions
Co-chairs, Race Equality Strategy Group
AUSA Student President
Tackling racism in Higher Education
To tackle racism on our campus, we first need to learn about the experiences of our community.
In August 2020, Ruth Taylor and Siladitya Bhattacharya spoke with medical students Jessica Eze and Karina Chopra about race equality at the University, and their experiences of racism during their studies.
In May 2021, Ruth Taylor spoke with PhD student, Karendeep Sidhu. Watch their conversation here.
Black Lives Matter
8 July 2020
Dear colleagues and students,
Our stance on racism could not be clearer - this University does not tolerate racist or discriminatory behaviour and we will take action where it occurs.
Like many other institutions we have our own story to tell and we will do so openly and honestly as we pledged in our statement in relation to Black Lives Matter.
Part of that story is about our own historical connections to slavery and we are investing in a new research post investigating those links. It will shine a light on how the University and the North-east of Scotland benefited from the proceeds of the slave trade. It will also explain the role of those connected to the University who were involved in slavery or actively sought its abolition.
Examples of this legacy remain with us - such as some of our campus architecture or financial endowment funds. These too will be highlighted.
Separately, this month we will also launch a new series of listening sessions for students and staff. These will enable us to continue to learn from those prepared to share their own lived experiences, which in turn will shape and inform our anti-racism strategy.
Inclusiveness is a key theme of Aberdeen 2040, we are signatories to the Race Equality Charter and we have also just agreed to work further on tackling racism with our campus trade unions, who have asked for more training for staff, are helping support our racial harassment work and are contributing to the portfolio of planned actions.
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has approved the creation of a new Race Equality Strategy Group and we have identified a chair of a soon-to-be launched staff and student race network.
We are grateful to those who have been in touch to share their experiences - including the signatories and supporters of an open letter from the Black Medical Society Aberdeen detailing racist incidents that medical students have experienced in a range of settings. It makes for shocking reading - demonstrating systemic racism and ongoing microaggressions.
The University acted swiftly after receiving the open letter – meeting members of the Black Medical Society and responding to other students in touch with concerns or a wish to share their own experiences.
The matter was raised immediately with health partners; the content of the medical curriculum is being reviewed to make it more inclusive reflecting the diversity of our students and a plurality of perspectives; improvements will be made to emphasise and amplify race equality within equality and diversity training in the School, and an enhanced reporting system for students is also being investigated.
A separate incident involving an image which plays to racist stereotypes that was used on an advert for a degree programme has led to an apology from the University and a commitment to review our approach to using imagery in marketing and other platforms in consultation with AUSA and other stakeholders.
We do not believe these problems are limited to health settings and are likely to be present across the University. Improvements and learning from these issues – and from experiences shared at our listening sessions – will enable us to make changes that will be embedded across our institution.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission Report: Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged provided further evidence that racism exists in universities. We have analysed its findings and its recommendations will be taken forward by our new Race Equality Strategy Group.
The Black Lives Matter movement has brought a new and much-needed focus to the endemic racism which persists in society and is under-reported.
There is much to do to tackle structural racism in our education and research but we will do whatever is necessary to eliminate it.
George and Cecilia
Professor George Boyne Cecilia Wallback Principal and Vice Chancellor AUSA Student President
8 June 2020
Dear Colleagues and Students,
As a University which strives to be open and welcoming, diverse and inclusive, we recognise that the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has prompted sadness, grief, outrage and anxiety in America and across the world. Over the last two weeks we have seen demonstrations across the globe against systemic racism that sadly still exists in our society.
We know that the shock and anger were no less felt across our University community. We wanted to reach out to you all to express the University and AUSA’s solidarity on these events and to offer support.
The University of Aberdeen will not tolerate racist or discriminatory behaviour against any minority group.
We encourage open discussion on race equality, and inclusivity of all minority groups. We urge anyone who has witnessed or experienced racist behaviour to speak out, and your channels for doing so can be found below.
As a society and as a University, we have much more to do to ensure racial equality. There have been times in our history when we as a University have fallen short. We are committed to continuing to support work to tackle racism across the sector, and we wanted to let you know that our University has:
- Embedded Inclusion as a key strategic priority in Aberdeen 2040 and is developing a clear set of Key Performance Indicators in this area
- Signed up to Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education
- Established an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee with representatives from staff and students discussing actions to promote race equality. The Committee has been analysing data in relation to the employment lifecycle of staff of all ethnicities with a view to developing recommendations
- Convened a working group on Tackling Racial Harassment - co-chaired by Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya and Professor Ruth Taylor - to address the recommendations of the report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, entitled Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged
- Begun consultations with staff on establishing a Race Equality Network.
We know there is much to be done still and this includes ensuring our curriculum is fully inclusive and also contributing to tackling the national attainment gap linked to race and ethnicity. Let us absolutely assure you that we will do this with energy, vision and determination.
Our resolve to celebrate diversity and strengthen our approach to inclusion remains fundamental.
We want to hear from our community of staff and students, as we as a University seek to better support staff and students from all backgrounds, to develop our curriculum and reflect on our role as an educator and how we can facilitate change for future generations.
Alternatively, you can also seek support from the AUSA Advice team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or the AUSA Black and Minority Ethnic Students Forum either at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to take action where racism occurs.
George and Cecilia
Professor George Boyne Cecilia Wallback Principal and Vice Chancellor AUSA Student President Share your experiences
If you would like to share your own experiences, you can do so confidentially using this form.
Listening period on race and racism
The University invites you to contribute to its listening period on race and racism. The purpose of this is to learn from the experiences of staff and students, to ensure that all voices are heard and therefore to normalise open conversations on race. Our work on race equality will be informed by the lived experiences of our community. We want to hear about the real issues and the barriers faced by staff and students and ideas about how best to tackle them. The responses on this form will be reviewed by the Equality and Diversity Adviser and confidentiality will be maintained - you don’t have to provide any identification or contact details if you don’t wish to. Thank you for your participation and support in promoting race equality.