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How woke is your education?

The latest GGM UK podcast welcomes 3 incredible guests, who are trailblazers for women of colour in academia; Dr Neema Begum, Dr Rima Saini, and Siobhan O’Neill.

In light of the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement re-gained the momentum and the support it needed to become a global movement. In the UK, as the protests in solidarity reached the furthest corner, Britain was also forced to reckon with its violent, racist past. We saw the pulling down of Edward Colston’s statue, the vandalism of Churchill’s, and the peaceful yet impactful testaments of Black British people.

These notable, radical moments delved deeper into an issue which is ingrained into our everyday lives: Our education on Black British history. Or the lack thereof. The ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ campaign was originally student-led, but has become increasingly recognised by students, academics and political figures alike. Until now, some of us may not have questioned the single perspective we have been taught in for our entire lives. But as Colston’s statue toppled into Bristol’s river Avon, many asked why him? Many other slave traders continued to be displayed in public glorification of the British Empire.

The lack of education around these notable figures, and their immoral role in the creation of our country, has radicalised many. Most of us have not delved deep into the role of Britain in the slave trade, and their colonial history, but only scratched the surface. Increasing demand to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum speaks to the need for further education which is inclusive to and representative of a black and minority ethnic population.

Our speakers are highly educated women of colour, who have encountered various perspectives of racism in education throughout their entire lives. They speak of their personal experiences as well as their motivations to take this into their stride. By continuing the conversation and making academic impactful, they are paving the way for a more inclusive education system.

Introducing our speakers

Siobhan O’Neill is a PhD Researcher in the Department of Politics at The University of Manchester. Her current research project explores the dynamics of race, racism and Whiteness in Politics disciplines and curricula in British Higher Education. Specifically, the project explores how racially minoritised students experience and navigate the whiteness of Politics disciplines. Siobhan’s wider research interests include racial politics, race and racism, knowledge production, (de)coloniality, mixed-race identity.

Dr Neema Begum is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Manchester Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). Her research is on the voting behaviour, political attitudes and representation of British Black and Asian people. Neema has also co-written with Dr Rima Saini about the experiences of women of colour in higher education.

Dr Rima Saini is a Lecturer in Sociology at Middlesex University London. Her research focuses on the socio-political identities and lived experiences of the British South Asian middle classes. She is a co-lead on decolonisation in the School of Law at Middlesex University London and has published critical commentary in Political Studies Review, LSE's Impact Blog and Political Quarterly on the topic of decolonisation in higher education.


We bring all speakers together for a stimulating conversation about race, education and being a woman. Listen to our discussion here.

AUTHOR: Dila Yalman

Dila is an Intern at GGM UK. She is an aspiring journalist and currently studies Economics at the University of Edinburgh.

Dila writes and edits for her university's Economics Magazine, as well as for a start-up fashion magazine. She also regularly writes pieces ranging from academic critiques to political reports for her blog. Most of her writing reflects what she has personally encountered and tells the story of real people.

Dila is seeking to assert her journalistic voice while providing a voice for those who do not have one and this is what she aims to gain from her experience at GGM UK.

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