A Reaction to "A Letter to My Academic Community" Peace Walk for Justice in Haw River (June 2020), image from Wikimedia Commons under CC licence

A Reaction to "A Letter to My Academic Community"

Former Diversity Officer and member of LUCAS Isabel Hoving shares her thoughts on Bareez Majid's blogpost, continuing the Black Lives Matter dialogue within our institute.

I read Bareez Majid’s excellent, courageous blogpost with growing admiration, and with the growing urge to jump out of my chair to act. For me, her timely blog is an urgent, open invitation. We, at LUCAS, are all dedicated to researching the arts in society. Many of us are teaching and researching issues that relate to cultural diversity, ethnicity and “race.” In spite of that, it still appears very hard to address the lack of diversity and the everyday racism in our very own workplace (university, faculty and institute), in any effective way — as Bareez shows us.

Bareez has the courage to start the discussion. She offers us a crystal clear account of what micro-aggressions and everyday institutional racism actually look like. How they actually feel. I found it especially very painful indeed to read her description of the catch-22 in which many black scholars and scholars of colour find themselves. She is right, unfortunately: her experiences are far from unique. But the very fact that Bareez’ blog is so eminently clear shows us how we can start tackling this harmful dynamics. Let’s just begin by sharing experiences. Let’s start scrutinizing the ways in which we interact and communicate. That would be a great start, and very doable: critical self-reflection is what we do.

I hope that we can accept this invitation, also for the sake of our students. For I am sure that many of your students, too, talked to you about Black Lives Matter, and perhaps even about possible changes in the curriculum. In the spirit of the times, then, I would like to propose that those of us who are committed to these issues come together for an online meeting, soon, to discuss the way forward.

We could ask LUDEN, the Leiden University Diversity and Equality Network, for advice. The Diversity Office can give us directions too, would we want so; the Vice-Rector has just stated that the university as a whole needs to act against exclusion and all forms of racism. We can start modestly, just by meeting. Let’s begin!

Isabel Hoving

Associate professor FLW

The editorial board of the Leiden Arts in Society Blog, the LUCAS PhD Council, as well as the LUCAS Management Team, support and want to facilitate a dialogue on racism within our academic community. We invite all our members to share their stories and reflections about this topic, either on this platform or during a round-table conversation to be organized on the initiative of the LUCAS Institute Council in the coming weeks.

Please send your contribution to this dialogue to the following email address: leidenartsinsocietyblog@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

© Isabel Hoving and Leiden Arts in Society Blog, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Isabel Hoving and Leiden Arts in Society Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.