‘We can’t be not racist, we have to be anti-racist’ - New podcast exploring racism hopes to inspire positive change

A podcast series has been launched by academics at Leeds Beckett University to explore uncomfortable truths around race and experiences of racism. Laura Reid reports

Dr Daniel Kilvington is one of those behind the new podcast. Photo: Leeds Beckett University

The story of how an assistant headteacher covered herself with talcum powder before sleeping at night in the hope she would ‘wake up white’ is among personal experiences of racism to be shared in a new podcast series exploring uncomfortable truths around race.

Academics at Leeds Beckett University have launched the podcast - Talking Race - in the hope of educating listeners about how racism operates across a range of areas including education, sport, and the internet.

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The series is the brainchild of Dr Daniel Kilvington and Professor Vini Lander, who hope to inspire positive change with honest and informed discussions.

Professor Vini Lander is one of the academics who has launched the podcast Talking Race. Photo: Leeds Beckett University

“The podcasts have been designed to educate and inform people about racism and the lived experiences of racism in their everyday lives,” explains Professor Lander, director of the Centre for Race Education and Decoloniality in the university’s Carnegie School of Education.

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“For example, in the race and education podcast, local assistant headteacher Kauser Jan shares the story of how she was marginalised at school and how she covered herself with talcum powder and went to sleep at night in the hope that she would wake up white the next morning.

“Daniel Kebede, vice president of the National Education Union speaks about his experiences of racism at school in the year 2000 when a teacher said to him, ‘we’re not in the jungle now’.

“Through these personal and professional stories about racism we hope to illuminate its detrimental effect on individuals of colour.

“In the podcast on race and education we show how systemic racism maintains a predominantly white teaching workforce, how there are very few teachers of colour who are senior leaders in schools and how black children are three times more likely to be excluded.”

The first podcast features a discussion around Christopher Columbus, grassroots movements and the limitations of labels such as BAME.

In later episodes, Permi Jhooti, a pioneer of women’s football, and retired footballer Anwar Uddin will also talk about their lived experiences of racism. Several other speakers will join the discussion including Rachel Boyle, an academic specialising in race and ethnicity, who has faced racist and sexist abuse online.

One of the episodes will focus on social media and how this tool can be used to highlight racial injustice but can also provide a platform for racist and fascist people to post hate-speech.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has forced people to take note, stand up and listen to the global problems caused by ‘race’,” says Dr Kilvington, course director in the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities.

“Vini and I, with the aid of our interviewees and guest presenters, want to add to this important conversation.

“We can’t be not racist any longer, we have to be anti-racist. We have to acknowledge these issues and fully understand how racism systemically operates.

“By including experts, activists and those with lived experiences of racism, we are hoping to inspire and educate listeners who are able to make positive changes in the challenge against racism.

“At Leeds Beckett University, our curriculum enables students to examine oppression, decoloniality, and injustice and learn how the past informs and shapes the present.

“This new podcast series is not only a vital resource for students learning about ‘race’, ethnicity and racism at University, but it’s also useful for a wider audience.”

The podcasts are being released via Sound Cloud, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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