By Jess Warren
As part of Black History Month this October, a campaign from Cardiff University which aims to provide a platform for the voices of black and minority ethnic (BME) students has reached the Welsh Assembly.
The #ITooAmCardiff campaign features an exhibition with 13 giant images of students alongside their own words. One exhibition image holds the words: “I am beautiful. I am African. Yes I am also British. No I do not live in mud huts. No I do not dance with lions.”
The campaign in previous years has featured phrases such as: “Don’t call me exotic, I’m not your fetish.” As well as “You are not blacker than me because I don’t fit your stereotype of a black person.”
The campaign has been modeled off a similar social media campaign that received great success at Harvard University, and aims to create a positive narrative around race and ethnicity. The aim is to provide a voice, raise awareness among staff and students, and prompt an online discussion around the types of issues faced by black and minority ethnic students. The campaign is also available in Welsh.
The exhibition is available for viewing at the Welsh Assembly’s Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay from October, 26 to November, 29.
Sponsored by Vaughan Gething AM, Mr Gething said in a statement to Cardiff University: “I am proud to be sponsoring the #ITooAmCardiff exhibition as part of Black History Month. The exhibition showcases the equality, diversity and inclusion of students at Cardiff University.
“In following the journey of BME students the exhibition gives a powerful voice to and helps to raise awareness of some of the issues faced by BME students on campus.
“I wish the exhibition every success as it continues on its journey.”
The exhibition has previously been on display in the University and the Students’ Union, but hasn’t been showcased anywhere else until now. By taking the campaign outside of the University, it is hoped that a wider audience will be reached, and the words of the students will have a greater impact on the community within Cardiff.
Susan Cousins, Cardiff University’s Equality and Diversity Project Officer was the creative fuel behind the exhibition; her idea being the use of direct quotes from the students alongside their image in order for BME students to raise awareness of their student journey.
Susan said in a statement to Cardiff University: “People love the exhibition because it’s such a powerful representation of differing perspectives. BME students and staff within the University have reacted positively, welcoming its thought-provoking messages.
“We had quite a few BME young people who were not Cardiff University students who came along when it was on display at the University. They thought it was amazing and that Cardiff had done something unusual in reaching and giving voice to BME students.
“I want the exhibition to be seen in as many places as possible and would like people to contact me if they would like to host it.”
On November, 9 there is an event at the exhibition which will see the presence of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen Holford, Vaughan Gething AM, Joyce Watson AM, the National Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for equalities issues, and Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales.