Warning: Contents contain references to racism and may have a triggering effect for some individuals
Racism can happen anywhere; at work, at home, at University, online or in the physical world. Racism is still a very real and damaging facet of modern day society and can have a long term and lasting impact on anyone who has experienced it either directly or indirectly. This includes the mental and emotional strain created by microaggressions. Here at Kent we want to support all students who have been affected or continue to be affected by racism and work together to create a culture where racism is not just challenged, but eradicated completely.
Have you been affected by racism? Young minds have some great resources and signpost organisations and helpline services to support you:
Advice on racism and mental health #BHMKent2021
Speak to someone you can trust. It might be difficult to talk about how you are feeling or to revisit personal experiences of racism. Take your time and only share what you are comfortable sharing. Student Support and Wellbeing have a free confidential counselling service for all students at Kent.
Learn your rights and how to report abuse. This can help empower you and remind you that what you are experiencing is not okay and no one should express that it is. Use our online reporting tool ‘Report and Support’ to be part of a culture shift and get the support you need. Allies should acquaint themselves with the support tools available as well so that they can be advocates for their friends and classmates.
Find supportive groups and communities who understand what you are going through. It can be very hard to explain how you feel to a person that has not experienced racism, whether directly or indirectly. Communities can be a way to find like-minded people with similar experiences and shared interests that you can talk to, have a safe space to be heard and remember that you are not alone. One of the online platforms you have free access to as a Kent student is Togetherall.
Join a movement to create change. There are many anti-racist movements and organisations who are fighting for change in society. Being part of a larger movement can help you feel empowered, valued and give you a sense of hope that change is possible. Make sure to take time out to rest and look after yourself if you are regularly involved in activism. Kent Union supports a number of student networks. These are student-led spaces where students who share an interest of identity can discuss issues relating to their group and help build a community.
Remember it is not your responsibility to fix racism. Do not put pressure on yourself – this is a problem you cannot solve on your own. The people around you all have a responsibility to make changes to their behaviour and to uphold the rights of Black and racially minoritised individuals.
Enough is Enough! Clean your social media feed. What we see online can have a negative impact on our mental health, but remember you can have control over what you see on your social media. Try unfollowing or blocking accounts and muting words that upset you. All social media channels have ways you can report abusive behaviour. At Kent we expect certain standards of behaviour both online and in the ‘real’ world. If you are concerned about anything you see you can report it to us in a safe and confidential manner using our online Report and Support tool.
The University of Kent and Kent Union are working together to celebrate Black History Month 2021 #BHMKent2021. Take a look at the Kent Union BHM website for events and resources at Kent. This includes a free mental health support workshop by Diverse Cymru, an organisation that specialises in Black mental health. Please check the website for further information and to register your attendance.