Category Archives: Black History Month

Black History Month launch: Is one month enough? 2/10/14


Black History Month launch: Is one month enough?

Thursday 2nd October – 6pm – Nuffield building

In BEMA’s Black History Month 2014 launch event we address the question of whether a month in the year can ever really be enough to cover the diverse Black histories that formed the world today.

Featuring renowned photographer Vanley Burke, who has been documenting Birmingham’s African-Caribbean community for decades through his photography, presenting his work.
Also featuring Mo’Rhymes the Poet performing spoken word.

(With free food too)

Attendance is free and all are welcome – students and members of the community,
and look out for the rest of our Black History Month events:
BEMA Black History Month 2014

BHM launch cover photo

BEMA Black History Month 2014


BEMA Black History Month
October 2014

BEMA launch our Black History Month 2014 series of events to celebrate the contributions of communities of the Global South throughout history, and to highlight the unspoken legacies of resistance of Black & Ethnic Minority people in the UK and worldwide.

All events are free and open to students and the community.
(All events begin at 6pm unless stated otherwise)

BHM launch cover photo III

2nd – BEMA Black History Month launch: Is one month enough?
Nuffield building*

7th – BEMA BHM – Struggles of the Black community film screenings: Mangrove 9 & Injustice
Arts building** Room 201

9th – Radicalism and resistance in Britain, through the ages panel
Arts Lecture Room 6

14th – Film screening: Hip Hop: The New World Order
Arts Room 201

16th – Decolonising the Mind book series launch: Reparations and Resistance
Arts Room 201

20th – Black music and resistance panel
Arts Lecture Room 7

21st – Congo week panel: The Lost Voices
with ADF University of Birmingham African Development Forum
Arts Lecture Room 7

23rd – Congo week workshop
Nuffield G17
(6:30pm start)

24th – West Midlands Pan African Students’ Union meeting
Arts Lecture Room 7

28th – Women of Colour group film screening
Nuffield G13
EDIT: Postponed, new date tbc

29th – The Great Debate
with Birmingham ACS
Nuffield G17

30th – Women of Colour group panel
Arts 201

(Details on venues and speakers will be updated throughout the month)
*R9 on the campus map, near the Guild of Students building
**R16 on the campus map, next to the Main Library


BHM week 4: Intersectionality & Still Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack

This week BEMA will be holding 2 Black History Month events:
Tuesday – Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Disability
Thursday – Still Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack: Race and the British state

1) Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Disability
Tuesday 22nd – 5pm – Guild Council Chambers

In collaboration with the Women’s Association, LGBTQ Association and DAMSA (Disability and Mental Health Students’ Association) we present a series of talks and discussion looking at the way Racism and other oppressions in society interact and overlap.

Topics include the White Beauty myth, misrepresentation of Muslim women in Western media, the forgotten BME participants of the Stonewall riots, the Criminalisation of Mental Illness in BME individuals as well sections on Class and Religion.

2) Still Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack: Race and the British state
Thursday 24th – 6pm – Arts Lecture Room 5

Twenty years after Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the failures that followed in its police investigation, we look at the ways that the British state has(n’t) changed in its treatment of, and response to, BME communities.

With a diverse panel of speakers we’ll look at how the Police, Higher Education, Mental Health and Immigration services all operate to keep BME communities repressed in Britain, and the different forms that institutional racism has taken over the years.

Will also feature a screening of the short film ‘Absent from the Academy’, highlighting the lack of Black academics in Higher Education, and the experiences of those working in it.There will also be free Caribbean food!
See you there,
Intersectionality poster

Next BHM event (15/10) – Black Panthers in Conversation


Tuesday 15th October – 6pm – Arts Lecture Room 5

Black Panthers in Conversation: Mass Imprisonment, Racism and International Solidarity


BEMA’s Black History Month continues with a talk and Q&A from Jonina and Lorenzo Ervin, two veteran community activists and former Black Panther party members from the US.

They will be speaking on the mass incarceration of Black and BME individuals by the racist criminal justice system in North America and abroad, and how to build international solidarity movements in support of the oppressed, drawing from their experiences at Black radical organisers in the USA.

This will be a rare opportunity to hear from two inspiring activists speaking through the struggle, so make sure you’re there and spread the word –
it’s free and open to all.

Black Panthers poster


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BEMA Black History Month continues Friday 11th with film screening+discussion of Black Power Mixtape (with food)


This Friday (11th October) BEMA’s Black History Month series of events continues with a film screening and discussion of the documentary ‘The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975′ (with free food), in collaboration with the NUS Black Students’ Campaign Midlands.

The Black Power Mixtape features previously unreleased archive footage interviewing prominent figures from the US Black Power movement through the 60s and 70s, including Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and Bobby Seale.

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BEMA’s Black History Month begins Thursday 3rd October


BEMA’s Black History Month series of events begins this Thursday the 3rd of October with a launch focusing on Nigeria, which celebrates its independence this week.
Includes poetry, music, speakers, film and stalls with traditional clothes for sale.
For a full listing of our events see below.

All welcome, and all free (excluding the external Hip Hop Shakespeare trip).
So bring your people, and we’ll see you there.

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Hello and welcome, 2013 freshers!


Dear Freshers,

Congratulations on gaining your place at the University of Birmingham and a massive welcome from the Birmingham Ethnic Minorities Association (BEMA).

We are an association that  offer support to all ethnic minority students during your time at uni- not just in education, but socially too. BEMA aim to represent your interests within student politics (eg. within the Guild Council) and in other key decision-making areas. We  We also seek to raise awareness about issues affecting ethnic minority students, often working with relevant student societies and local organisations to do so.

We are entirely student run, and we hold a variety of cultural and political events in and around campus, including an Alternative Freshers Week, Black History Month events, Bollywood movie nights, performance events (such as the hugely successful ‘Love Talent: Hate Racism’ in March 2013) and more.

Visit our Facebook page ( to stay in the loop, and make sure you come along to our Alternative Freshers events (details can be found at to meet like-minded individuals, make new friends, and have some alcohol-free fun! We’re not a society, so you don’t have to pay a thing to become a member, just turn up to our events and get involved- after all, you’re only a fresher once!

NEW FOR 2013/14: As an association that represents ethnic minority students at the University of Birmingham, we’d like to use this blog as a platform for you to get your voice heard. If you’d like to blog on your experiences as a BME student, or on personal/ cultural/ political issues that matter to you, then we’d love to have you on board! No writing experience necessary- look out for the BEMA stall at the Welcome Week Freshers Fair to sign up.

We’ll be posting again very soon with BEMA updates and info about your 2013/14 committee, so keep an eye out…

If you’ve got any questions in the meantime, you can message us on Facebook, tweet us (@BEMA_online) or even drop an email to

We look forward to meeting you soon!

UBCU President ‘fancy dress’ racism situation positively resolved

UBCU President ‘fancy dress’ racism situation positively resolved

To the BME community of the University of Birmingham,

Regarding the recent situation with the (now ex) President of the University of Birmingham Christian Union (UBCU), we would like to inform you that this now been resolved.

After calls from BEMA, the Ethnic Minority Students Officer, the Guild of Students, the National Union of Students, and from members of the public, the President of UBCU tendered his resignation on Wednesday night (October 10th).

A written public apology from the ex-President is due to be published in the next issue of the Redbrick Newspaper this Friday (October 12th).

After going through what we deem fair and lenient procedures, BEMA is pleased that a positive outcome has been reached.

We believe that racism in society should never be tolerated and that full responsibility should be taken when acts of ignorance are committed.

We would also like to thank all of the students that came to our open discussion on Monday evening (October 8th) to share their views on the issue and support for our stance.

Our official statement is also due to be posted in Redbrick and reads as follows:

‘We accept Ben’s apology, as we see he has taken responsibility for his actions and is willing to educate himself on liberation issues and white privilege. We have always said publicly, that Ben’s act does not make him a racist, as we understand he was ignorant towards the “Blacking up” issue. We are satisfied that we can move forward from this with a better informed student population, and that zero-tolerance will be taken more seriously at our university. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ben for his apology.’

Also, a quick reminder that our next event for Black History Month 2012 will be on Tuesday, October 16th.  It is a screening of the film ‘Life and Debt’ and there will also be a talk by renowned scholar Cecil Gutzmore.  It shall be held in Arts Lecture Room 7 from 6pm-9pm.  The event is free and will be catered by local Caribbean restaurant Connie’s Cultural Cuisine, so we can plan numbers, please RSVP to .

Hope you are all well,

Many thanks,

BEMA Committee

Guild Council Nominations Deadline & #bemaBHM12 Events List


The deadline for Guild Councillor nominations is this Friday (5th) at 10am, and it would be amazing to see more ethnic minorities standing this year.

Guild Council is the students union’s decision making body, in which representatives of students take votes on motions that affect Guild policy, from anything to do with what events are on at the Guild, to what campaigns the Guild should be supporting. Currently there is a serious lack of ethnic diversity in Guild Council with there being only a handful of us as Guild Councillors despite us making up 28% of the student population. As a result, our voice is ever smaller when it comes to the Guild decision making process.

Obviously, the Guild is a small organisation in terms of the ‘real’ world, but motions do come up that we really could use a stronger voice in. For example, at the end of last year, there was opposition to the Guild supporting the anti-racist, anti-fascist group ‘Unite Against Fascism’, and although the vote passed in favour of support, it was a narrow victory. There are occasions like this in which we should really have a louder voice.

You can stand as a Guild Councillor representing your department, or you can stand as an Open Place Councillor of which there are reserved positions for women and international students. There are only 6 Guild Council meetings over the year, so the commitment is small in terms of time spent on it during term-time.  Also, if you are in the Medical and Dental School, there is one position each for Dental Surgery, Medicine and Surgery, Biomedical Science and Dental Hygiene and Therapy, Medical Science and Nursing and Physiotherapy.

You can get a form from Student Voice in the Guild and will need to write 200 words supporting your nomination. It would be great to see more ethnic minorities standing, and hopefully winning seats in Guild Council, so I would strongly encourage it.

If you want more info, you can message me, or ask our BEMA Guild Councillor, Azfar Shafi (who knows more of the ins and outs of it than I do) for more info!

Also, after an amazing Opening Event for Black History Month on Monday, the full list of events can be seen here.  We have some great, diverse events lined up, so it’s definitely worth coming down to as many as you can!


Areeq Chowdhury

BEMA President

Black History Month 2012 – Opening Event


After our quite successful Alternative Freshers’ Week last week, we are moving straight onto our plans for Black History Month 2012!  Our opening event is this Monday coming (October 1st), but would like to say a quick word on our Freshers’ Week first though.

Our Alternative Freshers’ Week was a new event for BEMA and we decided to organise this as we felt there was a lack of enough diverse events run by the Guild to cater for the demand of all students, although the Guild is certainly improving on this front offering new events such as the upcoming Ceilidh.  All in all, it was successful, the turnouts for events exceeded our expectations and it was great to see students having fun and bonding with each other!  The Games Night, Bowling, and Shisha Night all had good turnouts to good effect, and the week was concluded with a nice, social meal.  It is definitely something that we would like future BEMA committees to run again in the future, and possibly something worth looking at for the beginning of the Spring Term.

There are lots of photos on our Facebook page, with more to come in the near future!  There are also a few of our Societies Fair stalls on there too!

Back to Black History Month 2012.  Our first event will be held in Guild Council Chambers on Monday, October 1st from 6pm – 10pm.  There will be a screening of the film ‘Injustice’, a hip-hop DJ set, guest speakers, and free food!  The event is open to all, so bring your friends along too!  We have a lot of events planned for the rest of the month with at least one event per week.  Full details will be posted up soon.  We’re all looking forward to seeing you all soon!

Also, if you were unable to attend our Welcome Meeting on Thursday you can view our presentation here.

Areeq Chowdhury

BEMA President