Student says we should all talk about racism, as university launches new exhibition

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Penny Silvester

Students at the University of Reading have been opening up about their own experiences with racism in the hope of inspiring change.

They have made their voices heard with poems, essays and reflections on racism within university life as part of a new exhibition.It comes after the university ordered a review into racial inequalities following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The exhibition runs until 24th February 2022. Credit: ITV News Meridian

One of the poems featured is by English Literature and Film student Dominique Vincent. She believes the exhibition shows that people are talking about racism and are creating different ways of starting the conversation.

She said: "It's just tiredness or not seeing myself represented.

"Knowing that so many people have fought and argued for this but still changes haven't been made.

"If I can just contribute a little bit then it is something that makes a difference."

Rahasia Ferrer was also motivated to write a poem for the exhibition to encourage others to not 'tread lightly' around the topic.

She said: "A lot of people are scared of being called a racist, but a lot of their actions stem from racism, and it is important that we talk about it.

"People are suffering from racism, being shot and killed, and this is the harsh reality."

The exhibition features poems by University of Reading students. Credit: ITV News Meridian

She added: "Even though we're fearful of being called racist, we have to think about the experiences for other people and how they are suffering."

Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, says she herself knows how some students and staff may be feeling, and that the time has come to have more open conversations about race.

She said: "We heard from people who work at the university or study at the university, that the issue of race had been quietly ignored.

"I've felt it myself. I'm the first person of colour on the University's executive board. I have gone through my whole career here without seeing any role models or people like myself in senior positions.

"So I can completely understand that feeling."

The project was jointly led by Anne-Marie Henderson, Director of Student Success and Engagement, and Dr Eileen Hyder, an Academic Developer within the University's Centre for Quality, Support and Development.

Ms Henderson said: "This collection was put together to encourage real action towards racial justice. Whatever our race, our role, we all have a responsibility to read, reflect and act on the work in this collection and ensure the University of Reading is truly inclusive, and that all of us can achieve our full potential, regardless of race, ethnicity or background.

The exhibition at the university's library runs until Thursday 24 February.