NATIONAL Union of Students Black Students’ Officer Aadam Siciid Muuse today issued a statement on Facebook discussing his involvement in the BME Walkout at the NUS Executive Council meeting:
The NUS has long functioned off of the labour of Black students – yet this has often remained invisible.
Whether the physical labour of Black students, who have driven key campaigns yet remained undervalued and undermined as volunteers; or their emotional labour, when we’re expected to support and sustain fellow Black students as they get involved and engage with structures that are persistently hostile to them.
It is only very recently that our presence and impact have become more visible, following increased representation in bodies such as the NEC – and these have been met with calls that the NUS is now ‘out of touch’, ‘unrepresentative’ or “lost”.
It’s in the context of this, and of course the soon-to-be-released Institutional Racism Review, that we walked out today.
There will of course be those who will try to minimise what we did. Claim that it was useless, and that we are wasting time and resources by doing what we have. To them, and others who may doubt the necessity of the walkout, I say this:
We did not take part in direct action out of want for some feeling of joy or self-gratification; we do so with sorrow but in full understanding that we have indeed been left with no alternative. We do this to make clear beyond a speck of doubt that it is our wish – in fact our demand – that the recommendations of the Institutional Racism Review are taken with utmost seriousness, and that Black and racialised staff, students and officers in our movement are afforded the dignity they deserve.
The review and any recommendations that stem from it will only provide us with the institutional language to articulate what has consistently been felt by Black students involved with NUS, or coming into contact with it.
From being treated within the NEC as either prized tokens or fifth columns, the cooption of liberation for factional gain, to the rampant double standards facing elected officers and the perverse situation where those most affected by racism have seemingly come to burden the responsibility for it – racism in NUS plays out in a multitude of ways that we hope the Institutional Racism Review will vindicate our stance, but do not need in order to validate our experiences.
It’s important to note, this is a problem that goes beyond any one individual on the NEC to a set of processes, assumptions and a culture that has become embedded within NUS, that we all have a collective responsibility to address. My hope is that as a movement we take this issue very seriously, so that we can begin to dismantle some of this as the first steps of a much wider process of decolonisation.
Lastly, we value the work that has been put into the organisation of this meeting and we acknowledge the time and resources committed to this meeting and respect the accountability structures in place.
This is why we asked our allies to remain and carry on with the NEC meeting as planned, but today – for once – it will have to be without us and our efforts, which are so often simply taken for granted.
With rage and solidarity,
Aadam Muuse – NUS Black Students’ Officer