What I want white students to understand, as a 'BAME' student

Tiyanna Mistry on the importance of white students showing up and lending their support

Tiyanna Mistry
24th November 2020
Image: Wikimedia Commons
BAME is a term used to describe Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, but it was not a term chosen by those that it applies to.

The abbreviation is frustrating, to say the least. We are Black, we are Asian, and we are distinct. We are not just ‘other’, so why lump us all together and separate us as such? As individuals who are from ethnically diverse cultures, we may share a common cause, but that does not mean we have the same experiences.

As a South Asian student, I want people to know that I am South Asian and respect that I come from a vibrant heritage of which I am proud. I want you to know more about me and my culture. However, please refrain from making assumptions, or force-feeding me stereotypes that you have heard about my race.

On behalf of all students from ethnically diverse backgrounds, we want our voice to be heard! We want to feel seen, but it’s hard to do that when we aren’t recognised or represented in the curriculum or wider education system. That’s why it's crucial for our fellow students on campus who are white to continue to show up and help us eradicate stereotypes. That's why it's crucial they advocate for diversity in the education system.

Allyship with ethnically diverse students can feel performative

At times, it can often feel like our white peers don’t appreciate the importance of allyship with their fellow students who are ethnically diverse. As nice it is to see some fellow students advocating for equality, at times it can feel short-lived. It feels like performative allyship. We need you to know that the fight for equality and a diverse education system is not over, and it’s not an isolated event.

We need you to speak up in the face of injustice

Our white peers and students must recognise that change is not just up to ethnic minorities. We need your help and advocacy so that we can remove the racial predispositions that are deeply embedded into the structure of our education system. We need you to speak up in the face of injustice alongside us.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

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