The tragic death of George Floyd in the United States on 25 May has sent shockwaves across the globe, leading the world to look at its systems of power and imperial legacies in a new light. These conversations have touched every layer of our society, every corner of our country, including Exeter.
On 10 June, a peaceful vigil for George took place, as well as a protest in solidarity. Following the removal of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol, we looked to Exeter’s colonial legacies such as the Redvers Buller statue and asked whether it was time to stop memorialising a man rumoured to have played a role in the introduction of concentration camps in the Boer War. It became public last week that on 20 May, a black man called Simeon Francis died in police custody in Devon; an investigation is now taking place into the circumstances. The South West has not been exempt from the Black Lives Matter conversation.
Exeposé stands in support of the Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism movements protesting across the world. Yet we are aware it is not enough to merely express our support. We have regularly reported on the frequent incidents of racism and bigotry within the university, but we also recognise a need to confront our own whiteness as a university newspaper.
In the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020, the University of Exeter was ranked the fourth least inclusive in the country with a black attainment gap of -19.7 per cent. These statistics indicate systemic issues of inclusivity within the very institution we study.
Furthermore, in 2016, City University London conducted a survey of 700 news professionals revealing that the British Journalism industry is 94% white, 86% university-educated and 55% male. These statistics are an indictment of the very industry that is supposed to tell society’s stories and hold those in power accountable for their actions. How can journalism inform the people if it does not represent the people?
Many people join Exeposé because they are interested in a career in journalism, or because they are looking to be heard. We want to make sure that the opportunity to be heard is extended to all members of our student body, especially those who have typically been marginalised and silenced by society.
We asked ourselves: “how can we use our platform to actively support anti-racism and encourage important, productive conversations about race?” Through asking this, we decided that the best way to confront these important conversations was to make space for them in the first place. We are delighted to introduce to you our new section: Amplify.
We have worked with African Caribbean Society, Feminist Society, LGBTQ+ Society, and the Queer and BAME Society to create an intersectional platform of journalism to focus on anti-racism. This is an opportunity to uplift the narratives and experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) students of Exeter, while also highlighting the important role of white students in these conversations.
We aim for Amplify to be a collaborative hub. Having already reached out to African Caribbean Society, Feminist Society, LGBTQ+ Society and the Queer and BAME Society, we aim to expand our writers’ community by reaching out to other international and BIPOC societies.
Yet it remains vital that Amplify is not exclusively designated to BIPOC students. We are aware white people need to be engaged in conversations of race so that whiteness is acknowledged as a race, and so minority ethnicities are not peripheralised. We understand the privilege of white voices and want to share some of the labour of writing about race so it isn’t seen exclusively as a duty of BIPOC to educate others on the topic of race.
This is also not an excuse to tokenise BIPOC voices and box them into one section. Our other sections will make a continuous effort to make their content intersectional and inclusive, as well as regularly interacting with Amplify.
Usually, Exeposé works on a membership basis which gives you access to having your own WordPress account crediting you as an author. However, as a committee, we will not provide a platform for BIPOC voices and issues that can only be used if people pay. Therefore, we will upload articles and pieces under a new email, email@example.com. Authors will then be credited in subtitles and at the end of works as normal. Acknowledging our own reputation as often feeling exclusive, we hope that in collaborating with other societies, Exeposé’s authorship will become inclusive and representative of more narratives and perspectives, as will our future editorial teams.
Amplify will debut Online as of the 18th June, and will also make its way into Print in the new academic year. We are really excited about this new addition to the newspaper, and we hope that this becomes intrinsic to who we are as a publication for years to come. This is our pledge to do better and use our privilege for good.
Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/
Black Lives Matter Card with donation links, petition links, mental health resources, educational resources, FAQ’s: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
Colour of Change: https://colorofchange.org/
The Black Curriculum: https://www.theblackcurriculum.com/