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Equality and diversity

How to be an anti-racist

Working towards our goal of becoming an anti-racist university

Person in blue jacket outside holding up a sign saying 'End Racism'.

At York St John there is no place for racism. We are working to raise the importance and profile of race equality and to tackle racial inequalities.

To actively challenge racism and prejudice, we want to be anti-racist in our approach.

This page is for anyone to read, and for white people to learn. We encourage you to use your privilege and platform to stand up for change and to support Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, students and friends.

The resources on this page are to inform, help and advocate anti-racism actions.

What York St John University is doing to eradicate racism

Our approach

We joined the Race Equality Charter (REC) in August 2020. This Charter gives universities a framework to remove institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and students.

We started an important movement towards achieving equality by gaining a Race Equality Charter bronze award in November 2022. This work is not about achieving the Charter in a tick box way - it is about us working together as a university community and taking active steps to make real change. This Charter gives universities a framework to remove institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and students.

In preparation for the Race Equality Charter award submission, we established a self-assessment team (SAT) which includes both students and staff who are actively examining data and evidence about our diversity, the degree awards and graduate outcomes of students and the progression and retention of staff.

You can read more on our Towards Race Equality page.

Towards Race Equality

Our initiatives

Route to report racism

We take incidences of racism extremely seriously. All staff, students and visitors can report an incident through our All About Respect portal. This can be done anonymously, or with contact details.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic Scholarship

We want our students to be supported throughout their university journey. Monetary awards and a package of support is available for students who identify as being in the BAME population. Find out more on the Funding opportunities page.

Dedicated support for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students

Our Black Asian and minority ethnic students are represented and can talk to a dedicated BAME contact. Working with our Students' Union, it is important we make sure the voices of the students are heard. See our Supporting our diverse community page.

Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter Movement was set up in July 2016 following the racist police killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in the US. 

The killing of George Floyd in 2020 triggered global outrage about police brutality and racism. Read our initial statement in response to this and our statement remembering the anniversary of his death.

On the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, the York St John community was invited to reflect on how the death of George Floyd affected them by posting anonymous reflections on our Padlet board and recording the videos below. 

Anti-racist and decolonial community of practice

The anti-racist and decolonial community of practice aims to support staff and students to openly discuss curriculum, pedagogies and research. This provides a platform for discourse, exploration, sharing good practice and inspiration. Anyone at York St John University with an active interest in helping to create a fairer society for all, is warmly invited to join the team. 

What you can do

One of the main ways to start anti-racism actions is to educate yourself.

Understand important terms

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME): Where possible the phrase BAME should never replace the immense diversity and distinct ethnic identities of each individual. BAME stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and is a term used frequently in Britain as an umbrella term for non-white ethnic minority communities. Other countries may also use POC which stands for People of Colour or BIPOC, which stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. Ethnic minority communities in the UK can also include some international students who, along with British ethnic minorities, are part of the 'global majority'.

White privilege: A term for societal privileges that benefit people identified as white beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. Dr Robin DiAngelo (2018) [YouTube] Deconstructing White Privilege. [20m1s]

Microaggression: The brief, everyday interactions that send denigrating messages to [people of colour] because they belong to a racially minoritised group. Compared to more overt forms of racism, racial micro-aggressions are subtle and insidious, often leaving the victim confused, distressed and frustrated and the perpetrator oblivious of the offense they have caused. Nicola Rollock (2012) The invisibility of race: intersectional reflections on the liminal space of alterity, Race Ethnicity and Education, 15:1, 65-84

Explore resources

Explore the many resources on anti-racism at the bottom of this page, including reading lists and videos.

Take action when you witness racism

Knowing how best to intervene, and how to do so safely, is an important skill.

The 4 Ds of bystander intervention are a good place to start:

  • Direct action - directly intervening. For example, asking the perpetrator to stop, calling out a microaggression and challenging micro-inequities.
  • Distraction - indirectly intervening. For example, deescalating by interrupting.
  • Delegation - for example, refer to a line manager, senior manager, HR, inclusion lead and so on.
  • Delay - if you cannot intervene in the moment (maybe you feel it will make it worse, or direct more attention to the Black colleague who is on the receiving end of the behaviour) wait and find a time to check in with them or speak to the perpetrator at a later time.

You can also explore this practical guide for calling out racism when you hear it: What did you just say?

The role of universities

What is institutional racism?

The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination. Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 6.34 (February 1999)

In 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that higher education institutions are failing to support BAME students and staff who experience racial harassment and vastly underestimate the scale of racial abuse on campus.

EHRC (2019) [News] Universities oblivious to scale of racial abuse on campus. 23 October. With links to information and publications from their enquiry 'Tackling Racial Harassment. Universities Challenged'.


Reflections on the impact of George Floyd’s death

One year on, members of the York St John University community share their thoughts with Chaplain Jane Speck.

Anti-racism resources

Many of the articles and books listed are available through our Library.

Anti racism resources. A resource for white people to deepen understanding of anti-racism and how to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement. Christine, June 2020 [LondONTheInside]. Lists books, TV and film, podcasts and social media, organisations and signposts to other resources.

Anti-racist books for children and teenagers. Aimee Felone (2020) The Guardian, 4 June.

Do the work: an anti-racist reading list. Layla F Saad (2020) The Guardian, 3 June.

Guide to Allyship

Black Voices: Reflecting on Racism. A collection of brief reflections by Black people. EqualiTech (2020), 4 June.

Want to own your own copy not borrow one? Consider buying a book from a black-owned bookshop. Just like many independent bookshops, they are under existential threat of COVID-19.

The Stylist has listed UK black-owned independent bookshops to order from online. (updated November 2020)

A selection of accounts of individual and institutional racism in higher education, and what universities should do.

#BlackintheIvory: stories on X (formerly known as Twitter) of institutional racism from academics and students around the world.

Black Female Professors Forum: to generate positive narratives to underpin successful pathways and trajectories for Black women in education.

Dave Thomas and Professor Marcia Williams (2020) [AdvanceHE] From inertia to contagion towards immunity: keeping 'race' on the UK university agenda post-COVID-19. 15 May. Why it is important that Universities keep race equality on the agenda and what they need to do.

Tahmina Choudhery (2020) [WonkHE] We can't separate the issues of race and reopening in universities. 3 June. A reflection on the social media conversations about race and racism across higher education following the murder of George Floyd, setting out things the universities need to stop doing and actions they need to take.

Winston Morgan (2020) [The Guardian] If universities struggle financially, BAME academics will lose their jobs first. 10 June. An article about the key role BAME academics play in tackling racial inequalities.

Open letter to address racial justice in higher education. From Black, Asian and minority ethnic academics, students, professional support staff (and allies).

Visit the official Black Lives Matter website. Or UK based websites: and

The @ukblm is a separate activist coalition, not affiliated to the Black Lives Matter Movement UK websites listed above.

X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram: @ukblm

WonkHE Blog: White people must commit to antiracist action for the long term. A write up of WonkHE's BlackLivesMatterHE event on 8 July 2020, with link to the full event recording and listing useful resources. By Debbie McVitty.

Binna Kandola (2019) [Blogpost] The modern form of racism: micro-incivilities. AdvanceHE. 5 April.

Keele University (2019) [YouTube] An Everyday dimension of racism: why we need to understand microaggressions. 9 May [6m35s]

Same Difference (2016) [YouTube] How microaggressions are like mosquito bites. 5 October [1m57s]

Union Black: Britain's Black cultures and steps to anti-racism - Santander Universities/ Open University

Free for all HE staff and students.

This short course has been designed for HE students studying at institutions across the UK to increase understanding of Black British history, race, and racism, and how individuals can make a positive difference.

Also available is an optional one hour introduction session, designed to introduce you to some of the concepts and learning experiences in the full 8 hour course.