On Monday 13 March, 200 students, staff and guests attended a special event to discuss race and ethnicity in health, social care and higher education. Following a screening of the award winning film ‘Dear White People’, the audience took part in a panel discussion with the poet and University of Manchester Chancellor Lemn Sissay, Brunel's Professor Benjamin Zephaniah and Professor Mariann Rand-Weaver. Chairing the discussion was Brunel's social work lecturer Dr. Yohai Hakak.
‘Dear White People’ takes a satirical look at the experiences of a group of students from different ethnic backgrounds at a majority white Ivy League university in the US. The panel highlighted the similarities between the racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination experienced by American students in the film and British university students.
Professor Zephaniah highlighted the personal relationships created between students from different backgrounds which are highlighted in the film as one of the best ways of overcoming such prejudice. Professor Rand-Weaver talked about the research evidence relating to the BME Attainment Gap and the efforts Brunel University is making to understand how to create a more inclusive educational environment that will allow all students to succeed. Finally, Lemn Sissay reminded us all that as a research institution we are best placed to study the causes of the attainment gap as well as develop solutions for it.