Category Archives: EDI

FACE x Horniman Exhibition

As part of #Black365, March 2024 sees the launch of FACE X HORNIMAN – Hair: Untold Stories exhibition. FACE (Fashion Academics Creating Equality) and the Horniman Museum. This exhibition is set in a physical space for the first time, and explores and celebrates the influence, importance and personal narratives attached to the significance of hair seen against Eurocentric beauty standards from Black, Brown and Asian perspectives within the UK.

The exhibition has been curated by Fashion designer and Senior Lecturer Davina Hawthorne (De Montfort University) and Photographer and Associate Professor Max Kandhola (Nottingham Trent University), both council members of FACE and Co-Founder of FACE, Sharon Lloyd. Contributing editors: Dr Sarah Bryne, Professor Emma Tarlo, Rose Sinclair (MBE), Andrew Ibi, Jacob Goff, Benita Odogwu-Atkinson and Michelle Marshall.

The exhibition will seek to take visitors on a journey of discovery of the importance of hair from within the academic and student educational space. Both students and academics explore the complex relationship between hair and identity, revealing the importance of generational traditions in different communities and the power of creative invention.

The exhibition will launch on Wednesday 27 March, 5pm in Keynes College and remain open and free to view for all staff, students, and members of the community in Keynes Atrium and Teaching Gallery spaces until July 2024.

If you would like to attend the Private View please contact Becky Lamyman on by 25 March 2024.

#Black365 is a yearlong campaign to celebrate Black culture, Black excellence and Black achievement at the University of Kent.
FACE (Fashion Academics Creating Equality) works to challenge Higher Education Institutions and industry in fashion, art and design fields to be more inclusive, unified and equitable, with a particular spotlight on issues concerning race, colour and ethnicity. More information on the FACE academics who have supported this exhibition through text and works can be found at
Horniman Museum is located in Forest Hill, South East London, and aspires to connect visitors with global cultures and the natural world, encouraging us to shape a positive future for the world we all share and was the Art Fund Museum of the Year winner 2022.
Works and text produced by FACE Academics and Students for Horniman Museum’s Hair: Untold Stories can also be viewed online.

Intersex Progress rainbow flag

LGBTQ+ flags and what they represent

At Pride celebrations at Kent, at Pride marches and Pride festivals you may have seen several flags being flown, wrapped around bodies, worn as capes or represented on posters and flyers, as banner images on websites or popping up on your social media feeds.  

There are many flags, and each one represents a specific community of people. This blogpost will give you a bit more information about the some of the different flags you are likely to come across so that you can identify them and understand a little more about the deeper meaning behind each one, and why they are so important to students and colleagues who work and study at Kent. 

We normally fly these flags on the flagpoles on the top of our buildings, however the recent bad weather and storms has unfortunately damaged the poles and their pulley mechanisms. We are working hard to get them repaired in time for Pride Month in June. 

Rainbow Flag 

8 stripe rainbow flag

The original Rainbow Flag is a symbol of LGBTQIA+ pride and the LGBTQIA+ social movements. It was created by artists Gilbert Baker, Lynn Segerblom and James McNamara in 1978 and was first flown at the San Franciso Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25. The original design had eight colours, starting with hot pink on the top, with each colour having a specific meaning, although most variants today show the flag with the traditional six colours of a rainbow, with red always on the top. The original eight colour represented (from top to bottom); hot pink (sex), red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), turquoise (magic), indigo (serenity), violet (spirit). 

Over the years the original Pride flag has been redesigned to become more inclusive. 

Intersex Progress Pride Flag  

Intersex Progress rainbow flag

The Intersex Progress Pride Flag is currently the most inclusive flag for the LGBTQIA community, with the colours, chevrons and circle all having a specific meaning. We normally fly it above our central administration building (the Registry) and it is the flag flown on the only flagpole at our Medway site. It is also the giant flag you will see on the side of the Jarman building all year round. 

In 2017, Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs added black and brown stripes to the original Rainbow Pride flag to recognise people of colour. One year later, an artist called Daniel Quasar released a redesign of the Pride flag, called the Progress Pride flag, which was widely shared on social media. It included black and brown stripes (to represent marginalised people of colour in the LGBTQIA+ community), pink, pale blue and white stripes (to represent the trans community), and also represents those living with HIV and AIDS. Quasar explained that “the arrow points to the right to show forward movement, while being along the left edge shows that progress still needs to be made”. 

In 2021, Valentino Vecchietti of Intersex Equality Rights UK, shared an updated version to the Progress Pride flag, which included a yellow triangle and purple circle to represent the intersex community, creating the Intersex Progress Pride Flag that we fly at Kent today. 

Bi Pride Flag 

Bi Pride flag

Featuring three horizontal bars, two fifth pink, one fifth purple and two fifths blue, the bisexual flag is a pride flag representing bisexuality, bisexual individuals and the bisexual community. The pink stripe represents attraction to the same gender, while the blue stripe represents attraction to the opposite gender. The purple stripe, the resulting “overlap” of the blue and pink stripes, represents attraction to all genders, including non-binary people and those of other gender identities 

The flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998 to increase the visibility of bisexuals among society as a whole and within the LGBTQIA+ community. He aimed to give the bisexual community a symbol that is comparable to the rainbow flag for the greater LGBT community.  

Transgender Pride Flag 

Transgender flag

Possibly the most recognised transgender flag design is the “Transgender Pride Flag”, used as a symbol of transgender pride and diversity, and transgender rights. The flag was created by American trans woman Monica Helms in 1999 and was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2000. Helms describes the meaning of the transgender pride flag as: “the stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional masculine color. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional feminine color. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender “.  

At Kent we normally fly it above Keynes College as this is the home of our transgender staff and student support group, run by the Canterbury Trans Network. 

Lesbian Stripe Pride Flag 

Lesbian stripe flag

The “pink” lesbian flag was derived from the colours of the lipstick lesbian flag (created by the writer of the weblog This Lesbian Life in 2010), with the kiss mark excluded. The pink flag attracted more use as a general lesbian pride flag than the Lipstick Kiss flag. The design comprises of seven stripes consisting of six shades of red and pink colours and a white bar in the centre.  

The Lesbian Stripe flag (also known as the Lipstick Flag) isn’t without its controversies, with the most common concern being that it only represents feminine presenting lesbians and has the potential to exclude butch, non-femme and androgynous lesbians.  

Gender Queer Pride Flag 

Gender queer flag

Marilyn Roxie, an advocate, and genderqueer writer, designed the genderqueer pride flag in 2011. The flag has three colours and three stripes.  

  • Lavender, created from a mix of pink and blue, which have traditionally stood for men and women, expresses queer identities and androgyny. 
  • White represents gender-neutral and agender identities. 
  • Chartreuse represents identities that aren’t in the gender binary as well as the third gender. 

A genderqueer person does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but still identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders. The term genderqueer is similar to non-binary, but has a slightly different meaning and is best considered an umbrella term to cover any identity that isn’t cisgender. 

Non-Binary Pride Flag 

Non binary flag

The Non-Binary Flag is used to represent individuals who do not identify strictly as male or female. The flag consists of four horizontal stripes of equal width. The yellow represents those who identify outside of the gender binary, the white represents people who identify as many or all genders, the lavender represents a combination of male and female genders and the black represents an absence of gender.  It was designed by Kye Rowan in February 2014 when they were 17 years old.  

Both the Genderqueer and Non-Binary Flags contain the colour lavender in reference and respect to LGBTQ+ history. A 1935 dictionary of slang included the phrase “a streak of lavender”, meaning a person who was regarded as effeminate. A different-gender marriage where both parties were assumed to be gay was called a Lavender Marriage. The Lavender Scare was a moral panic in the mid-20th century were LGBTQ+ people were dismissed en-masse from their jobs within the United States government. Expressions used by the LGBTQ+ community are sometimes referred to as Lavender Linguistics.  

Asexual Pride Flag 

Asexual flag

In 2010 the first Asexual Pride flag was formally announced. The final design, created by AVEN (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) user ‘standup’ was selected due to receiving the most votes in an online, open-access poll. The flags consists of four horizontal stripes, with Black at the top for asexuality, grey for grey-asexuality (the spectrum between asexuality and non-sexuality / allosexuality), white for allosexuality and purple for community. The Flag is commonly used as a representation for asexuality as a whole.   

Living Black at Kent

The first research report into Black students’ experience in UK purpose-built student accommodation, Living Black at University was published in February 2022 by Unite Students. At the University of Kent, we wanted to respond to and act upon the findings and recommendations of the report published which had found evidence of racism, cultural insensitivity, and exclusion – all of which had a significant impact on Black students’ mental health.

A Living Black at Kent Working Group was set up in April 2023, comprising stakeholders from across the University and student union, to respond to the findings, and ten recommendations in the report listed below, thereby improving, and enhancing the lived experience for our Black students.

  1. Universities and accommodation providers should collaborate to eliminate racism from all areas of the student experience, including student accommodation.
  2. Improve acclimatisation and integration activities for all new students and extend the period over which these activities take place.
  3. Introduce meaningful race training for peers and staff.
  4. Accommodation providers should confirm a commitment to tackling racism, both in their internal policies and in their student behavioural agreement or charter
  5. Improve the representation of Black people as employees to reflect the diversity of students.
  6. Universities and accommodation providers should work together to create intentionally diverse and inclusive student accommodation.
  7. Universities and accommodation providers should collaborate to ensure mental health and wellbeing support is available, accessible, and appropriate for Black students.
  8. Ensure there are clear and accessible policies and procedures (including anonymous reporting) that deal explicitly with racism in accommodation.
  9. Accommodation providers should routinely collect, analyse, and publish relevant data on the racial diversity of their residents and employees, as well as outcomes of reporting and investigation of complaints.
  10. Accommodation providers should work to build a relationship of trust with Black students.

So far, we have looked at our acclimatisation and integration activities to ensure that we offer a diverse range of options during our welcome period, and we are making this a real focus for our ResLife programme to ensure that this continues throughout the academic year.

We have considered Kents student demographics to ensure we are providing culturally relevant services. Our catering options were reviewed as part of this, and students and suppliers were invited to a food tasting event, where we could gather feedback about our food offerings on campus. As a result, in September 2023 we launched a West Indian microbrand called Three Little Birds and are also offering a selection of African and West Indian drinks and snacks in our catering outlets.

Current residential students were invited to share what advice they would give to new students moving to Kent for the first time in terms of other culturally relevant services in the area. From this we have created a welcome booklet called ‘Living Black at Kent’ featuring peer-to-peer advice from current students, signposting to where students can find global food suppliers, Afro-Caribbean hair salons, and suggestions for student societies and faith groups.

As the Living Black at University (LBU) report is a national project, to ensure that the work we do here at Kent is relevant for our student body we included the original research questions in our 2022/23 end-of- year residential student survey to which we had a fantastic response rate, demonstrating the engagement of Kent students in this discussion.

The findings were compared with the original LBU Report findings, as well as comparing with qualitative data collected by both our EDI team and Students Union which focused on Black students’ experiences at Kent.  With this feedback data we are confident that we are improving areas at Kent that will have significant impact.

The residential survey, with the addition of the LBU elements, will run annually at Kent enabling us to respond to the current student body and measure our initiatives impact.

Most importantly is here at Kent we are open to the findings and embrace change to make positive improvements for our Black students; we look forward to sharing the results and initiatives as they evolve with you and welcome any feedback you have on the Living Black at Kent project.

Inclusive Pride Flag

Introducing LGBT+ History Month 2024

What is LGBT+ History Month? 

LGBT+ History Month takes place every February in the UK and is a month-long celebration of LGBTQIA+ identity and observance of the injustices and discrimination faced by the community in the past, and faced by many still to this day. LGBTQIA+ people have the right to live their lives as their true, authentic selves free of fear, discrimination or harassment and one of the goals of LGBT+ History Month is to move us as a culture towards a society that is kinder and fairer to LGBTQIA+ people. 

The 2024 theme is Medicine – #UnderTheScope and it celebrates LGBTQIA+ peoples’ contribution to the field of Medicine and Healthcare both historically and today. 

This year, LGBT+ History Month wants to showcase the amazing work of LGBT+ staff across the NHS and in other healthcare settings, in providing healthcare, especially during the pandemic. The Month also aims to shine a light on the history of the LGBTQIA+ community’s experience of receiving healthcare, which has been extremely complicated and leaves LGBTQIA+ people still facing health inequalities even today.  

What’s on at Kent 

At Kent, LGBT+ History Month is organised by the University of Kent, Kent Union and the Students’ Unions at Medway. Events are open for staff and students and the vast majority are free. See all LGBT+ History Month events

Key events include: 

The LGBTQ+ In Lockdown Exhibition, available to view in the KMMS Pears Building showcasing the experiences of LGBTQIA+ students during the Covid pandemic, the LGBTQ+ In Lockdown exhibition is a powerful reflection on identity, isolation and time experienced by so many LGBTQIA+ people during the pandemic. 

There is an LGBTQIA+ Careers Fair at Medway where you can meet employers from 20+ Stalls from Stonewall accredited organisations to showcase their work, their EDI commitment and any placements or roles they have currently. 

There are loads of Give it A Go and crafting activities taking place at both the Canterbury and Medway sites; from friendship bracelet making to flag making and pronoun badge making. Check the website for dates and times. 

Loughborough academic Dr Jo Harper will be giving a talk about her research into the impact of testosterone in sports and the culture, attitudes and barriers for transgender athletes. 

There are film screenings at the Gulbenkian Cinema for Femme and All Of Us Strangers and loads of fun craft activities that celebrate LGBTQIA+ identity. 

What support is available to me? 

  • We have a large number of resources available to support LGBTQIA+ students at Kent and can signpost to external resources. 
  • Kent Union run the LGBTQIA+ Network to act as a voice for LGBTQIA+ students. 
  • The University has the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, open to any staff member who identifies as LGBTQIA+. The Network hold regular social activities for members and Allies. 
  • The University runs a Gender Affirmation Fund for students who identify as trans, non-binary or gender queer. 
  • The University has an Inclusive Language Guide to help support staff and students in developing their Inclusive Language skills. Keep a look out for a future blog post in LGBT+ History Month with more information. 
  • The Canterbury Trans Network runs a bi-monthly social on campus 
  • The Kent Union LGBT+ History Month webpages feature a Curiosity Hub, designed to display dozens of films, books, podcasts, celebrities and more  – all handpicked by staff and students at Kent, with each recommendation relating to LGBT+ History Month and Pride. There are even hand-out resources as well as links to the various schemes that are available to support LGBTQIA+ students at Kent. 

What do I do if I have experienced prejudice or discrimination? 

We are committed to ensuring that all students and staff are supported at Kent and can study and work to their fullest potential. We also take discrimination, harassment and bullying extremely seriously. If you feel that you have been subjected to any form of bullying or discrimination due to your LGBTQIA+ identity, please do report it via the Report and Support tool. This will trigger an investigation and support for you, although you can do report anonymously if you prefer.  

Look out for more blog posts and information over the course of the month, and we hope you enjoy LGBT+ History Month. 

What do I do if I want more information? 

If you have any comments or feedback about this month’s activity, or any other History Month or equality, diversity or inclusion related activity, please do email 


Students, staff and alumni involved in the Disability History Month project

Introducing Disability History Month 2023

Disability History Month (16 November – 16 December 2023) is an annual event that aims to promote acceptance of disabilities (physical, mental, visible and hidden) and champion change to ensure that all people have fair and equitable access to opportunities and services. 

At Kent, we use the month as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the services we have available, ask students to tell us what is missing, and encourage open and honest conversation to raise awareness and challenge assumptions.  

The national theme for 2023 is Children and Young People, with a focus on the experience of disablement amongst children, young carers and young people in the past, now and what is needed for the future. For many of our students, this will be a recent experience and something that may have been positive, or negative. 

Barriers caused by society 

For a long time, society operated under the assumption that the barriers experienced by people with disabilities were caused by the limitations that their bodies and minds placed upon them (the Medical Model of Disability) and the only way to overcome these was to treat the person rather than consider how to remove the barrier.

The fact that society itself may pose a barrier for people with disabilities was not a concept that was widely considered until the Social Model of Disability was created. This model, first expressed by Kent Academic Mike Oliver, says that disability does not come from the physical or mental limitations imposed by a person’s body or mind, but rather by the limitations and barriers inflicted by society around it. These barriers could be physical (lack of drop curbs or ramps), institutional (jobs that do not adapt to the needs of people with disabilities), structural (lack of pathways for diagnosis at a young age), societal (attitudes towards mental health), or political (lack of investment in social care or individual welfare). All of these factors contribute to a society that puts barriers in place for people with disabilities. The model also supports the concept that if you remove barriers for people with disabilities, many other people also benefit (for example if you put a ramp in, a wheel chair user can easily access a building, but so can someone pushing a buggy, using a walking stick, or with a twisted ankle).

Another model is the Psychosocial Model which, like the Social Model, believes that society imposes restrictions on people but also acknowledges that some conditions do benefit from medical interventions and by adopting both approaches you offer people with disabilities the best opportunities to succeed. In short, making society more accessible for people with disabilities ensures that it is more accessible to all.

What’s on at Kent 

At Kent, Disability History Month is organised by both the University of Kent and Kent Union. Events are open for staff and students and the vast majority are free. See the full list of events. 

Key events include the virtual exhibition of Disability History at Kent, where you can see the evolution of support for people with disabilities from the earliest days of the University right up to present day. 

There is a bookmaking workshop being run by Stella Bolaki, British Sign Language lessons, the Accessibility at Kent: Empowering Students to Learn, Work and Grow workshop, run by Student Support and Wellbeing, Careers and Employability Services and Kent Union and is your one stop shop to finding out everything at Kent that can support you, and the Neuro-Insurgence Open Mic Night, plus more.  

Please check individual event listings for accessibility information. If you have any queries about the accessibility of any of our events for Disability History Month please email


We are committed to ensuring that all students and staff are supported at Kent, and are able to study and work to their fullest potential. We also take discrimination, harassment and bullying extremely seriously. If you feel that you have been subjected to any form of bullying or discrimination due to a disability, mental or physical, visible or invisible, please do report it via the Report and Support tool. This will trigger an investigation and support for you, although you can do report anonymously if you prefer.  

Look out for more blog posts and information over the course of the month, and we hope you enjoy Disability History Month. 

If you have any comments or feedback about this month’s activity, or any other History Month or equality, diversity or inclusion related activity, please do email 

Black female student holding degree and smiling at graduation ceremony


Black Female Professors in Higher Education

Welcome to Week 4 of BHM 2023!

Professor Diamond Ashiagbor

Black Female Professors in Higher Education University of Kent Black Female Professor, Diamond Ashiagbor

As of December 1st, 2020, there were 224,530 academic staff members employed in UK higher education institutions, excluding atypical staff. Among the 22,855 professors, 6,510 (28%) were women, consistent with the previous year. Of the total academic staff, 17% were EU nationals, while 15% were non-UK nationals from non-EU countries. The majority of academic staff were White (89%), with 7% being Asian.

In terms of Black representation, only 160 professors (1%) were Black, out of which 61 were Black women. As we commemorate Black History – ‘saluting our sisters’, it is crucial to address the underrepresentation of Blacks in academia, particularly Black women, and the resulting barriers to career advancement and professorship. The empirical evidence highlights the urgency in today’s world, to go beyond headlines, surface-level, and endless discussions and actively push for accelerating the implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education and other domains, with reference to quantitative metrics and qualitative narratives.

Category 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
Source of basic salary
Wholly general financed by the provider 158,375 163,010 169,790 174,265 174,940
All other sources of finance 48,495 48,970 47,275 49,260 49,590
Academic employment function
Teaching only 56,130 61,050 66,355 72,540 72,970
Teaching and research 100,165 100,120 98,600 98,085 98,630
Research only 49,085 49,515 50,855 51,510 51,375
Neither teaching nor research 1,490 1,290 1,255 1,390 1,555
Contract level
Professor 20,550 20,940 21,520 22,810 22,855
Other senior academic 6,050 6,175 6,185 6,115 6,220
Other contract level 180,270 184,860 189,360 194,600 195,455
Terms of employment
Open-ended/permanent 137,025 141,035 144,315 148,945 151,920
Fixed-term contract 69,850 70,945 72,750 74,580 72,610
Total 206,870 211,980 217,065 223,525 224,530


As universities experience an increasingly diverse student body, it becomes essential to have a teaching academics that reflects this diversity. Creating a diverse staff is crucial for promoting inclusivity and creating a student-centered educational environment. This entails not only increasing the representation of Black female professors, but also other ethnic minorities. Representation is important. When students of color see lecturers who resemble them with shared experiences, a sense of belonging and acceptance on campus is fostered. Consequently, this can positively impact Student Success and overall retention.

Black professors have a significant and positive impact on higher education. They bring their unique perspectives, experiences, and expertise to the classroom, enriching the learning experience for all students. Black professors also serve as role models and mentors to Black students, helping them to succeed academically and professionally. Black professors in higher education can have a significant and multifaceted impact on the academic community, students, and the broader society. Here are some specific areas of the impact of Black professors in higher education:

  • Diverse Perspectives | Institutional Change

They contribute to a more diverse and inclusive curriculum. Black professors are more likely to teach courses on race, ethnicity, and social justice, which are essential for all students to learn about.

  • Representation and Diversity| Mentorship | Student Success

They also bring their own unique cultural perspectives to their teaching, which can help students develop a better understanding of the world around them. They improve academic outcomes for Black students. Research has shown that Black students who have Black professors are more likely to graduate from university and earn higher grades. This is likely due to a number of factors, including increased role modelling, mentoring, and cultural understanding.

  • Inspiring All Students| Role Models| Social Justice and Equity

They create a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate. Black professors can help to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus climate for all students, regardless of their race or ethnicity. They can do this by serving as role models, mentors, and advocates for Black students, and by working to create a more equitable and just campus community.

  • Research and Scholarship | Global Perspective | Community Engagement

In addition to these specific impacts, Black professors also play a vital role in advancing knowledge and scholarship. They conduct research on a wide range of topics, including race, ethnicity, social justice, and the Black diaspora. Their work helps to expand our understanding of the world and to promote social change.

While Black professors make significant impacts and many positive contributions to higher education, it is important to note that there are still challenges and disparities in representation and support for the larger Black community. These include issues such as underrepresentation, pay gaps, and barriers to career advancement. Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in academia require urgent action.

Black female lecturers are crucial to the academic success of all students in higher education. I’m optimistic! Look at that smile and pure joy on the face of one of our Kent students who graduated this July. I believe she is on her way to greatness, perhaps another Black female professor in the making…

Black female graduate posing for photo at graduation ceremony

I hope this #KNOWLEDGESHIFT about BHM 2023 has inspired you in some way and enhanced your understanding of Black culture and its people. The blog series has explored various topics such as Black hair, African talking drums, Black cuisine, and Black female professors in higher education. I invite you to make room for one another, every culture, and ethnicity – there are galaxies yet to be explored. It’s the Human Race, not colour race. Thank you!

Nigerian Jollof Rice with Plantain and Beef


#KNOWLEDGESHIFT by Dr Yetunde Kolajo

Welcome to Week 3 of BHM 2023!

Let’s talk about food, I hope you’re hungry!!!

Nigerian Fufu and Egusi soup

This week’s blog is another great opportunity to celebrate BHM theme of ‘saluting our sisters’.

Food plays a significant role in defining and differentiating black culture. It is often said that food is the gateway to the soul, bringing families and friends together, regardless of how much or little one may have. The love and connection shared over dinner tables are truly priceless.

Red beans and Plantain

Nigerian Sweet Red Beans and Plantain

The role of black women as masters of the kitchen and the significance of cooking meals for their families is embedded in most African cultures. Food and cooking are often used symbolically in most black cultures to represent a range of themes, from love and nurturing to cultural preservation and resistance. The history of African food exemplifies how preparing food becomes a symbol of survival and familial bonds in the face of adversity. There are numerous talented black female chefs, food authors, and bloggers in the world of black food cuisine, and a significant number of them own their own restaurants.

Nigerian Okra Soup

Nigerian Okra Soup

Diverse Origins: Black cuisine is not monolithic. Black cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition that encompasses a wide range of dishes, flavours, and ingredients. It has diverse origins and has been influenced by various cultures and cuisines of African, Caribbean, Southern American, and European culinary traditions. Understanding the regional differences is important. Black cuisine is also a celebration of resilience and creativity, as it is often associated with communities that have been historically marginalised and oppressed.

Black food is a celebration of culture and heritage. It is diverse and delicious, known for its bold flavours and use of fresh ingredients. Black cuisine reflects resilience and creativity and serves as a unifier for communities. It is often associated with family gatherings and community celebrations, as it offers a way to come together and celebrate shared culture and heritage.

Here are some interesting facts about black food:

African Roots: Many dishes in Black cuisine have their roots in West African cooking, such as jollof rice, okra soup, and fufu. Learning about the ingredients and cooking techniques from Africa is essential.

Soul Food: Soul food is a popular subset of Black cuisine, known for its comfort dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and macaroni and cheese. Understanding the history and significance of these dishes is important.

Caribbean Influence: Caribbean cuisine, with its emphasis on tropical ingredients like coconut, plantains, and spices, has greatly influenced Black cuisine. Learning about dishes like jerk chicken, roti, and callaloo provides broader insight.

Creole and Cajun Cuisine: Creole and Cajun cuisines, with their mix of African, French, Spanish, and Indigenous American influences, play a significant role in Black cuisine, particularly in Louisiana, USA. Dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée are worth exploring.

African-American Traditions: African-Americans have their own unique culinary traditions, often referred to as Southern cuisine. This includes dishes like collard greens, black-eyed peas, and sweet potato pie. Understanding the historical context of these dishes is crucial.

Ingredients: Essential ingredients in Black cuisine are endless, such as okra, yams, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and various spices and seasonings like cayenne pepper, allspice, and thyme.

Nigerian Jollof Rice with Plantain and Beef

Nigerian Jollof Rice with Plantain and Beef

Are you interested in preparing a delicious Nigerian Jollof Rice meal? Check out this link for a recipe.

Last series was about African Talking Drums and I hope this week’s #KNOWLEDGESHIFT with focus on the unique and fascinating aspects of Black cuisine you have found intriguing and informative. I trust that I have piqued your interest and appetite and provided valuable insights into the world of African cuisine. I encourage you to find an African Caribbean restaurant near you to try some of the delicious beautiful delicacies that black cuisine has to offer. Yum! See you in Week 4


#KNOWLEDGESHIFT by Dr Yetunde Kalajo

African Talking Drum

Drums are symbolic representations of African culture, particularly in West Africa.

The Yorùbá drumming tradition is characterised by its unique style that differs from the European approach to drumming (Finnegan, 2012; Iroko). It is considered more than just music, as it is a highly cultured means of communication. This traditional form of drumming plays an important role in conveying messages, emotions, and even history within the Yorùbá community (Iroko 2023: Speaking Without Voice). The African Talking Drums were developed and used by forested cultures for long-distance communication and religious ceremonies. This hourglass-shaped instrument can be precisely controlled in tone and articulation, but its sound can only be heard in close proximity such as in a gathering or marketplace. It is mainly used during ceremonial occasions, including dance, rituals, storytelling, and communication of important information (Akinbo, 2021; Britannica)

In West Africa, especially in Nigeria and Senegal, the talking drums have become a popular instrument in music genres like Jùjú and Mbalax in the 20th century. West African ethnic groups have different variations of the talking drum (Akpabot, 1975; Motta, 2020; demfirecreation).

  • Tama (Wolof of Senegal)
  • Dondo (Akan of central Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire)
  • Doodo (Songhai and Zarma of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger)
  • Gan gan, Dun Dun (Yoruba of Nigeria and eastern Benin)
  • Lunna (Dagomba of northern Ghana; Mossi of Burkina Faso)
  • Kalangu (Hausa of northern Nigeria, Niger, northern Ghana, Benin and Cameroon)

The African talking drums are not exclusively played by men, but the extent of gender involvement can vary depending on the specific cultural context and tradition within Africa. In many African societies, both men and women can play talking drums. However, there may be cultural norms or traditions that influence who typically plays them. For example, in some West African cultures, talking drums are often played by male drummers, while women may have different roles in the musical or social context. In other regions, men and women may participate in drumming activities without significant gender-based restrictions.

Aralola Olamuyiwa, Female African Drummer

Also, the drums themselves can be referred to as male and female drums as a result of the sound they produce. Some scholars believe that a drum’s distinguishing characteristic might be associated with its high or low pitches, but rather with its “bigness” and “littleness” of sound. “Bigness” referred to a loud and forceful timbre, while “littleness” referred to a soft and gentle timbre. Drums that produced a loud, penetrating sound were classified as male, while drums that produced a gentler sound were classified as female (Carrington, 1971).

The African Talking Drums have gained immense popularity and recognition worldwide due to their captivating effect. You will see the African Talking Drums in various musical performances, orchestras, and even in the Award-winning soundtrack of the movie Black Panther. Their unique sound and traditional significance have made them a sensation and a significant part of the global music scene.

Last series was about Black Hair and I hope this week’s #KNOWLEDGESHIFT on Talking Drums you have found intriguing and informative. See you in Week 3


Blog by Dr Yetunde Kolajo

Welcome to Week 1 of BHM 2023!

I firmly believe in the value of continuous learning. As Albert Einstein once said, when you cease to learn, you cease to grow – I say “When you stop learning, you cease to exist.” This timeless message remains relevant today, as a lack of ongoing education can inhibit personal growth and progress. It is important that our society does not become devoid of understanding. Without ongoing learning, one’s potential for improvement and development is limited, particularly within the realm of higher education. I find Robert Kiyosaki’s emphasis on the importance of fully experiencing life rather than simply existing to be especially poignant. In order to truly live life to its fullest potential, it is essential to keep learning and growing. For higher education students and institutions alike, it is crucial to continually engage in the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and skills. Embracing a continuous growth mindset is imperative for change and success.


  • Black History Month was first proposed in 1915, 50 years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished US slavery
  • In America, the month is celebrated in February.
  • Black History Month was created to improve the public’s study of African-American history
  • In 1976, the celebration was extended from a week to a month. v The UK started celebrating Black History Month in October 1987. (source: champions)

Hair holds significant cultural value in African communities, particularly for black girls and women. It is a defining aspect of their identity and a powerful symbol of beauty and pride. BHM 2023 is an opportune moment for our community to delve deeper into the unique and exquisite qualities of Beautiful Black Curly Kinky Hair.

According to Selkridge-Carty ‘s 2021 blog post, the elimination of European beauty standards for black women and girls would effectively end the fashion oppression of black hair.

As we celebrate 2023 Black History Month, we have a unique opportunity to expand our collective knowledge and understanding of this important event. Recently, I watched a thought-provoking TED Talk by Mena Fombo from the ‘No. You cannot touch my hair!’ campaign.

This campaign is a great example and can provide valuable insights into this year’s Black History Month theme, which is focused on recognising and honoring the significant contributions of Black women and girls to various movements throughout history – The theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’.

Let’s support and embrace the #WEMATTER movement for BHM 2023 by focusing on increasing awareness and knowledge.

Check out this 14-minute video celebrating Black Women and Girls


A Younger Becky with Family

A Conversation with Becky Lamyman

This two-parter blog series follows conversations held with staff members at the University of Kent during South Asian Heritage Month 2023.

In this article, we hear Student EDI Officer Becky Lamyman’s thoughts on identity, heritage, and belonging. As part of the University’s South Asian Heritage Week in 2022, Becky wrote the article White British or Mixed Race?.

B – Becky Lamyman, Student EDI Officer and Interviewee
Z – Zoe Grasby, EDI Office Assistant and Interviewer

Z: How are you really doing this summer break?

B: There’s not enough hours in a day to get everything done, especially when you are juggling childcare, work, summer holidays. I think a lot of people who do not work in Higher Education (HE) get the impression that we have the whole summer off like schools do and that we close. And the reality is that is not the case. You are trying to get work done while people around the university are on annual leave, on summer holidays, et cetera. Everything just slows.

I’m slightly panicking about how little of the summer is left, but then I remember that the students are not back until late September. So, there is a bit more time than I sometimes think there is. But yes, there is too much to get done.

Z: Tell me about your current role at the University. What do you get up to and what do you enjoy the most?

B: I am the Student EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity) Officer at the university, and I have been here for 11 years now. I love the job and I love the unpredictability of it and the fact that it is so varied. There is a rough structure to my year, because you know that October is always Black History Month, February is always LGBT History Month, there’s always Worldfest in March and things like that. But what we do on a day-to-day basis can change up so much.

I have a lot of meetings with people around the university. I always describe my role as an octopus because it has these tentacles that reach out across the entire university and gets into everybody’s business – hopefully in a nice way!

I have always said that my goal for my role is that the university will turn around and say, “sorry, you do not have a job anymore. You have worked yourself out of one because everything is brilliant!”. It is never going to happen. I am very realistic about that fact. There is always something else to do.

Z: When did you realise you wanted to work in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI)?

B: Until I got the job, I did not know this role – this type of work – existed. I had always done a bit of EDI work. I was the Education Sabbatical Officer for Kent Union. I have worked with students my entire career, apart from a very brief stint in Social Services for 10 months. While I was General Manager of CCCU (Canterbury Christ Church University) Student Union, I did an awful lot of EDI work, it just was not under the EDI banner. I was introducing HR (Human Resources) policies including flexible working. I was doing awareness raising for History Months. I was working hard with the LGBTQ+ and other societies. But it was not framed as equality. It was not a buzzword then. It was not something people really knew about.

And then the Equality Act came out in 2010 and suddenly everyone was talking about equality and this role here at the university came. I was going through a redundancy process, and I got lucky. I was in the right place at the right time to apply for this role. At the time it was only 50% EDI. The other 50% was community relationships, which meant that when students had house parties, I got the phone call from the angry neighbours. Eventually that role got split into two full-time jobs and my line manager at the time asked me what I wanted to do. I chose the EDI path and I have been on it ever since. This was before Athena Swan. This was way before the Race Equality Charter. It was pre- a lot of legislation. I have seen all of this grow as I have been in the field.

Z: Do you think you have a preference towards working with staff, or working with students?

B: I have not really got a preference, no. What I love about students is that they are so eager for change. When you get something that catches their attention and they are passionate about, they just want to run with it. They have got so many ideas and fresh approaches and creativity and diverse ways of using technology, which is amazing. Staff tend to be a little bit more realistic when it comes to constrictions, budget, space planning, health, and safety legislation, all that kind of stuff. So, you have to bring that balance into it.

If I did not like working with staff and students, I would not still be in HE at the end of the day!

Z: How did it feel writing about your South Asian heritage last year?

 “I am staring at the question that I never know how to answer. It is a standard question, a simple tick box and one that the vast majority of people would answer without a second thought. It simply asks me to define my ethnic origin for data management purposes.

The problem is, I never know whether to tick White British or Mixed. I fluctuate between the two depending on my mood, how much of time I have spent with my family, recent interactions and sometimes it just depends on what day of the week it is. I know that for many mixed-race people, particularly second and third generation who have been born and raised in Britain, it is a question of identity that they can struggle with.”

– Becky Lamyman, White British or Mixed Race?

B: It felt nice. It is not something I really got to do much in the past and I found that as I was writing that blog post, more memories kept coming back to me. For example, the memory of the story about the boy with the orange in the myth – or the fairy tale. It was lovely.

I had not realised quite how important the elements that she (my grandma) had passed on to us really were. Because it was always just what we were. But it did leave a strong impression. I have been proud of my heritage and proud of the fact that I have Burmese blood in me. But growing up in England, you do not always make that connection so much.

Z: You wrote about your struggles with identity as someone with mixed heritage. Given that your mother is biracial, do you feel like she was able to pass on any guidance in this respect?

B: I mean, she struggled with racism, but she would never dub it as racism. It is only when she describes it to me that I tell her that it was not acceptable and she is like, “it is how it is.”  Her brothers look much more ‘Asian’ than she does (she is more often than not mistaken for Italian or Portuguese), and they’ve also experienced racism as well in their lifetimes. But they are a different generation that thinks, well, you just deal with it rather than challenge it.

She always wanted to go to Burma, and she managed to do that. But she has got a very strained relationship with her mother, and I think delving too deep into [her heritage] emphasises that strain on her relationship with her.

My mother loves the food, and she is incredibly good at cooking. She loves all the food like the gulab jamun, the balachaung, lahpet, the curries. She likes the artwork, the wood carvings, she likes the visual elements of the culture. But she does not connect with the people so much, it is difficult.

Z: Am I remembering correctly that your grandfather, your Burmese grandmother’s husband, has written a book delving into some of your family history?

B: Yes, he was. I have got it here. So, there is a bit where it says…

‘I was now going through my “to hell with all women” phase when into the office came Joan Barry, a very attractive young Burmese girl who applied for a secretarial post. I was told later by the manager that she was turned down only because he considered her too good looking and would probably cause a distraction within the bachelor cause. How right he was. I tracked her down and we started dating and within six months were married. Mark arrived the following year and after completion of my tour in Burma and our setting up a home in England, the family was increased by the addition of Kim – ‘

That (Kim) is my mother. He said it was throughout his professional practise examination for his architecture qualifications that Joan’s assistance proved invaluable.

‘She’d always been extremely good at maths, particularly application of formula algebra and this is what I needed the most. With much exasperation, she got me to understand sufficiently to enable me to calculate beam loads and bending -’

I mean, this is a young girl in rural 1950’s Burma who is doing quite complex algebra. The book also delved into her experiences travelling to Britain, where most of the time it was assumed that she was the nanny and not the wife.

Z: She sounds like an amazing woman. So, can I ask, what is more important to you: family or community?

B: You know, I do not think you can replace either in any way. And I really feel for people who do not necessarily have that connection with one or the other, because I do think you miss something there.

So yes, I was thinking about this, and I think your community can be your family, but it is not to say that you must get rid of your blood family. I am incredibly lucky in that I live in a part of the UK, in a tiny little village where I have an amazing community around me. I mean, it is like a family, the way they bicker, and they get on with each other. But it is so, so supportive and we have chosen to live in that environment because our family is physically located so far away from us. We do not have that that family network physically close to us, but we still talk to them, love them, have a strong family connection.

Z: What do you think the core message of South Asian Heritage Month is – or should be? How can others support those in the South Asian community?

B: People know about a lot of the other History Months now and they do an amazing job at raising awareness about the nuances between diverse cultures. From a South Asian perspective, we all tend to get lumped in as one big homogenous group and that is not the case. I mean, you can even take from my grandmother’s homeland – the differences between the hill tribes and the city, the differences between the Chin state or the Shan state, the various religions et cetera.

People talk about common ground without necessarily considering the intricacies behind it. For example, someone may talk about the food, “Ohh, I love Asian food.” So, OK, which regions of Asian food do you love? Thai food? OK, which region of Thai food do you love?

I cooked Burmese food and all of us who sampled it decided that the region I had cooked from was too heavy on the peanut oil and the shallots for our palettes. But then I took a different region of Burma and tried the food from there, which is much more fish based. That was wonderful.

So, my core message is awareness raising and celebration. We are not a homogeneous group. Educate yourself, read a book or listen to a podcast, watch a television show (when they are accurate). Start to discover the nuances between the diverse cultures in South Asia.

There is a fantastic line. It is in, um… Pitch Perfect! There is a line where one of the judges at the music competition just tells the other one, whatever his name is, “crack a book.”  That is what I would like people to do.

Z: Do you feel a sense of belonging at the University of Kent?

B: Yes, I do. I went to work at CCCU for some time, and I remember the very first time I drove back onto [University of Kent’s Canterbury] campus, before I started my new job here, I felt like I was coming home.

I could not imagine working anywhere else now. Do not get me wrong, it goes through its tumultuous periods. But overall, I feel a sense of pride working here.

Z: If you could, what would you say to your teenage self?

B: I think the same as it is for all teenagers and all teenage girls. Do not read the magazines. Do not look in the mirror. Keep your friends around you. Trust that it gets easier!

Z: Do you have any book, film, or podcast recommendations?

B: I do EDI so much at work, that when I get home, I am watching things like Sex in the City, back-to-back Midsummer Murders, Great Pottery Throwdown, The Witcher… I just love the ‘switch off’ stuff.

Book-wise, I am currently reading the Silence of the Girls– my Classics education and background comes into play here. It is written from the perspective of the captured women of Troy, you get their names in one line of the Iliad by Homer and then they are just wiped out of history. So, some female authors are now taking these women and reimagining their stories, placing them back at the centre. I have also just finished reading Cersei [by Madeline Miller].

There is also one by a Whitstable based author. I am loving it, but I am reading it quite slowly. It is amazing. Mischief Acts by Zoe Gilbert. It is all about Herne the Hunter and his different incarnations throughout history. So, it jumps through time zones. But again, it is completely away from what I do on the day-to-day basis. It taps into my personal interests in fairytale, mythology, and classics.

Z: Finally, are there any projects, events, or programmes you are working on and would like to share?

B: Black History Month! Always want to make sure people know about that coming up. Especially with the fact we are going to have an amazing looking exhibition.  We are just finalising all the details for it now. It is with a Nigerian artist called Abolore Sobayo.

Z: I took a little peak, his work looks amazing!

B: Yes, so that is the big one for me now. But it is just like always – trying to just get people to be aware of what work we are doing within the EDI field. So, making sure people are keeping abreast of the news blogs and channels and the project work that we are doing with regards to the Race Equality Charter and Athena SWAN and Disability Confident and all the rest of it.

And just making sure that people know EDI does impact everybody. And if you think it is not related to you or your work, it will affect the environment within which you are working.