NUS Black Students Campaign

Advertisements for war kicked off the dynamic history behind political posters around the period 1870-1919. This vibrant technology became a means to communicate to a mass audience, as well as creating a beautiful artwork. For me the creative element of political art should continue to be embraced and developed. One of those elements are political posters, am sure you can think of one or two of your favourite. The NUS Black Students’ campaign “Because…” poster remains one of my favourite for various reason.

[to see the text for the “Because…” poster please have a look here:]

The “Because…” poster, has been used for almost a decade as a campaigning tool by our members in colleges and universities across Britain. It is telling that the power of its message, which is consciously designed to stimulate discussion about the harsh reality of racism, has not diminished over the years. Despite welcome legislative progress that many Black students and non-Black student anti-racist allies have worked hard to secure, the contradictions and stereotypes contained within the poster continue to have real resonance with many African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean heritage people, among others, who read the poster. This is because these students can readily identify with the experiences of racism that this poster articulates in the context of their own lives in the present time.
The message of the poster is clear: given that the reality of racism is harsh and it continues to manifest itself in many different forms and expressions, this poster campaign successfully captures and confronts the multi-dimensional reality of racism and provokes a great deal of debate about how we convert paper legislation into genuine social and cultural practice in Britain and beyond. Hate crime figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers show that around 50,000 incidents were reported. Many more go unreported. Given the alarmingly high number of reports in Britain it is essential that we are to identify and strategise how to effectively and permanently eradicate the scourge of racism on campuses and in the community. Some have argued that the shock factor detracts from the campaigns message. However we do not think the ‘shock factor’ of the poster detracts from the campaign message in any way. It is essential not least because racism is more uncomfortable for those who are subjected to it than a few words can adequately express.

The message remains as powerful and pertinent to the lives of Black people today as it did do ten years ago. If some people are uncomfortable with it then we encourage them to engage in campaigns, or re-double their efforts, to engage in campaigns to tackle racism. We have also debated and taken care of how to represent the expletives without causing offence.
We think we have got it right because we have bleeped out the terms which we recognise are offensive – but they exist and are used on Black people nonetheless.

David Cameron is seeking to divide us by attacking immigrants, asylum seekers and claiming that multiculturalism is dead. In the words of Salma Yaqoob, “racism is a weapon of mass distraction” and we should be clear that he wants to find scapegoats for his cuts.

The thugs of the English Defence League continue to organise their vile Islamophobic protests in towns and cities across Britain. They want to destroy our multi-cultural society with violence and intimidation.

When the British fascists of the 1930s marched on Jewish communities we stood united and they were defeated.

We need that same unity when the fascists march on Muslim communities today. They must be defeated.

The work of the Black Students’ Campaign in actively challenging racism is something we can all be proud of.

Do get in touch with the NUS Black Students’ Campaign.

To receive regular updates and information on the campaign and how to get involved!


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