As part of our Liberation in Labour Students blog series, our new BAME Officer, Lydia Okoibhole, writes about her plans for the year.
My name is Lydia Okoibhole, I go to the University of Leeds and I am the newly elected and incredibly proud Labour Students BAME officer!
Since becoming a Labour student, unfortunately there have been issues when it comes to the treatment and representation of BAME students. My first Labour Students event in Scarborough was incredibly difficult but I’m optimistic that things are changing for the better.
2016 was an amazing year for the BAME caucus in Labour students – our numbers increased massively, we had our first BAME caucus conference which was an interesting experience for those in attendance and a great way to meet BAME students from around the country. And last but most definitely not least all four of our newly elected liberation officers self-define as BAME and that’s amazing! It brought a genuine tear to my eye.
I am more than confident that this incredible trend will continue in 2017 and BAME students have already made some great achievements so far, most notably the Scottish Labour Students BAME officer, Eunis Jassemi, who managed to pass a motion about improving the representation of BAME students in Scotland. We are incredibly excited to see what changes are going to come about because of this motion. This year, as a caucus, we also have some amazing things planned.
We have decided to support the brilliant charity, ‘Hope Not Hate’. This organisation seeks to ‘challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities, building resilience against the politics of hate and fear, at a national and grassroots level.’ They do fabulous work and we are hoping to raise money for them this year through events and fundraising.
BAME Labour have an amazing mentorship scheme which will give BAME members a chance to get involved in politics by being mentored by an MP, Lord or councillor. We are looking forward to working with them to make this scheme as successful as possible.
Intersectionality will be at the forefront of our caucus and other liberation groups this year – if you are intersectional, whether that be a BAME women, LGBT and BAME or BAME with a disability your voice is often ignored but by working with Sheri, Gabriel and Rhys, the other liberation officers, I’m hoping to change that.
I’m honoured to be speaking to some Labour clubs this year about being BAME in politics and my Labour club will be hosting an event with Chi Onwurah MP about BAME representation in Politics. It would be fantastic to see events like this emulated around the country so important discussions like this are being had and I will be working to provide the tools to make events like this easier to arrange. UCLU Labour had an event recently where Dawn Butler was attendance – well done to all those who spoke and to Akif Rahman, UCLU Labour’s BAME Officer for organising such a great event.
We will be working with the National Office to make sure important BAME events, festivals and celebrations are acknowledged by Labour Students via online forums such as Black History Month, Holi or Chinese New Year.
We hope to have our second BAME conference, most likely to be done in conjunction with the other liberation groups at a liberation conference, which will hopefully be even better than the last! I’d love to have even more BAME students in attendance at what should be a fantastic opportunity to discuss, meet like-minded people and share ideas
This year our caucus will be working on a campaign called: Hands Off My Identity. Far too often, we are not allowed to define what we feel is racist, islamophobic, anti-semitic or discriminatory. This campaign will allow our caucus to speak and be open about our concerns but also show the pride and passion we have for our BAME identities.
These are just a few aims we have this year and I’m incredibly excited for the year ahead! Please follow our twitter account @LSBAMECAUCUS and like our Facebook page! If you’d like to be added to our group, please let me know.
Lydia is the BAME Officer for Labour Students.