Two British Papers Accused of Attacking Black Student for Requesting Inclusion of Nonwhite Authors In Cambridge Curriculum 

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cambridge lola olufemi
University of Cambridge CUSU women’s officer Lola Olufemi has become the face of a push for more diverse literature in the English department. (Lola Olufemi/Facebook)

A Black student at the University of Cambridge has ignited a firestorm over a request for more works from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) writers to be included in the curriculum. “Decolonising the English Faculty,” a letter from a group of students that Lola Olufemi has become the face of, has earned a response from faculty. The school announced Wednesday, Oct. 25 that it would review the overwhelming representation of white authors. However, some publications have described the push as racist.

It began last June, The Guardian reported, when Olufemi, the student union women’s officer, collected classmate proposals for Black literature in an open letter. The message, presented to English faculty chairman Peter De Bolla with 150 signatures, was the result of a meeting with lecturer Dr. Priyamvada Gopal after students completed an optional postcolonial paper.

“What we can no longer ignore, however, is the fact that the curriculum, taken as a whole, risks perpetuating institutional racism,” the letter said. “The history of the canon is a history that has willfully ignored, misrepresented and sidelined authors from the global south. Sadly, the current syllabus is a result of this history; it is far too easy to complete an English degree without noticing the absence of authors who are not white.”

While the letter was simply asking for Black and other non-white authors to be considered for inclusion, two publications — The Telegraph and the Daily Mail — said it was forcing decolonization and excluding white authors.

Cambridge

The publications were bashed over their representations of the request.


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And others have lent their support to Olufemi.

The publications have since issued some form of a correction on each website, one of which Olufemi posted on Facebook.

cambridge lola olufemi

Cambridge issued a statement, which was retweeted by Olufemi. It noted that no changes have been made to the curriculum as yet and condemned the online harassment that has ensued.

Rianna Croxford, a co-author of the open letter, gave some input about what a revamp of the curriculum would look like.

And Gopal, who spoke to The Telegraph, chimed in to clear some things up.

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