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UK Student Union Suffers Swift Backlash for Including Non-Blacks in Black History Month Celebration


A student union at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England is in hot water after unveiling a series of commemorative Black History Month posters featuring Zayn Malik, a singer and former member of boy band One Direction, and London mayor Sadiq Kahn.

The posters sparked anger among Black Brits who argued that neither men are Black or of African descent; Malik is Pakistani while Kahn’s family emigrated from India to Pakistan, ultimately settling in the U.K. before he was born.


Backlash over the posters was swift, as people took to social media to express their disgust and disappointment at Kent Union’s decision to choose two non-Black figures to front its Black History Month efforts.

“Deeply disappointed at Kent Union’s ill thought and misdirected Black History Month celebrations,” tweeted Black History Month UK, the nation’s official guide to all Black History Month events, which take place during the month of October.

“With Asian Heritage Month being observed by a growing number of countries in May, will Black icons be celebrated by Kent University then?” it added.

Several students echoed similar frustrations.

Others expressed anger at the fact that the Kent Union excluded the school’s African-Caribbean Society from weighing in on its Black History Month planning.

The University of Kent and Kent Union have since apologized for the faux pas, stating that it had initially welcomed a range of students from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds to help plan this year’s Black History Month celebration. Via Twitter, the union explained that it put out an open call for students to join them in their planning meetings to voice opinions on the matter.

The student group quickly removed the posters once they realized fellow students weren’t feeling them…at all.

For many, the Kent Union’s apology wasn’t enough. Others asserted that the matter simply shed light on the long-standing diversity and inclusion issues at the university.


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