TAP student Halima explains how studying the arts has helped her appreciate Black culture. In our latest Black History Month blog she explains why she hopes more BAME students will take up humanities at elite institutions in future…

Growing up as Somali in such a multicultural and diverse a place as London, I never felt out of place because the people around me looked like me. Within the education system, my teachers have continuously challenged me to achieve to the best of my abilities and my confidence has never waivered, spurred on by my classmates who came from similar cultural backgrounds. However, I’ve never been ignorant of the fact that elite universities have offered significantly fewer places to BAME students in comparison to white applicants. I’ve never been ignorant of the fact that the people at the top of many corporate businesses rarely look like me. Especially at a point when I’m applying to universities and thinking about my future. Racial discrimination is constantly on my mind, making me question whether I can truly progress through the system without any prejudice, any bias acting against me. 

Both English and Film have been subjects I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The power of a piece of literature or a moving picture allows us to experience other cultures, other worlds, other lives. Some of my favourite novels include If Beale Street Could Talk and My Name Is Why, some films including Us and Southside With You. The films and novels I hold dear are centred around the lives of black men and women, whether they be falling in love in the streets of New York or being punished for a crime they didn’t commit. They’ve taught me so much about what it means to be black and have educated me about the very real consequences of racial discrimination. I think that’s why, as a black young adult, I’m so interested in doing a combined course of English and Film at university. I want to use the skills I learn in my course and to authentically represent the minority experience, because both books and films have the ability to educate an otherwise oblivious audience. 

BAME students are underrepresented in the humanities subjects. Even in sixth form now, I am one of only two black students in my English class. It seems to me that BAME students are more likely to go into STEM subjects than humanities, despite there being no clear reason for this. I decide to take this underrepresentation as an encouragement to work as hard as I can in my future courses and proudly embody what it means to be a BAME student; excellence, dedication, and diligence. I’d like to encourage my fellow students of colour to feel that we can change the world that we live in, a world of discrimination and inequality, and succeed in all subjects by seizing every opportunity that comes our way. 

I am proud to be a BAME student and am incredibly excited to see what my future holds.

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