We have not done enough in the past, this is our promise to do better.
Over the past six weeks, the SRA has publicly remained silent on the Black Lives Matter movement, but we have not ignored it. We made the decision to stay silent across our online platforms to avoid making a rushed and reactive decision on how to move forward. Instead, we have spent the time as a committee speaking with members of the Black community and wider industry to educate ourselves and ensure we move forward with a proactive approach. We wanted to ensure that what we do has meaning and impact.
While at times, the SRA has been limited by lack of diversity in the wider industry, we have let down the Black community in the past, we have not represented our Black members to the best of our ability or put pressure on our partners to ensure our events were ethnically diverse. For that, we have no excuse and wholeheartedly apologise. We would like to thank those who have raised their concerns to the SRA Exec, publicly and privately, and thank you for helping us learn how to move forward.
Today, we’d like to outline what we will be doing to better represent the community and give a voice to the Black community.
We are aware our current officer team lacks ethnic diversity and we do not want to speak on behalf of any community we do not have representation of, to aide the SRA to ensure that the Black community are not ignored we have been seeking advice and guidance from the Black radio community and will continue to take their support throughout the year. We would like to thank Nels Hylton, Naomi Oiku, Shahlaa Tahira, Mo Ayoub and Niccy Logan for all the guidance and advice they have provided in the past weeks – and thank you for your commitment to student radio. We are delighted that Shahlaa Tahira has accepted a Non-Executive Advisor position in the SRA and will be working closely with the organisation over her two year term in the position.
Across our social media, we need to be giving a voice to all communities involved in student radio and the wider community. Led by Naomi Oiku and Nels Hylton, the SRA will be launching a Black Voices Matter campaign. This project will give Black broadcasters the opportunity to tell their story in an unedited form, giving a platform for people to share their experiences in the industry, shout about their successes and pass on advice. The aim of this project is to put a spotlight on all the talented Black broadcasters we haven’t done enough to celebrate and to hopefully empower young black creatives within the student radio community.
On the announcement of the campaign, Naomi Oiku said; When I first started volunteering for the SRA there were hardly any women on the committee so we have spent the past year empowering more women ensuring that we had fair gender representation across the organisation. Right now, it’s more important than ever that we work to empower the Black community to get into the radio industry. It’s crucial for the SRA to hold radio companies accountable to make sure that they are working towards becoming more diverse. Without a diverse industry it makes it harder for Black people to have the confidence to apply for roles within radio and I’m so glad the SRA are taking positive steps to make a change.
As we head into the 2020 Student Radio Awards season, we have been assessing the diversity of judges in the past. While we have been trying to have as diverse a pool of judges as possible, we can do better. The SRA Executive Officers are not involved in the choosing of awards judges, however, we’re committed to ensuring that we fairly represent the industry. Moving forward we will be ensuring that we have a 20% Black representation in judging for both the Student Radio Awards and the I Love Student Radio Awards.
Another improvement the SRA is committing to is better acknowledgement of Black History Month, where in the past we have not had any celebration of Black culture, people or recognition of Black history. This year, we’ll be continuing our Black Voices Matter campaign and introducing a special video series to mark Black History Month featuring industry and talent within the student radio community celebrating Black broadcasters and their successes through the decades. This project is still in initial stages and we welcome any of our members to get involved.
As an organisation we want to ensure we can be as diverse as possible, this remains a challenge with a yearly elected committee, however, to ensure we have as diverse a range of candidates running for election, the SRA have recognised the need to do more. We need to be reaching out and empowering Black students to run for election. Over the next year we will be working with our newly appointed Advisor, Shahlaa Tahira, to reach out to young Black people in radio and to work together on creating a more inclusive environment at our Training Days, Awards & Conference.
We are working with The Radio Academy to tackle diversity across the industry and taking positive steps towards increasing representation of Black communities. It is imperative to explore with The Radio Academy how we can do better collectively.
As we move towards becoming a more inclusive and diverse organisation, we will be representing the views of all students and particularly engaging with members of the Black community. We are setting out the commitment to these key pledges;
- Ensuring the Student Radio Awards and the National Student Radio Conference are diverse and have a minimum 25% Black representation across our speakers, host and panel lineups.
- Introduce a minimum 20% Black representation in our judging for the Student Radio Awards and the I Love Student Radio Awards.
- Increase relationships and partnerships with Black run organisations and stations across the UK and work collaboratively on giving students & young people equal opportunities.
- Ensure there is a zero tolerance on racism policy in effect for all SRA events, with students & industry banned from all future SRA events if found to be guilty.
- Work with award sponsors and providers to ensure award winners receive equal opportunities regardless of race.
Our advisor Shahlaa Tahira, our Black members and industry will be holding the SRA accountable for ensuring these commitments are followed, and we welcome all support and guidance other bodies can provide.
We look forward to collaborating with The Radio Academy and Pie Radio on upholding our commitments and launching our Black Voices Matter campaign in the coming weeks, and we welcome any further support from other organisations.
Our silence ends now, it’s time for Black voices in the SRA to be heard.