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  • for black students studying at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Academic pressure isn't always the only challenge for some.

  • It can feel like entering a new world.

  • You feel like you have to be strong, you know, my mom keeps saying to me, Just keep fighting, Just keep going, just get that degree.

  • Over the years, Oxford and Cambridge universities have come under pressure for their lack of ethnic diversity.

  • I think it's a place where race has not been acknowledged as relevant, particularly to the whole intellectual experience of being a Cambridge.

  • Last year at Cambridge, the numbers improved on previous years with the university, except in a record number off 91 black British undergraduates.

  • But beyond numbers is the experience.

  • I'm actually jump Baptiste, a BBC reporter but also a Cambridge graduate myself on.

  • Whilst I'm so glad I studied there as a mixed race South Londoner who grew up in care, it felt worlds apart from what I was used to and nearly 10 years on from my own time, I want to find out what life at Cambridge has been like for a new wave off black British.

  • Fresh is the data is stark.

  • Black British undergraduates have never made up more than 3% of Cambridge is undergraduate population.

  • This'll doesn't include international students who roughly make up a quarter of all undergraduates.

  • Steps have been made to improve things.

  • In 2018 the university launched the Storm Ze Scholarship to fund a selected number of black.

  • Fresh is.

  • But I know firsthand that once you enter Cambridge, it's not uncommon to feel out of place.

  • And as much as the university did offer support, I often felt like an imposter and totally out of my depth.

  • It's because of my own experience that I really want to know how current black students are coping in a space that is still predominantly white and privileged and to give us their insights.

  • Meet Fabiana success on Sharon successes from Manchester and studying medicine for his Nigerian parents.

  • Seeing their son studied at Cambridge is nothing less than a dream come true back home in Africa when they want to maybe make fun off you.

  • If you're studying so much, they will ask you, why you studying so much?

  • Are you going to Cambridge?

  • It's a big thing for US successes, enjoying University a few weeks in, but he was a bit concerned about finding a barber in Cambridge who could cut Afro hair success.

  • Why is it taking you so long to get a haircut in Cambridge?

  • When I looked in the mirror one day and saw this mess, I don't really know where to go A few weeks into Cambridge.

  • How's it going?

  • Uh, stressful.

  • It has been good.

  • Like I have found, I found people that quite like me.

  • E found people are very different to me, and we've gone beyond its Yeah, it's just been a really good experience when I heard about Cambridge, Oxford and all that kind of stuff like This is the place I wanted to go see if looked up.

  • Sharon, from Tottenham, is studying history in Spanish.

  • Her family of ever train origin have come to visit.

  • Oh, growing up, we like Cambridge.

  • We we've seen or something so like unattainable, but we're like a goal for you.

  • We wanted to go to Cambridge.

  • I feel like Cambridge is very welcoming that representing for air trail.

  • There's not that many Eritreans that good Cambridge.

  • I came just this a short time in this country and I never dream it.

  • That's my daughter or to go to Cambridge.

  • But it is just the dream.

  • Thank you.

  • Shadow me to make me proud.

  • As a mom, I think you did get a sense that you are different.

  • It doesn't feel bad.

  • We just something that you do have to kind of just think about Just be like, you know, if you enter certain, like classes, you might be the only person of color there.

  • You might be the only based there.

  • You might be the only one with your hair there.

  • You know, like your hair.

  • Yeah.

  • What do you mean by that?

  • Like, you know, big.

  • Like curly hair.

  • Yeah, it was all my friends.

  • I said, Like they've changed ourselves.

  • And like people don't recognize you, they are academically.

  • It's definitely lived up to its name.

  • But what I was surprised about is how I've been eased into it.

  • In a way, Fabiana is from Coventry, where she lives with her Jamaican mum.

  • She's studying psychology and behavioral sciences.

  • You know where you're going.

  • So you had Thio play the part, don't work overnight.

  • Just get up and say I'm gonna be pushed you've been working towards this.

  • You're not a follower.

  • You're a leader.

  • I'm a leader.

  • You are just a few weeks in.

  • Fabiana says she encountered racial discrimination from another students at a social event.

  • The incident involved the use of a racial slur.

  • This boy just said like a really ignorant comment.

  • He just said I'm too drunk.

  • Say the M word.

  • So that was something that, like, free me off Because I've never really experienced someone like outwardly saying something like that to me.

  • Like I've never been called the n word or anything like that.

  • What went through your head?

  • It was mainly just like shock.

  • Like I didn't I couldn't say anything that everyone just like Oh my gosh, I can't believe you just said that.

  • No one really spoke up apart from me and my black friend.

  • You're definitely like I'm black at Cambridge.

  • She decided not to report the issue, but confronted the student privately, who, she says later apologized.

  • It's not too long after her own encounter that Fabiana hears of another black students who alleges they've been discriminated against.

  • According to the student Thean incident involved a staff member from Trinity College which is one of the colleges of Cambridge University.

  • I was on the train.

  • One of my feet was on the seat.

  • A man from Trinity College looked at me in disgust and just said verbally assaulted me on the train.

  • I think to myself, would I have been spoken like that if I was a white man?

  • It really grates me that I'm getting emotional about it because you feel like you have to be strong.

  • My mom keeps saying to me, Just keep fighting.

  • She she's saying, Do you want to drop out?

  • Do you want to leave?

  • I'm fighting for every other black person who I know it needs to occupy these spaces.

  • The university has taken steps to improve its diversity, but it's clear that some black students still struggle.

  • I took the guys to share their concerns with the university's vice chancellor.

  • A lot of black students feel like when they get here, they don't really feel like a part of the university like instances where we just feel like outcasts.

  • What mechanisms does the university have for issues that black sheets experience?

  • So the first step is creating a critical mass of Behm students black students in particular, so that people did never feel alone.

  • One of the things that we've done is committed to a three year program of increasing dialogue around issues of race.

  • Do you think this is a place that is institutionally racist?

  • I think it's a place where race has not been acknowledged as relevant, particularly to the whole, uh, intellectual experience of being a Cambridge.

  • So in that sense, I would say it is racist because it doesn't acknowledge race in people's lives.

  • Despite challenges, the university's African Caribbean Society, also known as the A C s, has been a lifeline for the students.

  • It's a group that celebrates African and Caribbean culture.

  • On tonight, the students are attending a special dinner.

  • When else in Cambridge history would you get a room full of black minority ethnic students and like we're all just here, existing and driving, it's just such a beautiful symbol of how far we've come, and I'm so excited to be able to pick us off.

  • It was just over halfway through the academic year that the national lock down was announced as a result of the coronavirus.

  • The university closed students sent home lectures were moved online.

  • It marks the end of their students experience as they knew it.

  • This whole coronavirus being has just been getting on my nerves.

  • I feel like it's stressing everyone out.

  • There's nothing to look forward to because some is basically locked off.

  • Now.

  • It's been four weeks, I think since I was back at home.

  • What the heck has gone on?

  • My hair exams are in September now.

  • And while stealing with locked down black lives matter protests broke out across the UK in the summer following the death of George Floyd in the U.

  • S.

  • My mental health is not in the best shape.

  • I'm sure every black person game which has a story to share about some sort off Kovar Racism is kind of hard being away from Cambridge and not having that support system.

  • Yeah, it makes me miss Cambridge a lot you need almost done.

  • I believe she got, like, one assessment left to do.

  • Then I finished first year.

  • Okay, I just come off the phone.

  • Um, I've just had my director of studies meeting, so kind of like my parents evening about my parents.

  • Andi, I got my exam results at Somehow I managed to bag a first in both history and in Spanish.

  • And then when she told me, I just like I just I don't know how, especially in this town, because it's just been like it's been disgracefully hot on.

  • I don't think I've actually had time to just kind of process this year properly and just sit down and like, I don't know, a lot of it was kind of filled with fear and like obviously the whole, you know, imposter syndrome and feeling like, Do you really belong here?

  • Like, are you really the type of person they're looking for?

  • We just kind of, you know, with a bit of a pity, except it's like there's all those kind of things that rush into your mind and then just kind of come out on the other side.

  • I don't know.

  • It's actually a miracle.

  • And if this is what I can achieve in my first year, best believe it's been so long since I've seen the students so long that whole term has passed.

  • I catch up with them to find out how, despite everything that's happened, they feel their first year has panned out.

  • I always say that I've never felt as black as I have here in Cambridge.

  • E mean, like in Coventry.

  • There's a lot of black people around this Asian people around me, like it's very diverse.

  • But here it's not diverse.

  • You're very aware that you are black, there's no practicality.

  • And there's nothing that you apply, you know, to make black students feel mawr, you know, safe and more accepted in this in this community that at the end of the day, you know you can't say we've made progress.

  • We've tidied our hair.

  • We've spoken the way that we need to speak.

  • We've silenced this elements of our culture.

  • We've done this to accommodate any spaces, and still that's not enough.

  • Your environment can make things difficult for you, but it's not a barrier.

  • You can overcome whatever you want to overcome and be who you need to be.

for black students studying at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Academic pressure isn't always the only challenge for some.

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A2 cambridge black university studying hair experience

Being black at Cambridge University - BBC News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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