In recent years, BABAO has begun to take steps to becoming a more inclusive organisation.
We have increased the range of discussions about equality, diversity and inclusion in our profession within the trustees and membership, reflected on how we can make our conference and events accessible to as many as possible, and established our first formal sub-group to work on equality, diversity and inclusivity in 2018. We have acknowledged and begun to explore diversity within our membership through a survey, set out aims to support colleagues from minority groups within our organisation, as well as sought to raise awareness of our discipline and community through outreach. Our work is only just beginning, but it has begun.
We acknowledge the racism and colonial thinking that characterise the origins of our subject in the UK, and how it is practised in the wider world. Biological Anthropology has been used as a tool for oppression, to support ideologies of 'race' that have no basis in scientific reality and no place in modern scholarship or society. We condemn any misuse of our discipline to perpetuate hatred or justify ideologies of racial supremacy. As twenty-first century Biological Anthropologists and Osteoarchaeologists, we seek an inclusive and holistic understanding of the human species and our evolution.
Recent events, including the murder of George Floyd in America, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities domestically and abroad, and other acts of racism, violence, bigotry and intolerance in the UK and overseas, have made us stop and think again about our organisation’s role. In particular, we are reflecting on how we can use our organisation’s resources more assertively and effectively to support our BAME members, engage our majority-white membership in effective advocacy work, and effect real and lasting change to our discipline.
We want to offer our thoughts and support to our BAME members, and recognise that this might be a really difficult, damaging, and worrying time for them. BABAO’s Board of Trustees recognise the need for everyone to speak out against all forms of discrimination and particularly racism, and share the responsibility to change our world. Now, more than ever, we are galvanised to more actively work towards encouraging diversity in our field. The lack of BAME people in our organisation is one of many manifestations of institutionalised racism in the UK and cannot be ignored.
We have tweeted our initial contribution to debates to the growing global swell of support for Black and other minority individuals and communities who have experienced systematic racism and structural violence. These same groups have also experienced barriers to academic and professional careers not faced by their white contemporaries for too long. We also wanted to issue this statement as a commitment that our words will not be hollow.
What are we doing?
The BABAO Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity sub-committee is currently working on the ED&I survey data collected at the beginning of 2020, processing data and discussing the perspectives our members have shared about their experiences of prejudice, positive experiences, and where they were not supported or made to feel welcome. We are learning about you, your experiences and how we can make the organisation a better place for all. We have been increasingly funding outreach activities to share biological anthropology and osteology with more children from diverse backgrounds, enabling our passion for our subject to be shared. We have other ideas, but we continue to welcome suggestions, ideas and feedback from all members on how BABAO can become a more inclusive organisation and how we might change how we practice in our discipline for the better.
What more can we do?
The BABAO trustees will prioritise activities that we believe will address the lack of BAME scholars within our membership. Very soon, the ED&I sub-committee will be making recommendations to the trustees in how we might work on tackling underrepresentation of various groups in the membership, including BAME members, but also other marginalised groups in our profession such as members with disabilities. At our 2019 Annual General Meeting, BABAO committed to spending its charitable funds to address these issues, and already has the support of the membership to do this. We plan to make the most of the organisation’s funds to increase accessibility to our events and support BAME anthropologists in their careers.
There is a lot of work for us to do as an organisation, but we are committed to playing our part in changing systems that have excluded individuals and marginalised groups of people from our field.
The BABAO ED&I sub-group and BABAO Trustees
4th June 2020