The Campaign: Skin Deep

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Skin Deep is an online Oxford based race forum. It was created with the intention of giving matters surrounding race a platform. On the forum, people are welcome to discuss issues of race, racial representation and racial identity. It is a space in which we can explore why race is important and why racial equality is paramount, whilst challenging how race is represented in literature, the media, business, and education.

The forum is open to anyone and it is the equal responsibility of every member to share and encourage a conversation that educates cand informs people to recognise the value of heritage, taste, style, racial sensibilities, stories, traditions, imaginations and cultures and their contribution to society and civilization as a whole.

The forum was initially set up to encourage conversation amongst Oxford students, as this is where we felt the gap in a racial discourse to be most prevalent. However, it seems to have grown beyond that, especially since the ‘I, too, am Oxford,’ campaign, which was inspired by an ‘I, too, am Harvard’ article that was shared on the forum.

There seems to be a desire to transform our University towards becoming the most inclusive environment possible, something that the ‘I, Too, Am’ movements as well as other forms of race resistance within and outside of the University have called for.

There is a lot of room for change in the representation of race in the curriculum, the student and staff bodies. In an attempt to move the discourse further, a conference is taking place at Lady Margaret Hall as a follow up to the ‘I, too, am Oxford’ campaign, entitled ‘BME conference: Dissidence in an Era of Diversity’. This feautres panels focusing on activism in the age of new media, diversity in the academy and multiculturalism in the media. The conference is meant to be a place where students can explore solutions for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) issues and hear from people who are attempting to tackle these issues in a more active manner.

Again, the organizers welcome everyone to join in – the more perspectives the better. These are the kind of conversations that should be encouraged and Skin Deep seems to have been a good way of circulating these ideas and initiatives, as well as cultivating a safe space for people who may in the past have been uncomfortable talking about issues of race.

Very few pieces on Skin Deep, if any, have been written by Oxford students or any of the members themselves. What we think would be even more engaging would be to explore what we, as members of Skin Deep, think about race, sharing lived experiences, ideas and theories. In response to this, we are creating a ‘zine’ this term, and have put a call for submissions for writers, artists, photographers, designers, creative types, anyone interested in continuing this open conversation about race and racial identity.

The online forum tends to maintain itself, and I am sure it will continue to do so in the future. The zine, however, will take a lot more work, but hopefully the result will encourage people to get involved with it as a long term project that can continue the discourse on race in Oxford.

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