Black Lives Matter: Next Steps in Chemistry

It has been 3 months since the killing of George Floyd sparked a movement and renewed calls for justice and decolonisation in regard to race equality and racism. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee in Chemistry has been engaging in ongoing discussions on how we can respond as a community and we want to share with you where we are in addressing this within the School of Chemistry.

While this movement began with police brutality against African Americans, it is crucial to acknowledge that racism exists within the structures of all institutions in our society, "with systematic provision of political, social, economic, and psychological benefits and advantages to white people, alongside the systematic provision of burdens and disadvantages to people who are not white"1. We have taken the decision that what we can do here in the School of Chemistry is to galvanise the momentum created by the Black Lives Matter movement to engage with how racism, prejudice, and discrimination affect people within our School, as well as within science and Higher Education more broadly. We will address the aspects of our culture, policies, and practices that disadvantage people of minority ethnicity, and aim to create an environment where we benefit from the talents of all and where everyone feels like they belong.

School of Chemistry Response

The three strands to our immediate response are:

  1. Education
  2. Representation
  3. Experience
  1. Education: We are developing an annual EDI workshop that will commence in the next academic year. We have some details to work out, including the format and timing, but our goal is to provide an open forum for discussion and learning. This will focus on how we as individuals and as a School can be anti-racist and be better allies to the marginalised people in our community, in addition to other EDI topics.
  2. Representation: We are looking at what positive action we can take in terms of recruiting staff and students to better reflect and represent the diversity in our society. We will examine school and college-wide data and address any gaps. Actions we can take as a School include looking at how we can encourage applications from people of minority ethnicity and from other marginalised groups, both in academic roles (e.g. the Christina Miller Fellowship), and in professional services roles.
  3. Experience: School guidelines have been developed based on the University’s Dignity and Respect Policy and we will improve the related reporting and advice structures within the School. This will help us to protect, enhance, and sustain our respectful and inclusive environment, where all students and staff feel they belong.

This is not an exhaustive list and it is just the beginning. As the EDI committee, we want to reaffirm our commitment to educating ourselves, to listening to those who have experienced discrimination, and to creating change in other areas as we become aware of them.

Resources and further reading

Some of the resources we are using to inform our discussions and actions include:

  2. Thematic Review on Black and Minority Students
  3. EDMARC Reports on Staff and Students
  4. Webinars on Racism In HE
  5. Breaking the Barriers report by the Royal Society of Chemistry

If you are interested in some general reading on the topic of racism, Black history, and racism in science, here are some recommended titles:

  • “Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • “Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging” by Afua Hirsch,
  • “Black and British: A Forgotten History” by David Olusoga
  • “Superior: The Return of Race Science” by Angela Saini

Connecting to Race Equality Networks

If you are interested in connecting with others with similar concerns you may be interested in participating in some of the following networks. Please note, if you do not identify as being of minority ethnicity, the network to join is EREN. The other networks are to connect those who do identify as being of minority ethnicity. Further information on all networks can be found here:

The Edinburgh Race Equality Network (EREN) is a network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and allies committed to creating an environment where race is celebrated and everyone is treated fairly.

The Womxn of Colour Network welcomes all staff, including PhD researchers, who are women or gender minorities of colour at the University of Edinburgh. The primary purpose of the network is for us to be in community with each other, to decrease the sense of dispersal, and to form a critical mass. Please note that we strive to be a safe and comfortably space for trans women, non-binary people and other gender minorities. To join the network please e-mail:

The Staff BAME network welcomes all Black, Asian, minority ethnic academic and professional staff, including PhD researchers, at the University of Edinburgh. We provide a safe space for the BAME members to share their challenges, experiences, and stories. We also aim to improve BAME members’ engagement within the higher education system through a wide range of activities that foster support for one another and celebrate BAME members’ achievements. We work collectively to strive for racial equality and justice at the University and beyond. To join the network, please email

The Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Campaign exists to provide a safe space within Edinburgh University Students' Association where self-identifying BME students (including students of African, Asian, Arab and Afro-Caribbean descent, those from minority ethnic groups including Jewish and Romani students, and those who identify as having mixed or multiple ethnicities) can come together, discuss the issues affecting them, and campaign to improve their student experience. 

Keep in touch…

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions we are always grateful to receive them. You can get in touch by email:

1. “Stay Woke: A People's Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter” by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi and Candis Watts Smith"

In order to achieve and maintain this standard we have an appointed Equality and Diversity Group (EDG).