‘A sign of growth and a show of respect’: BAME students on renaming The Sugarhouse
‘Changing the name of the club does nothing to harm white people, but does everything to harm black people’
Within this article the term BAME is used which can have problematic connotations within itself. Many ethnic minority students believe that the term is a harsh generalisation of the experiences and identities of millions upon millions of people. Every BAME person deals with different experiences. However every POC also has their own interpretation and connection with the term. The term BAME will be used here because there needs to be a clear distinction regarding these issues of discussing Black voices and other minority voices.
Currently, the “Why is my Curriculum White?” campaign has put out a petition regarding the renaming of the Sugarhouse nightclub run by LUSU. The name of the nightclub has links to the Transatlantic slave trade as the building was as a sugar boiling house.
We asked to hear the opinions of students of colour regarding this issue. It is important to uplift BAME and specifically Black voices during this time as often the debate surrounding the issue can be significantly overwhelmed by a white opposition.
“I don’t believe the name should be changed”
Danielle, a first year from Lonsdale, thinks that the nightclub shouldn’t be renamed. She stated: “In my opinion it leads people to question why it is called that and leads people to want to find out the history of the building and it’s significance in the slave trade.
“As someone who’s ancestors were taken to the Caribbean and were forced into the slave trade, I don’t believe the name should be changed.”
“Makes me feel very uncomfortable”
Chez, a first year from Pendle, stated a different opinion: “The thought of being in a place that is somewhat affiliated with slavery makes me feel very uncomfortable and until then I won’t be spending any time there.”
She continued: “It is something that affects Black people specifically.”
“It’s important to notice the intersections between brown and Black people’s histories”
Another Black student, who would prefer to remain anonymous, echoed this sentiment. They explained: “I think it’s a good idea to get Black voices.”
However, they went on to say: “The production of sugar made the UK rich and thus enabled it to exploit other countries outside of Africa. It’s important to notice the intersections between brown and Black people’s histories.”
“What is often overlooked is the fact that there were indentured labourers from India”
Following on from this, a non-Black student, stated: “I’m of mixed white and Indian origin my grandma was born and raised in Trinidad. What is often overlooked is the fact that there were indentured labourers from India, who were brought over to the Caribbean.”
It seems like this appears to be a topic which is split on opinion. Many Black students seem to feel that this is a centrally Black issue. It is also acknowledged however, that the voices of other ethnic minorities are important in boosting Black voices regarding this issue. It is also evident that some non-Black BAME students also feel a personal connection to this issue as emphasised by the student above.
“A sign of growth and a show of respect to the minorities it involves”
Gayatri, a second year student, said: “The SU admitting to something they have done wrong is a huge thing, which is a sign of respect for the minorities. It’s acknowledgment of the fact that they’ve overlooked some of the students they’re meant to protect.
“The change is a promise to protect all students and represent the student voice without a single student overlooked, no matter their ethnicity.”
“Changing the name of the club does nothing to harm white people”
Najat, a first year from Pendle, highlighted the disparity between the privileged discussing Black issues as opposed to other issues. She stated: “If Sugar were named something in relation to 9/11 I’m sure every privileged person would speak up on how disgusting and insensitive it would be, but because this is a Black issue people simply do not care.
“It’s always people of colour fighting for ourselves in a world of complete ignorance and we’re sick of it. Changing the name of the club does nothing to harm white people, but does everything to harm black people.”
The discourse around this issue seems to be dominated by non-Black voices. When many Black people echo the sentiment that this is a Black issue, it is important to listen to them and people in colour who have a connection to the issue too. It is difficult to talk about oppression that is connected to you, so listen.
If you are a Black student reading this and you feel as if your voice is being stifled regarding this issue, do not hesitate to contact The Lancaster Tab. There is also the opportunity to join the “Why is my Curriculum White?” campaign and branching from that there is a BAME safe space to join where you are permitted to talk about anything that is on your mind without the worry of it not being confidential. Contact the WIMCW Instagram for more information.
The link to the petition can be found here.