How Lola Olufemi Is Working To Decolonize Academia

How Lola Olufemi Is Working To Decolonize Academia

Students looking to be represented in what they are taught.

Lola Olufemi’s effort to decolonize the literature syllabus at the University of Cambridge addresses the age-old issue of lacking diversity in academia. Why the controversy?

The specific request to the University, as outlined by Olufemi, sought to “decolonize its reading lists and incorporate postcolonial thought alongside its existing curriculum.” She acknowledges the relatively new effort to address the absence of white authors in the curriculum, but posits that without further integration, the curriculum “risks perpetuating institutional racism.” Per her argument, defining British literature as the literature of the global south is a manifestation of the legacy of colonialism. Olufemi offers a detailed means of fixing the problem at hand, wherein students work with a combination of colonial, postcolonial, and ethnic minority authors. The goal, on a grander scale, is to dismantle the norm of white and male in academia.

Though the petition has existed since July 14th, 2017, the issue gained widespread attention when The Daily Telegraph covered the story on Wednesday, October 25th. With a picture of Olufemi on the front page, the headline they constructed read “Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors.” While the photograph and headline appeared on the front page, the article appeared three pages in, leaving readers a chance to develop a preconception of the story without having read the article or having contextualized the information.

The information that they did provide was reportedly faulty, as contrary to the headline’s claims. No official decision had been taken by the administration at the University in response to the letter. The implications of the article were far-reaching, in that within the time of its publication, Olufemi claims to have had her “email...flooded with racist and sexist abuse.”

University lecturer of English Priyamvada Gopal tweeted in response to the article, stating “NOT ONE SINGLE WHITE MALE WRITER will be harmed in the adding of a few BME writers to any syllabus,” and further argued that the issue had been picked up by the media as an effort to incite a race war. She later wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian, praising the student effort to change the curriculum, and stating that “Decolonising the curriculum is, first of all, the acceptance that education, literary or otherwise, needs to enable self-understanding.” The University released its own statement providing that “Changes will not lead to any one author being dropped in favour of others.” This was followed by, “We condemn the related harassment directed towards our students on social media as a result of the recent coverage.”

The Telegraph pulled their article by the 26th, and attempted to reconstruct it, but it leaves a number of truths in its wake. The backlash that the students received affirms that often when people are accustomed to privilege, attempts at equality feel like oppression. The fact that the students are still steadfast is cause for optimism; seeking representation on all grounds is, and should be, an unabandoned effort.

Cover Image Credit: Lola Olufemi / Facebook

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He Changed Everything.

My soul is richer & my heart is fuller 

Sept 2013 I found myself writing to an evangelist Jennifer Beckham looking for more, looking for answers cause at the time I was in a dark place, and stuck no matter what I did. She wrote back! I cried as I read her respond. She sent me scriptures of who god is and what he wants for us. God says we are more than conquers and endurance develops strength and character. She encouraged me that I was on the right track. Not to give up and she would be praying for me. I saw Jennifer Beckham at a conference that year. I don't remember what she specifically talked about but I remember the feeling. The feeling of wanting to burst out crying, I could feel my eyes being filled with tears, and my heart racing but I wouldn't let out the tears. My pride was too big. I wanted to be strong so I did my best to hold it all in, and I did. At this conference they offered the audience who wanted to go up for prayer and dedicate their life to Jesus Christ. Surprisingly I went up, but I went up with other people that were seeking out salvation. I wasn’t sure if I was going up to support the other people or if it was truly for me. I was confused, even though I said the prayer. I became more confused as the days went on and I wasn't feeling a difference in my life. Nothing was changing. I started reading the bible and many books, listening to sermons, and surrounding myself with positive people. I gave my life to Jesus, but I didn't feel like I was set FREE! I continued feeling empty, lost, broken, guilty, and hurt from the past. There were so many days where I just wanted to give up. Almost felt pointless to fight for my life. At this point in my life I didn't know God very much, but I had just a little bit of faith. My faith was as big as a mustard seed and God took care of the rest. Day by day, year by year I started noticing my life changing. I noticed I was changing. I started feeling happy with who I was and where I was in life. I no longer questioned God about the things that happened to me. In my heart I was ok with the wounds, the hardships, and trials from the past because I now understood those wounds and trials. I realized I was SET FREE! not perfect but set free. I started understanding who I was as a child of our heavenly father. Now it’s Jan 2018 and I’m in awe of who I am and where I am in life, all because of Jesus. His so faithful! I think of the favor, the grace, his mercy, his love, his joy and blessing that he gives me even when I’m undeserving of it, it’s overwhelming. He has never left me nor forsake me. I can say Jesus you changed everything and my heart so forever thankful. 

Today, I encourage you like Jennifer Beckham encouraged me. Keep going and don't give up. No matter what your past looks like believe in your heart that you were created for greatness. Don't let your past determine your future, be the change you want in your life. You have it in you. There is so much more to life, don't miss out on it. It's time to take back your happiness, love, joy, freedom and so much more. It's time to take back EVERYTHING the enemy has taken from you. God has made you an overcomer. I speak it right now, that you will be victorious in 2018 and the years to come. Remember, God loves you! 

Psalm 136:26 (AMP) O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his mercy and loving-kindness endures forever!

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Oprah Winfrey Running For President?

Golden Globe speech sparking some ideas.

As of Sunday, January 7, 2018, Oprah Winfrey made a few remarks during her Golden Globe speech, hinting to her possibly running for president in 2020. Later, two of her friends, who wish to remain anonymous confirm this speculation. One of the friends said that this idea has been looming for months now but that Winfrey did not come to a conscience yet.

The main point of Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes was the #MeToo movement. She also made a statement of, "A new day is on the horizon", which many liberal celebrities and viewers heard as a possible campaign cry.

At the moment, there is no serious talk right now about her running for president, but some of her fans have voiced their opinions through Twitter and Facebook after she had her speech. Along with her fans, her long time partner, Stedman Graham also mentioned that her running for president was a possibility

However what Winfrey does not have is political experience. When she needs political advice she looks to the Obamas and she fully endorsed Hillary Clinton. We may have our next Democratic candidate for the 2020 election. Although the race for president does not start until after the 2018 midterms, many candidates are getting a head start. Maybe this is her making her first move. What do you think? Will America choose another TV star as our president?

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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