In early August a post commenting on an essay by the writer Khalid Warsame, was circulated to the recipients of the Humanist email list. This post referred to Warsame’s alleged beliefs about British colonial guilt and made direct reference to ‘casual anti-white racism’. Several members of the list responded to condemn the use of this term, including a researcher and colleague in DDH. We understand that the forum editor and moderator chose not to publish two of these responses, a decision which is not in line with the behaviours and guiding principles we in the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) and King’s Digital Lab (KDL) expect. We are therefore disappointed that these standards and values were not maintained on this occasion. We will ensure this is not repeated. The moderator has since posted an apology on Humanist, admitting that the decision to censor the responses was “mistaken” and subsequently released a number of the responses.
As a community, we are committed to freedom of academic expression, and, most importantly, to the principle of empowering individuals of all backgrounds and levels of seniority to have their voices heard. We are acutely aware of the central role that the study of race and inequality, and the decolonization agenda, play as core parts of the contemporary Digital Humanities, and we are proud to have some of the world’s leading researchers in these areas among our community. We fully support the recent statement of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) – of which Humanist is an allied publication – on Black Lives Matter, Structural Racism and Establishment Violence, and the associated nine action points. We recognize there is inequality and racism around us and our community; and that some of this racism has been normalized and perpetuated in academic practice. As a university dedicated to academic, educational and research excellence, addressing issues of race and fighting racism, racialisms, and racial inequality are central to the university’s mission of ensuring our students receive the highest quality education, and that they, our staff and partners are supported to thrive while serving society and making the world a better place.
We will continue to take steps in the longer-term discussion about decolonizing the Digital Humanities and acknowledging the persistence of structural racism. As we reflect on this, we hope that we can all collectively learn how to be better practitioners and allies in the fight against racism and support our BAME students and colleagues.