Corey Mwamba


do not be afraid to change the academy

I have just read this article in the Guardian about BAME students and doctorate degrees. It's definitely worth reading, and thinking about. But I wanted to set out something first.

I'm going to hand in my PhD portfolio in 18 days, after having completed it in 3 years. And I was funded to do it, starting two years after having gained a Master's degree at distinction level. According to this article, that puts me in the 1.3% of BAME students that go on to do a doctorate after a Master's.

Neither of my supervisors are black, but I have created the project that I wanted to, using the philosophical and linguistic frameworks that I wanted to use (and create). And they are very far from being Eurocentric — one of the central (and quietly stated) aims of my work is to deepen a discussion about jazz+ in ways that move away from Western philosophical discourse, and looks within the practice itself.

Within my cohort, there are people who look like me, and that is important even though we don't necessarily talk about the issues. And I have to say that BCU have been supportive — I was able to say "I am no longer using Ryanair after that racist incident," and they immediately changed my flights. I wonder how many promoters or musicians would be so supportive of an ethical principle.

All this is not to say that the article is a false representation. It is absolutely correct, and needs to be taken seriously. But it is also nihilist — it doesn't give those people who are considering this path any hope.

So I am saying: yes, this article is true. But so am I. And if you do go down this path, it is very likely that you will meet me, and I will be there with you.

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