Conference ‘cancelled’ after guest speaker refuses to cross picket line


This week, Saima Razzaq was to give a lecture on “intersectionality” at the University of Birmingham. In solidarity with the strikes, Ms. Razzaq asked if the talk could take place at the Guild, allowing her to avoid crossing the picket line. Ms Razzaq said she requested the change of venue 35 minutes in advance and found a room herself. However, rather than make that change, Ms Razzaq says the University canceled her speech completely.

Ms Razzaq was the first queer Muslim woman to lead a Pride Parade, in the UK. She is also Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Birmingham Pride. Ms Razzaq is a member of SEEDS (Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools), an LGBT organization created following protests against the No Outsiders program in schools. Additionally, she is the founder of Boatel Birmingham, Birmingham’s only floating hotel and kitchen. It’s a project that aims to make Birmingham’s canals more accessible to ‘black people and people of colour’ by donating 20% ​​of its profits to a creative fund and a canal learning.

it was like an inconvenience even before i arrived

Redbrick spoke to Ms Razzaq: ‘If I’m being honest, from the tone of this person’s voice, I felt like an inconvenience before I even arrived. I don’t even know if this rep even knew we were in LGBT history month from the interactions I had.

What I experienced yesterday was a micro-aggression and it was certainly not the first time. Microaggressions in the workplace create hostile and toxic environments that discriminate against marginalized groups. As someone at the intersection of many identities, I don’t know if this individual took offense at having to accept an order from a woman of color, a Muslim, or an LGBT person, who had a different position of the protests than her.

Redbrick asked the university to comment: “We were disappointed that Saima was unable to give her lecture. Saima requested the venue change 20 minutes before the start and despite our best efforts the short notice made this impossible. As a result, the meeting was postponed. We look forward to arranging a new date soon and seeing Saima share her thoughts with the students.


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