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UK Student Union Promotes Black History Month With Zayn Malik Picture

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UK Student Union Promotes Black History Month With Zayn Malik Picture

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Kent University union criticized after using former One Direction singer and London mayor Sadiq Khan in social media posts

A students’ union has been branded “a national embarrassment” by its members after using images of Zayn Malik and Sadiq Khan to promote Black History Month.

Students at Kent University complained that neither the former One Direction singer nor the mayor of London are black and neither has African or Caribbean heritage.

Social media posts released for the union’s Black History Month campaign, which featured Malik and Khan, were withdrawn on Tuesday night. Following a social media backlash, the student union president apologised for “not getting it right”.

The official UK Black History Month social media team tweeted:

 

The student union’s president, Rory Murray, said: “I want to apologize on behalf of Kent union to any individuals who were upset, uncomfortable or offended by the image shared.

“There was no intent for this to happen and I am very sorry to anybody who felt this way,” he said. “Whilst we made every effort to include black and minority ethnic students on the planning for the month, clearly, we haven’t got it right on this occasion.”

But students criticized what they called “an absolute non-apology” and a “national embarrassment”.

Benjamin Smith tweeted: “At this point, Kent Union has become a national embarrassment. From what I’m seeing, this post doesn’t really cover the extent of the offense you’ve caused and comes across as a bit patronizing.”

Devante Wallace added: “It’s not just about the image shared, it’s the fact you have the audacity to try and bundle all non-white culture into Black History Month as if we’re not important enough to be represented individually. It’s offensive to all ethnic groups.”

Micia Morgan said: “How did the students involve in this project even get into university if they can’t tell the difference between black and Asian people?”

Adam Millward tweeted:

Malik’s father is British Pakistani and his mother is of English and Irish descent. Khan’s parents migrated from Pakistan to Britain.

Other public figures chosen by Kent Union included Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Trevor McDonald.

In a joint statement, Kent Union and the University of Kent said the campaign followed the National Union of Students’ position on Black History Month, which chose to “recognise and celebrate the immense contributions that people of African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean heritage make to humanity”.

They added: “In the planning stages Kent Union worked with students to develop a campaign that celebrated a range of ethnic cultures.

“However, we can see that many of our students disagree with the direction the campaign took and that a mistake was made.”

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