Common Ground is a decolonising movement in Oxford made up of students from from different backgrounds and different disciplines. We work alongside community activists, academics and other liberation campaigns to push for change.
Beth graduated with a History & English BA in 2017. She co-founded Common Ground after she became tired of seeing racist and classist aggressions swept under numerous expensive rugs. Even before she was told ‘this can never go anywhere because I have to marry into the elite’ after a drunken snog in Plush, she knew that Oxford really had a problem. By the second day of freshers’ week she had discovered that having her natural hair out in clubs would result in every other person just-wanting-to-see-what-it-felt-like-because-it’s-so-cool-!-!-!-!.
Even still, many of the responses to the Rhodes Must Fall movement shocked her. The question ‘why is racism so easy for people to ignore at Oxford?’ became a pressing one. Beth has found racism and classism at Oxford to be passive-aggressive, arrogant and pseudo-complimentary. They have been a feature of her experience with both students and staff. Beth came up with the idea for Common Ground as a means for collaborative, critical discussion and assembled the team. She coordinated the core events for the 2017 symposium.
Will is a History and German student interested in challenging the pervasive historical amnesia that exists within the UK, but doesn’t in Germany. He got interested in organising the 2017 symposium after seeing an exhibition in Berlin dealing with Germany’s colonial past – an exhibition that ended with a display of a destroyed statue of a notorious German colonist, torn down by students at Hamburg University in 1961. Will co-directed the symposium and ran the college events in 2017.
Many others have been a crucial part of our journey so far, and we are indebted to them also.