An Indian-origin academic in London is staging a strike in King’s College, London, after being subjected to “consistent racist profiling and aggression by porters”. Priyamvada Gopal, 50, is a Cambridge University fellow who specialises in post-colonial literature. She has refused to supervise students till the “long-festering sore” is addressed by the college.
Taking to Twitter, Gopal said, “With deep regret but with 17 years of consideration behind it, I have finally decided on my behalf & of other people of colour @Cambridge_Uni to refuse to supervise any students at @Kings_College. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH of the consistently racist profiling & aggression by Porters.”
“My attempts to raise this with Fellows & with its management verbally and in writing have failed to elicit any changes. Hundreds of stories abound over the years,” she added.
Listing incidents to support her allegations, Gopal said staff members refuse to address her as “Doctor” and instead call her “madam”.
‘Please address me as Dr Gopal.’
‘I don’t care who you are.’
This is @Kings_College Head Porter who then launched into a tirade about how people treat him. I am sorry but my brown body isn’t taking the hit for that. He’d never talk like this to actual white men who behave badly.
— Priyamvada Gopal (@PriyamvadaGopal) June 18, 2018
The college administration, meanwhile, has found “no wrongdoing on the part of our staff” after conducting investigations. A spokesperson said, “We categorically deny that the incident referred to was in any way racist.”
Gopal has said the administration’s claim of conducting an investigation is a “barefaced lie” and that she was never contacted for a statement. “I am pleased to say that @Kings_College investigated themselves and have cleared themselves of wrongdoing before speaking to me, the complainant. Let me put it explicitly: the claim that @Kings_College “investigated” the incident” and found no wrongdoing is a barefaced lie. A clear, manifest & provable falsehood,” she tweeted.
After vocalising her thoughts, Gopal alleges she has received hate emails and a “continued barrage of vitriolic racist abuse”.
She has also hit out at British dailies, including The Mail and Telegraph, for its coverage of the issue calling it “falsehoods and selective reporting”.
Students at King’s College, who have come out in support, have reportedly collected evidence of racism. Sarah Jilani, a mixed-race PhD student, narrated an incident of her parents being subject to racism at the college. She was quoted as saying by news agency PTI, “Not shocked, sadly. My parents visited recently and my (brown) father was stopped and asked if ‘you sir’ was ‘with them’ (me & my white) mother.”
Meanwhile, Oxford’s student newspaper Cherwell has reportedly identified 14 incidents of “racial profiling” by porters at King’s College. According to testimonies, non-white students have said they are stopped and asked to show identity proof while white friends aren’t.