Rahma Hussein: Making History

Whether she’s buried knee deep in textbooks about the Medieval period or rocking electric blue eyeshadow and immaculate cat eyeliner like the Somali goddess she is - one thing is for sure. 3rd year History student and recently elected VPAD for KCSLU, Rahma Hussein is making history.

KCL Her Campus sits downs with Rahma for an exclusive Q&A!

You were elected the Vice President of Activities and Development for KCSLU - As the first (of many, hopefully) black, Muslim woman, how symbolic is this?

It was absolutely one of the proudest moments of my time at King’s so far actually! I just remember how incredibly draining the whole elections process was. I stood by my record over the past year, by being on the committees of the Intersectional Feminist Society & KCL Labour, and on issues that I’m so deeply invested in, rather than tokenising issues for electability purposes. I hope that my election success signifies an increase in black Muslim women to run for leadership positions, whether that may be for society committees, or the student union itself.

 

As the newly elected VPAD, what plans do you have?

One of my main priorities this year is to increase support (financial and pastoral) for liberation activists and campaigns across King’s. The visibility and representation of BME women and communities will always be central to every decision I make as VPAD. I’m planning some incredible events for Black History Month, and the liberation history months to follow, including social events for our incoming students from BME and marginalised backgrounds.

 

You’ve been passionate about raising awareness about mental health, especially in the BME community- do you think King’s has been doing enough to cater to the BME community in terms of mental health?

As someone who has mental health conditions, I feel as though it’s my duty to speak as openly as I can about the effects both visible and hidden disabilities can have, especially those within the BME community. Whilst I don’t speak about my own struggles openly, bluntly speaking – King’s doesn’t seem to care about the mental wellbeing of BME students. From the conversations, I’ve had with other BME students at Kings, we all identify the same problems at exist- King’s and KCLSU need to acknowledge the fact that Non-BME people will never understand the struggles of BME mental health as it’s a world apart from general mental health issues. However, students themselves are coming together to make progress for BME mental health by forming excellent support groups such as Our Experience.

 

You started and currently run IRise, an online blog for Women and Non-binary people of color at Kings. What can you tell us about that? 

I just wanted a space for WoC and NBPoC to articulate their thoughts, talents, frustrations, and inspirations in an uncensored, unapologetic way. Currently, we are looking to expand our team so that we can widen our reach, and filming this year which will be super exciting. Our launch party will be held on the 27th October, and the event will be ticketed so keep ‘em peeled!

 

With the current political climate and the public being more aware about pre-existing racism in the UK, what advice would you give to any student about dealing with racism?

This is no doubt tough. It’s very difficult not to get upset by these, but over time, I’ve become comfortable with myself and my skin. I am who I am – a black Muslim woman. If that is such a threat to you, then perhaps you’d need to re-evaluate your place in the world. One piece of advice I would give to students is that you call out this behaviour, even if you are the only one. It is so important that people understand that this is totally unacceptable, and you know what, you’ll feel somewhat better that you’ve spoken up because you’ve done the right thing.

 

The KCL Somali society called out Dr Adam Perkins for his racist, ignorant and untruthful comments about the Somali society on Twitter. Were you satisfied with the results?

I will never be satisfied with his absolute joke of an “apology” as he absolutely did not acknowledge the offence he caused – neither did the university staff. We started a petition which received over 400 signatures within a few days, and even received coverage on Buzzfeed and HuffPost UK. This wasn’t the only case of racism from a staff member at KCL. What I’d really like to do this year is to introduce a more coherent complaints system in an attempt to combat casual racism/stereotypes from teaching staff, and to hold them to account for said actions.

 

What are your future goals?

Activism will stay with me for the rest of my life. My dream job is of course academia, but in the meantime I’d like to get into documentary journalism, filmmaking and photography projects. And of course, travel the world!

 

Catch Rahma championing intersectional feminism and burying her nose in history textbooks at the Strand campus!

Questions and Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity