The Daley Breakfast Series
The first Daley Breakfast, ‘A womxn’s place in academia and higher education‘, was held on November 24th 2018 at the Parsonage Grill, Oxford. The event brought together women from across the University including Professor Daley, who was the guest of honor and keynote speaker. The Daley Breakfasts were established earlier this term, in honor of AfriSoc’s first womxn patron and the first African-Caribbean scholar to hold a permanent professorship at the University of Oxford; Professor Patricia Daley (pictured above). It is a series of three breakfasts held once a term at locations across Oxford, which are traditionally inaccessible for staff and students alike, particularly those from traditionally underrepresented groups at the University; graduate students from Africa and the Diaspora, and participants from developing and emerging economies. The Breakfasts are one of very few spaces at Oxford which are specifically dedicated to celebrating the achievements of womxn, creating space for under represented students and fostering inter-generational sharing on issues impacting these groups. Ultimately, they are an acknowledgment of the resilience, ambition and activism of womxn, particularly those from Africa and the Diaspora, at Oxford.The first breakfast included Staff from various Oxford Departments, the Africa Oxford Initiative and graduate students at the University.
When she joined the University in 1991, Professor Daley was the first black womxn to be appointed a lecturer at Oxford. She has worked diligently over the past 27 years to carve important and collaborative spaces across the University for anti-racist, feminist and peace studies. Against this backdrop, Dr Daley spoke candidly about how she has navigated her life as a womxn and an activist. Leaving home at the age of seventeen, Prof says she ‘never looked back’. In fact, she said, ‘it forced me to embark on a process of self-making . . . and heightened my understanding of injustice and inequality’. Prof built community with friends across national and ethnic backgrounds in the working class community of Hackney. It is here, she recalls, where she benefited from local government measures (through the London Education Authority) which ensured equality of opportunity, even for marginalized black women, through free schooling, free school meals and free tertiary education.
Throughout her address, Prof paid tribute to those who had struggled for the equality and humanity of black people including the anti slavery movement, civil rights movement, women’s empowerment movement, trade unionists, anti-racist and social justice-minded individuals. It is through the work of these champions, she said, that her life chances were transformed.
“I acknowledge my debt to them continually by ensuring that their spirits are kept alive in spaces where inequalities persist”, she said. Indeed, in an academic field that is not the top choice for many graduates and compounded by not having many (if any) black role models in Geography, Prof Daley has often been the voice for addressing inequality whether through her advocacy for widening access to maternity leave, supporting the development of the first anti-harassment policy and producing the first diverse University prospectus at Oxford.
Although Prof spoke about the ‘presumed incompetence’ that black women face and the burden of prejudice and stereotyping in academia and elsewhere; she also expressed the vitality of “building new sisterhoods”, across race and difference and employing the unique activism of black women, to stand up against systems of white, male dominated patriarchy. She impressed the importance of knowing your worth and what you are capable of, especially in spaces where women (certainly black women) are under represented and advised finding role models where they are – whether in family or literature.
Prof’s honest and frank remarks about overcoming, often against seemingly insurmountable odds, resonated with all attendees. Ultimately, it was her unshakeable sense of self which left everyone in the room feeling reinvigorated and doubly inspired. “Undoubtedly, I am extraordinary. . . and as Maya Angelou says, a phenomenal woman”, she said. Prof’s keynote set the mood for the rest of the breakfast where Associate Professors, students and other Oxford staff were able to talk openly about shared experiences in charting their way towards Oxford, space-making across various intersections of race, class, gender and marital status as well as the possibilities in store for life after a season at the world’s number 1 University. Two more Daley Breakfasts will be held at Oxford this academic year, concluding with the launch of a women’s empowerment memo, which will be developed from feedback generated through the Breakfast series.
To learn more about the Daley Breakfast, please e-mail: Secretary@oxforduniversityafricasociety.com
The Daley Breakfast series is free for participants thanks to the generous contributions of Jesus College (Oxford), Associate Professor Amber Murrey-Ndewa (Oxford School of Geography and the Environment), Professor Jocelyn Alexander (Professor of Commonwealth Studies – Oxford Department of International Development) and Professor Daley (School of Geography and the Environment)
The Daley Breakfast is organized by the a team of students within the Oxford Africa Society:
Special thanks to the Africa Oxford Initiative, who donated SWAG for the first Daley Breakfast.