AJ Tracey has launched a new fund aimed at supporting Black students during their time at Oxford University.
Working with St Peter’s College, the West London rapper hopes his fund will address “historic underrepresentation” at the university, providing students from underrepresented backgrounds the necessary support to help them succeed, from financial assistance to mentorship opportunities.
The AJ Tracey Fund will contribute £40,000 a year for the first three years, with the number to be reviewed after this time period.
Talking to The Guardian in a recent interview about the initiative, the 28-year-old spoke about when Stormzy was branded racist and “anti-white” due to his charitable work which saw a record number of Black Britons studying at Cambridge University.
“It’s crazy,” Tracey says. “At the end of the day, a large portion of the population is always going to have a very uneducated and misguided view on these kinds of happenings. Even if I were to say, ‘Yeah, I want to help every student, not just Black or ethnic students’, they’ll just say it’s a PR stunt.
“I think, in general, for anyone who doesn’t understand why Black people who have managed to become successful want to help Black kids, it should be self-explanatory. The whole country is catered towards white people and we’re just trying to level the playing field by helping Black kids.”
The Ladbroke Grove-hailing artist dropped out of studying criminology at London Met in order to pursue a career in music: “I truly believe that I had the potential to go [to Oxford or Cambridge],” he says. “But it was just understood that if you’re from an impoverished upbringing or ethnic background it’s very hard to get in. Even if you’re intelligent, even if you know you can get those grades, it just feels out of reach. Unfortunately, the society that we live in, you know, it doesn’t favour people from a background like me. It’s not a sob story, it just is what it is.”
He added: “I don’t want to be on the outside, trying to tell people what to do with the establishment. I need to be inside trying to make a difference.”