Racial discrimination has been a long-standing issue that has plagued societies across the world. The effects of racial discrimination are far-reaching and can lead to economic, social, and political disparities.
“The scientific pursuit of race was not to understand the difference in our bodies. This classification system was used to justify why we led such different lives. It presupposed that we behaved differently because we were different biologically. It found answers in our bodies to questions that existed outside them.” Akarsh Nalawade
“No country is immune from intolerance, nor free of hate,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
And no person, I’d say, is immune from intolerance, nor free of hate.
Which brings us to our two tracks to dismantle racism.
Track 1 – Individual Efforts to End Racial Discrimination
This track is our personal/individual efforts to end racism. Track one includes:
- “When we encounter people who don’t look like us, the first question we ask ourselves is — are they the same as us?” says Akarsh Nalawade.
- This is a recipe for bias and means we have to acknowledge that and ditch our very real biases.
- And it means being persistent and tenacious with ourselves, knowing “we are terrible at collecting evidence that challenges our own beliefs” Akarsh Nalawade.
- We need to consciously assess people on things that matter instead of things that don’t, just like how much melanin their skin has.
- Things that matter include chemistry (“does the person “fit” with you and your team”), competence (“is the person very good at what they do”), and character (things like integrity), says the epically wonderful Tyler Merritt in his equally epically wonderful book “I take my coffee black” (one of my favourite reads from 2022).
“We are all a bit inbred. The world was already a melting pot, long before today’s advent of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. Go back to where you came from? We already have.” Akarsh Nalawade.
Track 2 – Systemic and Structural Change to End Racism
Track two is our efforts to end racism by focusing on systemic and structural change. “We must. dismantle discriminatory structures” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Track two includes:
- Being on the lookout for policies, practices, rules, and laws that are inherently unfair, discriminatory, and/or racist.
- Looking for ways to practice business not as usual, but rather taking an anti-racist, equity-centred approach says Trudi Lebron. After all, “it’s not business if it’s not personal.”
- Examining our company’s culture. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, “culture emerges whenever there is prolonged interaction,” says Trudi.
- Trudi writes that capitalism and racism are “conjoined twins,” given the history of colonialism.
- And we need to examine the roots of capitalistic systems, which include acknowledging our unearned privilege. For example, in the U.S. it’s “disparity by design” given the fact that one’s postal code and race are unfortunately a huge predictor of success or lack of it. (Trudi)
“Race isn’t real. The illusion of the European default powered by our intuition-driven brains, supplemented by confirmation bias, the destiny instinct, our obsession with “racial” purity, and our innate inability to see the effects of compounding, make us feel that race is real.” Akarsh Nalawade.
As you work towards dismantling racism, today, tomorrow, and beyond, all the while, dear reader, as Trudi Lebron puts it so beautifully, please give yourself grace as you “struggle to change and live in the world as it is.”
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Read the entire article, Race Isn’t Real, Racism Is by Akarsh Nalawade.
- Read some more: Learning in honour of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples part one, two, and three
- Read Tyler Merritt’s beautiful book “I take my coffee black”
- Read Trudi Lebron’s “The Antiracist Business book”
Learn some more
- Regular readers will recognize this video, which I think we can’t view too many times.
- Share this post with friends and colleagues and discuss. Come up with what you can do to combat racism on both tracks.
Is your organization and/or team interested in doing online, on-demand training courses? I’m doing some research and I’d love to chat. Please feel free to reach out to me. I’m standing by all ears.