Conversations about racial justice can be uncomfortable, but having these conversations can help to empower us to empower others. Hannah Olarewaju, Diversity And Inclusion Consultant for Diversity Marketplace presents training sessions to explore this issue. We attended one of Hannah’s sessions to find out more. 

So what did we find out? During the session we talked about allyship, unconscious bias, gatekeeping and microaggressions, which can result in barriers to inclusion. We discussed the need to embrace diversity and how groups and organisations can do things differently, if needed. People have wide and varied experiences, knowledge and passions, which need to be embraced and valued inorder to create an inclusive environment. 

We can all ‘unlearn’ behaviours, we can share our knowledge with others and become an ally by promoting inclusion consciously inorder to benefit others.  We can create an  inclusive culture and be aware of any assumptions we may have about others and embrace, rather than trivialise, differences. 

So how can we do things differently in order to make experiences better for everybody? We can be more aware of the diversity within our organisations, groups and communities and not make assumptions. We can have relevant conversations and be committed to make the changes we want to see happen. We can ensure that we are proactive rather than reactive during conversations and share knowledge. Allyship refers to being committed to actively promoting inclusion by being intentional, positive and conscious about what we do and how we treat others. 

We need to keep communicating, be ready to learn and treat people as individuals. Individuals need to feel valued and safe to speak and act freely as their authentic selves. Individuals need to feel safe to report discriminatory behaviour and know that they will be listened to and their viewpoint taken seriously and action taken. Organisations and communities need to be progressive and not stuck in ways that can result in individuals feeling excluded and unvalued, with their voices not being heard. 

Systemic discrimination and privilege can result when organisation’s guidelines do not take into account individual differences. When power is not let go this can lead to ‘gatekeeping’, which can prevent individuals and groups from reaching their full potential.

Unconscious bias can develop from experiences as we are growing up which can influence how we relate to others when we are adults. This can result in microaggressions towards others who are different to ourselves. With consistency great changes can happen. 

There are terms that might benefit from looking at. As part of the session we explored associated  terms. Here are some terms that we considered and discussed – 

Racial Abuse – Any form of abuse towards groups and individuals based on ethnicity, race and/or cultural background. 

Organisational Culture There can be hidden behaviours within organisations, as opposed to ones openly stated, which can result in discrimination, particularly when there is a lack of diversity in, for example, the board of directors. 

Non racist Actively not engaging in racism, for example, not getting involved in racist jokes. 

Anti racist – Actively challenging racist behaviour i.e. stopping racist jokes. 

Colour blind – May stem from good intentions but differences may not be seen and racism not challenged. 

Unconscious bias – Unconsciously stereotyping groups or individuals.

Privilege – Benefits accorded to one group over another. 

Fragility – Unable to cope with racism and its impact – either lived or observed.

Allyship – Efforts by groups or individuals to advance the interests of marginalised groups and individuals, both in society and the workplace. 

Microaggressions – Indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalised group, such as a racial or ethnic minority. 

Gatekeeping – The activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something. 

If you would like to find out more about racial justice here is some additional reading –

Race, equality And Justice In The Charity Sector By The Joseph Rowntree Foundation