Black people are more than racism
Why I keep saying no when I’m repeatedly asked to write, speak and train about racism.
This year I have written 9 blog posts on my personal blog. They have covered a number of topics including: how charities can influence policy, how to keep healthy while working from home, how visiting the sea helps me with grief, how lack of transparency can reinforce pay gaps, relationships and why being connected to nature matters.
It’s a fairly random list. My interests are wide and varied. My writing is informed by my life. I’m currently a charity strategist who also dabbles in policy. On the side, I do interesting consultancy and speaking work which has a common theme of working towards a fairer and more humane society. It’s informed by my experience in education senior leadership, my pervious work at an education and youth think tank, my time as a maths teacher and my other interests in mental health, documentary story telling and human relationships.
Who we are shapes our perspective
My perspective on life is shaped by my professional expertise but it’s also shaped by how I experience the world given my personal background. We are all more than the sum total of our job roles. Our personal lives (past and present) affect how we show up and interact at work.
This year I’ve written 9 articles on my personal blog. One has been about race.
I wrote about how Repeated exposure to racism is trauma. I wrote it quickly. I wrote it with a weary sadness. I wrote at a time where worldwide there were inescapable images seemingly everywhere that reminded people of police brutality and anti-Blackness. I wrote it to get the thoughts out of my head and heart and onto a page so that I could forget it and move more lightly in the world. I wrote it for other Black people who felt the same so they knew they weren’t alone and could show it to other people in their lives if they wanted to.
Radio 4, women’s hour
The blog post took on a life of its own.
I was asked to go onto Radio 4 women’s hour to speak about how parents should talk to their children about racism (particularly in light of the Black Lives Matter protests). It was a good interview sensitively done.
My first point was that it was actually quite annoying for main stream media (and other organisations) to generally only find Black people when they wanted to discuss racism or repeated dehumanisation of other Black people. I have views on other things.
I have zero interest in doing lots of speaking and writing and consultancy solely about race. It’s important work. It’s useful work. It’s good work but it’s not work for me. It doesn’t make my heart sing or my spirit soar. Like I said, repeated exposure to racism is traumatic.
Since appearing on Radio 4 and writing Exposure to Racism is Trauma I’ve been asked to appear on panels, and write articles and do consultancy related to race and racism.
I’ve said no. I will probably keep saying no. Now I can also link to this blog post to save me time when I decline.
“But you are writing abut race now…”
Yep. This blog is my personal bit of the internet where I can control what I say and how I say it. There is no editor to soften it. No copy editor to write a click bait sensationalist headline. No sceptical audience member, reluctant team member or controversial fellow panellist to have to debate my humanity with or get into Devil’s Advocate discussions about whether racism and Anti-Blackness exist.
Loads of views and expertise about loads of stuff
I’ve written 9 blog posts this year. 1 has been about race. I think I wrote 18 blog posts last year, 3 were about race. Generally less that 20% (1 article out of every 5) of what I write is specifically about race. Although, of course, my entire life lived as a Black woman in the UK will shape many aspects of my world view.
In recent times I’ve consulted for or been invited to share my views via various organisations including The Guardian, ITN news, The National Theatre, Chartered College of Teaching, The Difference, Teacher Development Network, Birmingham Literature Festival and Radio 4. One of those was about racism. The others covered the arts, human side of leadership, education, sexuality and mental health.
In my day job I’ve appeared on a variety of panels or been invited to give my expert opinion about social mobility, flexible working, STEM (science, technology, maths and engineering) education, and the outdoors and nature as a public resource.
I wrote a book, The Unexpected Leader. It was about the human side of leadership. I have a lot of views about a lot of stuff and a wide variety of expertise which I get paid to share.
People who do great (paid) anti-racist and inclusion work
I generally like to offer solutions where I can. Some people and organisations really to want to create a fairer more equal world. I’m not the person to approach for consultancy and speaking etc about racism. If you are serious about meaningful inclusion work in your organisation with external consultants who can also specifically address anti-Blackness from an informed perspective below are some excellent people I’d recommend you work with.
Aisha Thomas. Aisha is an educator, keynote speaker and presenter. Aisha is an Assistant Principal for Inclusion at an inner city secondary school in Bristol. She offers keynote training, curriculum consultation and CPD training. More info about her services and contact details are here.
Bilal Harry Khan. Bilal is a speaker, facilitator and host. He specialises in diversity and challenging assumptions and has worked in schools as well as with partners such as KPMG, Virgin Atlantic, Boots and Barclays. Find out more about Bilal’s work on his website www.bilalharrykhan.com.
Dr Muna Abdi. Muna is an education consultant with a decade’s experience in education, research and community engagement. She has worked with organisations across private, public and third sector. Find out more about Dr Abdi and her services here.
David McQueen. David is an entrepreneur, professional speaker and executive coach. He specialises in presentation and communication skills but also does select culture change and facilitation work with a range of corporate and third sector clients including Barnados, HSBC and RBS. Info about David’s Culture Add work is here. David can be contacted via davidmcqueen.co.uk.
Nick Dennis. Nick is currently Director of Studies at an independent school in Hertfordshire and a school governor. He’s presented/co-written a series of documentary films for the World History Project. He is a Fellow of the Schools History Project, the UK’s leading historical education and curriculum design think-tank. Contact him via his website nickdennis.com
Mahlon Evans-Sinclair. Mahlon is a diversity and inclusion facilitator with ten years teaching, training and leadership experience. He has curriculum development expertise and has worked with a range of public sector, non-profit and corporate clients. Mahlon is currently based in Canada but also works in the UK and internationally. He can be contacted via animaleadership.com.
Links and resources
Radio 4 Woman’s Hour 2nd June 2020. Segment is first 18 minutes. I start speaking from 07:34
Want to ensure that there is diversity in governors, school leadership and staff teams?
Nick Dennis has written some helpful blogs .
A few years ago I wrote about why I generally won’t speak specifically about race on panels with majority white audiences. A few of my views have changed but the general sentiment remains. The blog post also links to some interesting people to follow on social media who talk about racism.
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If you are interested in the human side of leadership then my book The Unexpected Leader is for you.