Social Change

Recently there has been a lot of online content for people to learn and educate themselves regarding Black Lives Matter and racism. Some have resonated with me and so thought I would share.

Levels of racism

I came across this on Instagram, linking to a blog post from a couple of years ago [1], which was in turn partially influenced by an article published in 2000 [2]. These sources state that there are different levels of racism:

  • institutionalised;
  • interpersonal; and
  • internalised.

Institutionalised racism manifests itself in two ways: materially and in access to power. Materially through education, housing, and access to medical facilities; and in access to power through information access (one’s own history), resources (wealth), and voice (voting rights, government representation, media representation).

Interpersonal racism is defined as prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice being unconscious bias or assumptions behind another’s abilities, motives, or intentions. Discrimination being differential actions according to another’s race. This level of racism can be both intentional and unintentional. It can be a lack of respect (offering poor service), suspicion (shopkeepers’ vigilance), or dehumanisation (police brutality, hate crimes).

Internalised racism is acceptance by those marginalised of negative messages of their own abilities, worth, and limitations. It can be embracing “whiteness” (adapting hair colour or skin tone) or self-devaluation (acceptance of racial slurs as nicknames, rejection of own culture or language).

The article goes on to discuss an allegory linked to the above. It ends stating that institutionalised racism is the most fundamental of the three levels, that once this level of racism is addressed then the other levels may cure themselves over time. I found this really interesting, and although not easy to action in the real world, makes total sense. For instance, for a company to change it makes sense for the CEO or upper management to ignite and lead change from the top down. It would indeed be quicker than a new employee trying to ignite change from the bottom up.

And some companies are leading the charge on this. For example, Lego has pulled advertising of police-related toys and has donated $4m to fight racism [3]. Ben and Jerry’s has also spoken out and released a written statement supporting Black Lives Matter [4]. Twitter practically censored a message by the US president, disallowing the message to be liked or replied to [5].

Social change

Companies have a lot more bargaining power and money, but what can we do as individuals? I came across this on Instagram as well: a mapping exercise that helps us identify our roles in a social change ecosystem [6]. The article states that this exercise can be helpful to re-align ourselves when we feel lost, confused, and uncertain in order to bring our fullest selves to the causes and movements that matter to us.

The roles are:

  • weavers: connecting people, places, organisations, ideas, and movements;
  • experimenters: innovating and pioneering, taking risks;
  • front line responders: address community crises by organising resources, networks, and messages;
  • visionaries: generate hopes;
  • builders: develop and implement ideas;
  • caregivers: nurture and nourish people around them;
  • disrupters: take uncomfortable and risky actions to shake up the status quo and raise awareness;
  • healers: recognise and tend to the generational and current traumas caused;
  • storytellers: craft and share stories, cultures, and experiences; and
  • guides: teach, counsel, and advise.

A more detailed list of the meanings of the roles can be found here. Very insightful and thought provoking. The post was written in response to COVID-19, but the roles in this social change ecosystem can practically apply to any rapid response context.

There is a lot more out there, but these are the articles and posts that resonated with me the most. Feeling safe is a privilege. A privilege that I have experienced in some parts of my life, but others have never experienced at all. I am listening and I am learning.

In my research I have found some anti racism organisations and charities based in the UK, that can also be donated to:

  • Stand Up To Racism: an organisation that organises marches against racism;
  • Black Lives Matter UK: set up in 2016 the organisation fights for racial and social justice in the UK;
  • Runnymede Trust: this charity is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank, generating intelligence to challenge race inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement;
  • SARI (Stand Against Racism and Inequality): this charity provides support and advice to people who have experienced racism or hate crimes and also delivers anti-hate based behaviour and cultural awareness to schools in the UK;
  • Race Equality First: this charity provides support, advice, and leadership for people who face discrimination, harassment, hate crime and disadvantage; and
  • Discrimination Law Association: this non-profit network brings together discrimination law practitioners, policy experts, academics, and concerned individuals and organisations to help shape policy and influence positive change.



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