The killing of George Floyd in the US has unleashed a wave of protest around the world.
Like you, I was horrified to watch the video of a policeman with his knee on George’s neck for 8 or 9 minutes, eventually killing him.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen this occur in the US.
But racism isn’t restricted to the US. It occurs all over the world, including here in Britain and in my place of birth, Australia.
I’ve come to realise that being neutral about racism in our society makes me complicit in perpetuating it.
I won’t do that any longer.
For me, this is not a political issue. It’s a simple issue of right and wrong
What am I doing about it?
I’ve decided to do the work and get myself educated, rather than defending the status quo as I’ve done for much of my life.
I feel late to the conversation and I’m only taking my first baby steps.
In the last few weeks, I’ve started reading books and listening to interviews online by black authors and speakers describing their experience of racism.
I’ve read Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge.
I watched a video interview, How To Be An Anti-Racist with Dr Ibram Kendi. I also listened to his interview on Brene Brown’s podcast.
One either endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an anti-racist. It isn’t possible to be simply “not racist.”Dr Ibram Kendi
I read Bad Feminist, by Roxanne Gay which covers issues of sexism and race. And I’ve just started, Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis.
I’ve assembled a reading list to continue with. I’m trying to listen and learn.
What I’m finding
I’ve actually heard for years that it’s up to white people to do their own work getting educated about racism and similarly for men to get themselves educated about sexism. It’s not up to those experiencing the oppression to do that for me.
As I’ve read and listened and started doing the work, I have felt incredibly uncomfortable as I’ve confronted my own racism. I’ve found myself upset and angry, thrown way off-kilter emotionally. It’s been far harder than I anticipated it would be. I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I was unprepared for the severity. I understand why no one wants to do this work.
But I’ve only had a week or two of feeling uncomfortable. Those experiencing racism are in a constant battle against what is often an invisible and shifting enemy. If I want to be part of the change I have to do the work and feel the feelings.
I’m also seeing the ways that the racism debate is constantly being shut down.
I can’t undo my racism by reading articles in the mainstream press or by white writers.
Where is my business?
Our business consists of 12 people; 10 of them outsourced suppliers. We think of them as our team (despite being outsourced) and work closely with them on different aspects of making FP Advance what it is.
Here are our diversity stats:
- 42% male and 58% female
- At the senior executive and ownership level: 50% male and 50% female
- 83% white
Transparency is key. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we are committed to doing it. I realise it’s a late start to a long journey.