This discussion guide is designed to get you and your colleagues learning and talking about racism and the Black British experience. This guide forms part of a weekly discussion group series that we created for the UK’s Black History Month, which runs throughout October. If you found this guide useful or would like to share some feedback, get in touch with us here.
When the events of summer 2020 unfolded — the murder of George Floyd and the protests for justice in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement — author and journalist Reni-Eddo Lodge became the first Black British author to top the UK’s official book chart. While the catalyst happened on American soil, people recognized the parallels with the Black British experience and systemic racism in the UK.
Published in 2017, Eddo-Lodge’s award-winning Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is one of the most influential books on racism in the UK. It fills in the knowledge gaps left behind by the British education system of Black British history and tackles subjects like the inextricable link between race and class.
Watch an interview with Eddo-Lodge before discussing with your group, you’ll unpack what it means to reckon with racism in the UK.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Time: 1 hour (plus an additional 50 mins to watch the resource)
Resources: Key resource, discussion questions, anything you usually need for any remote joiners
This guided discussion will:
⚡ Highlight the education gap in the UK on racism and Black British history
⚡ Cover common objections when talking about racism, like ”you’re being divisive”
⚡ Prompt your team to explore social issues that don’t directly affect them
⚡ Challenge everyone to think about how we can close the gap between wanting to be antiracist and taking antiracist actions
Key resource: Interview with Reni Eddo-Lodge (50 mins)
One week before
✅ Send out an email and calendar invitation including the link and discussion questions.
One day before
✅ Send a reminder to everyone to watch the key resource before the session. Note down some of your own thoughts which you can share to prompt others to do the same.
On the day
- Welcome everyone and introduce the key resource and discussion topic, which is Emma Watson’s interview with Reni Eddo-Lodge on her book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (3 mins) ✋ Before you begin, remind everyone that we are all learning and to respect each other’s comfort. No one should be expected to know the right answer, dig up personal examples or speak for any group they’re part of. Encourage the group to bear in mind that everyone is at different starting points in this topic, too.
- Ask everyone for their initial thoughts from watching the video. What resonated with them most? (5 mins)
- Work through the discussion questions. Be mindful of the time and nudge the conversation on to the next topic when someone stops speaking. If people need more encouragement to speak, start by sharing your thoughts. (50 mins) 💡 Eddo-Lodge and Watson talk about the betrayal of being taught that we live in a post-racial society. Were you taught this idea? If so, how were you taught this?💡 Have you heard someone denying racism? Why might someone think or say this?
💡 Can you think of any modern examples of jingoism (defined by Eddo-Lodge as “excessive, uncritical patriotism”)? How does jingoism help people deny or contribute to racism?
💡 Are there any “isms” (e.g. racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, classism) where you’re able to “luxuriate in passivity” if you choose to?
💡 How can people empower themselves to figure out the “practical application” instead of asking, “what can I do?”.
- Wrap up by thanking everyone for attending and for their input. Let everyone know that they are welcome to continue the conversation in your company’s social channels and to share feedback on the discussion with you. (3 mins)
✅ Send a follow-up email to thank participants and to re-share the resource and questions with anyone who couldn’t attend.
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