This discussion guide is designed to get you and your colleagues learning and talking about racism. This guide forms part of a six-week Black Lives Matter Discussion Group series that we had internally at Hive Learning. We’ve published this guide so you can use it to have honest, uncomfortable and entirely necessary conversations about racism with your team, too.
“I’m not racist.”
How many times have you heard someone else declare that? How many times have you thought or said it?
As we learnt from Beverly Daniel-Tatum’s interview in the first of this Black Lives Matter Discussion Group series, there is no such thing as being “passively antiracist” or “not racist”.
We need to be antiracist.
Historian, writer and Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University Dr Ibram X. Kendi wrote the New York Times bestseller, How to be an Antiracist. This discussion guide unpacks Kendi’s views of antiracism as shared in Dr Brené Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us.
When people typically say, “I am not racist”, it is in response to someone challenging something that just they did or said that indeed probably was racist… In order to be antiracist, we have to be willing to admit the times in which we’re being racist. By contrast, in order to be racist, we never admit the times in which we’re being racist.
Ibram X. Kendi on Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us
Here’s what you’ll need:
Time: 1 hour (plus an additional hour to listen to the resource)
Resources: Key resource, discussion questions, anything you usually need for any remote joiners
This guided discussion will:
⚡ Get you thinking about what it means to be antiracist
⚡ Show us how “confessing” racist things that we have done, thought or accepted is part of our antiracism journey
⚡ Ask your team to challenge how we “personalize” disparities between racial groups by attributing outcomes to supposed group behaviors
⚡ Encourage us to think about we can be antiracist
Key resource: Interview with Dr Ibram X. Kendi and Dr Brené Brown (63 mins)
🎧 Listen here
Questions to think about and discuss
💡 What is antiracism? Had you heard about it before? What do you think about it? Is it a comfortable or uncomfortable idea?
💡 Can you think of an example — big or small — where you have done something antiracist?
💡 Who do you think should do antiracist work? Does it depend on anything?
💡 Kendi talks about ‘confessing’ things that are racist. Have you ever done, thought or accepted something that you later confessed was racist? What emotions do you feel when you think about the prospect of confessing? (antiracist confession is pointing out attitudes, practices that you uphold, the world you see around you etc. as racist)
💡 Kendi talks about how we need to stop ‘personalizing’ disparities between racial groups. In other words, we should stop attributing outcomes for groups to their supposed behaviors. For example, a disproportionate number of Black Americans have died from COVID-19 and many assumed it was because they weren’t taking the virus or precautions seriously. This turned out to be false and the assumption follows racist logic.
💡 What sort of things could we do personally to interrupt ‘racist’ thinking or attitudes that have this effect?
💡 There’s a point in the podcast where Brené Brown points out that the shame that comes along with processing a racist world and facing our part in it is not the same type of shame as being publically shamed for being an overt racist. Kendi seems quietly like, “mmn uhuh shame lady”. What do you think about this suggestion from Brown?
💡 Does doing antiracist work make you a better person?
💡 Can you think of an example — big or small — where you can do something antiracist in the near future?
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 listen to 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 Dr Brené Brown’s interview with Dr Ibram X. Kendi. (3 mins)
- Ask everyone for their initial thoughts from listening to the podcast. 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)
- 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.
Want to learn more? Check out our pathway, How to be antiracist, from our Inclusion Works programme.
Six tiny ways to build trust
Academic Brené Brown's research found that trust isn't earned through sweeping, grand gestures. Trust is built in very small...
Is choosing to be silent a form of privilege?
It's natural to feel uncomfortable talking about difficult subjects. But is choosing comfort and avoiding difficult conversations...
Help your whole team to be their whole selves
Most workplaces have some sort of in-group. And everyone is aware — consciously or subconsciously — of what defines who's...
What stops you from talking about diversity?
Talking about diversity still makes many of us uncomfortable. But starting these discussions is important.