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Diversity and Inclusion

#1: Beverly Daniel-Tatum on passive racism vs active racism

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.

Why we need to talk about this

Most of us find race and racism deeply uncomfortable to talk about. But here’s the thing: not talking about it doesn’t make it go away.

Did you know that talking about race and racism can make us feel energized? It might seem surprising but psychologist, educator and author Beverly Daniel-Tatum says that this is because we put in so much energy into not noticing.

“But you don’t feel that at first. The thing you feel at first is uncomfortable. And so you have to make a commitment to push past the discomfort. And I think that’s part of the problem because I can’t tell you any way to do it other than feel uncomfortable at the beginning”.

Beverly Daniel-Tatum, psychologist, author & educator

In a 57-minute interview that you’ll watch and then discuss in your group, you’ll discover the many facets of racism. In it, Daniel-Tatum explains the difference between passive vs active racism using an analogy of a moving walkway that particularly resonates. It clears up any confusion on what racism actually is and what is required from all of us to break the cycle of racism.

Let's do this

Here’s what you’ll need:
Participants: 2+
Time: 1 hour (plus an additional hour to watch the resource)
Difficulty: Easy
Resources: Key resource, discussion questions, anything you usually need for any remote joiners

This guided discussion will:

⚡ Define the difference between passive racism and active racism

⚡ Probably cause discomfort — but also help push you through it, too

⚡ Reveal why we find it so hard to talk about race and racism

⚡ Give your team the chance to get vulnerable and share your perspectives

Key resource: Interview with Beverly Daniel-Tatum (57 mins)

🔗 Link:

Questions to think about and discuss
💡 Why do we quickly move past disturbing video evidence of racist police brutality? (or why have we in the past at least)? Did you watch the video of George Floyd’s murder? Why or why not? Do you believe it will be different this time?

💡 Did you understand the difference between active racism and passive racism? Can identify any ways you’ve been (perhaps unknowingly) passively racist?

💡 Did Daniel-Tatum’s interactive “color silent” discussion resonate with you? Do you have an early memory of a race-related incident that was taboo to speak of then?

💡 What’s your level of discomfort talking about race, on a scale of 1-10? Let me know if that changes at the end of these 6 weeks 😏

💡 What do you think of the “double-edged sword” of affirmative action/tokenism that Daniel-Tatum talks about? Have you ever felt resentment or imposter syndrome about this?

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

  1. Welcome everyone and introduce the key resource and discussion topic, which is Beverly Daniel-Tatum’s interview on the topics discussed in her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (3 mins)
  2. Ask everyone for their initial thoughts from watching the video. What resonated with them most? (5 mins)
  3. 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)
  4. 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 hot take on Beverly Daniel-Tatum’s bestselling book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? to find out more about what passive racism and active racism are.

Inclusion Works by Hive Learning

Inclusion Works from Hive Learning is a group-based peer learning program designed to create large ripples of change across your organization. We give people the tools to make small changes to their daily behaviors and help them rapidly learn, relearn, and respond to the changing world around them.

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This resource was taken from our Inclusion Works program, which was created with a network of more than +100 diverse contributors and advisers. We learn from, amplify and cite creators of different races, ethnicities, genders and cognitive styles and continually work to represent all dimensions of diversity.