Culture3 min read

This Got Us Thinking: how do you address uncomfortable truths

At Hive Learning we’ve been hosting weekly informal talks about systemic racism, the Black Lives Matter movement and the legacy of slavery.

This got us thinking.

Sometimes during these sessions, we talk about things that might make us uncomfortable. Like how we may have benefitted from racist structures. Or confronting the fact that some of our cities were built on the proceeds of forced labour.

It’s not easy to talk about racism. Especially if we’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, or causing offence. But silence is much more damaging. It helps to acknowledge that we’re all fallible human beings and will make mistakes along the way. It’s inevitable that, when confronting our past and talking about racism in the present, some of us will feel uncomfortable and afraid of messing up.

Since we’re having these conversations, we thought you might be too. We don’t have the answers. But here are some questions and resources we’ve been pondering as part of the process.

📚The uncomfortable history we aren’t taught

Do you ever think about how hard you had to look for your own history? In the best-selling book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge discusses learning about Black history through an American lens, despite being taught in Britain. She also talks about the difficulty of finding information about Black people in Britain after the abolition of slavery and the lack of discussions about colonialism.

“The history of blackness in Britain has been a piecemeal one. For an embarrassingly long time, I didn’t even realise that black people had been slaves in Britain.” – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

You can buy Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race here.

⚔️ Examining our colonial past

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently released a video encouraging the Commonwealth to acknowledge its past and right wrongs. In the video they recognised that this would be uncomfortable, but necessary for us all to move forward. Some have criticised the couple for their comments on the Commonwealth. Whatever your views on this video, it’s important to be able to have an open and honest discussion about our past.

Why not spend 30 minutes this week reading about colonialism?

📜 Learning the full story

We don’t always get the full story behind a statue, a painting, or a historical artefact. Many statues in our towns and cities don’t include the full context behind who these figures were, meaning we don’t learn the full story.

Bristol’s museums are addressing the histories behind their pieces and giving modern audiences an unvarnished view behind these historical objects.

How much do you know about the statues that have been recently removed? Why not look them up?

✅ A challenge for your week ahead

If you feel nervous about taking part in an uncomfortable conversation to the point that you don’t feel confident saying anything, acknowledge that you’re a work in progress. If you do say something wrong, you can simply say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realise and I want to do better in the future. Would you be willing to tell me what I did wrong?”

Talk taco by @jamkoo.

This Got Us Thinking is a weekly blog that brings you easy-going nudges to think differently, do differently and experiment with how to be more inclusive. Each week, we dip into the unanswerable, nuanced and gray areas of inclusion and offer, not answers, but inklings. You can request a topic to be covered by the This Got Us Thinking series reaching out to us here.

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