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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah

If Racism Was A Virus…

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Consultation document: I would welcome your thoughts on this book/article. Comments down below or Email:

I have been working on this book/article and I’ve decided to publish it as a consultation document. The full document is attached below.

I hope this will enable discussion and consideration of the issues especially around expanding our thinking around racism.

In writing this article I am trying to highlight the endemic nature of racism. I hope that this will enable people to see the range and depth of what’s actually going on in relation to racism and by so doing generate creative ideas for dealing with the issues.

It is my hope that this article and the Six Stages Diversity Framework supports individuals and organisations to engage/ start the process of learning how to reflect on their beliefs, thinking and behaviours in this area. It’s only by so doing that we can support and enable organisations to challenge their own practice and change their organisational culture.

We need to stop burying our heads in the sand and pretending that racism (and hate crime in general) is not a problem. We need to stop pretending that we do not have problems as a society (and globally) relating to racial injustice and racial discrimination. The problems exist and we cannot wait until we reach a crisis point before acting.

This article/book is a call to action for individuals and organisations to engage more actively in these issues if you’re not doing so already.

Whilst it’s alright for us to talk about anti-racism action plans and to say we stand for zero tolerance of racism but often the truth is that organisations and individuals have no understanding of their behaviours. We have seen this not only within the metropolitan police force, but also the judiciary service, schools/education system and many more organisations.

So how can we have zero tolerance if there’s no understanding of the behaviours of individuals within an organisation. SMART targets call for an accurate assessment of your starting point within organisations and this calls for us all to remove those masks of tolerance and be honest about what is going on within our organisations in relation to racism, misogyny and homophobia.

How do you have zero tolerance when the entire institution seems to be racist? For too long some individuals and organisations have been hiding behind these “masks of tolerance” and we have to call this out as we cannot allow this to continue.

We must not continue to pay lip service in this area and fool ourselves into believing that we are making progress when in most cases we are not.

The evidence is there and clear to see- it’s in the outcomes of ethnic minority children in education, the disparities in the treatment of black and ethnic minorities by the police/judiciary system and the disparities in health outcomes et cetera. We can fool ourselves into believing that within our organisations racism is not a problem, that we do not discriminate or that we have zero tolerance of racism when all the while the outcomes of ethnic minorities are telling a different story.

Some people may view the Six Stages Framework of Understanding and Dealing with Everyday Racism as a radical approach but surely we need radical approaches if we are to make any progress in this area. In 1999 I edited a journal on Challenging Racism and Inequality in Education and Child psychology. Many of the problems which we referred to in that journal continue to be a problem today. Why is it that we continue to make very small progress in combating racism?

It does feel rather like we are going through the motions, sleepwalking through the challenges we are faced with in the area of anti-racism and pretending that we’re making progress when the evidence is there and clear to see which points to very slow progress in this area. If racism was a virus the slow progress we are making would have resulted in the virus causing untold damage and wiping out millions of people.

I am asking us to actively move from conversations around intention and much more into action and to treat racism in the same way that we would treat other life-threatening viruses – “as if our lives depended on it”.

Let’s rally together in the same way that we did with COVID-19 and come up with solutions. The first step is to stop denying that racism exists and to stop turning our backs on the damage that racism is causing within society and globally.

Racism is a poison which runs through society and just because we can’t always see its footprint and devastating impact on individuals, organisations and communities does not mean that racism does not exist nor that that racism is not a problem.

It’s time to review and rethink what you’re doing in this area and I hope that reading this article and engaging in the discussions to come will support individuals and organisation in doing this.

Check out my other book:

M’gadzah, S.H. (2022). Understanding and Dealing with Racism- The Six Stages framework. Swan & Horn

Check out my free seminars on Eventbrite

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