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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah


Updated: Dec 8, 2023


Biases are like viruses

For the most part they go undetected

Until the symptoms show

Whether it be a 16 year old trans girl stabbed by her peers

Or George Floyd killed by a white policeman

Or the child whose school failed to make adjustments and modifications for inclusion

Or the black autistic boy failed by his Local Authority @FrancesAkinde

Or the innocent civilians shot dead- by the lone gunman or in a war

Think of a healthy tree

At the root are biases

These are tackled and dealt with as the tree grows

Interventions and actions ensure healthy green leaves and the tree flourishes

It’s not perfect but it knows that not dealing with the illness will stunt its growth

Weeding and pruning are key to its survival

Next to this tree is an unhealthy, dying tree

At the root are its biases

These are denied, ignored and they go unchecked

Illness and disease follow

Masking and turning the other way leads to toxicity

The tree slowly withers and it’s leaves start to fall off

Some pretend there isn't a problem

Some try to treat the withering tree from the top- watering its leaves

But real meaningful change does not start there

We know that real change starts with treating its roots

Watering the tree and providing interventions

We need to deal with the root cause of the problem

Not just treat the symptoms

Biases are the root cause of hate, discrimination and oppression

Discriminatory behaviours stem from biases

They manifest as symptoms as bullying, sexism, racism

These symptoms have to be treated carefully

By rooting out the biases and ensuring weeds do not form

Masquerading as the real tree

This intervention is much easier when the tree is young

It becomes harder as the tree grows and its cultures and beliefs become ingrained.

The soil around can become too acidic or too alkaline.

Your organisation or community is like a tree

How healthy is it?

What do the leaves look like and are people leaving and withering?

How are you treating the problem

Do you turn away and ignore the problem?

Do you introduce policies and practices which treat the leaves?

And pretend you are taking action when you are not.

Are you shocked at the results and the symptoms

Like people leaving and mental health issues

Is it too late to treat the roots? (you ask).

To look at the biases that give rise to these symptoms?

Hope Springs Eternal.

It’s never too late to start authentic EDI work.

But like the health tree

Careful cultivation and weeding is needed and there are no quick fixes.


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