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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah

UNDERSTANDING WHAT RACISM & EXTREMISM LOOK LIKE & CHALLENGING BIASES BEFORE THEY BECOME EXTREME (Before they spiral down the negative axis of the Six Stages Framework- see diagram below)

In supporting individuals and organisations to understand and challenge racism it is important to explore and to be able to identify some of the beliefs, values and behaviours individuals and organisations engage in as they struggle to reformulate their views and challenge their own prejudices and biases.

The Six Stages Framework supports us to recognise different types of biases, discrimination and different stages of racism.

The BBC reported today (14th March 2024)

"Ministers have unveiled a new extremism definition under which certain groups will be blocked from government funding and meeting officials.

It will apply to, but not criminalise, groups that promote an ideology based on "violence, hatred or intolerance"."

"Under the new (UK Government) definition, which comes into force on Thursday, extremism is "the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance, that aims to:

  1. negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others; or

  2. undermine, overturn or replace the UK's system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights; or

  3. intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve the results in (1) or (2).""

If we are to redefine extremism we need to map out the different types of biases and racism and how these show up in society.

Let's be clear, extremism should not be applied to an individual or group simply because they disagree with Government policies or ideologies. If this becomes the new criteria and definition it simply allows governments to punish those who do not agree with them. It allows Governments to abuse their power and to validate their biases about those who are different. Beware of those leaders and governments who allow their biases to influence their definitions as ultimately they can themselves become the very definition of extremists.

The Six Stages Framework reminds us that leaders can exist on both the negative and the positive axis, i.e. leaders for bad and leaders for good. If we are to truly keep racism and racist ideology in check we need inclusive leaders at all different levels of society, including at government levels too.

We need governments that are aware of their biases and are able to do the work in the area of inclusion and diversity by reviewing their lenses and correcting them if they become distorted. We need Governments that are prepared to call out racism when they see it and take action to put things right. This does not mean shaming or cancelling people who show racist behaviours or use racist language. But rather educating those who need it and supporting them in their journey of understanding and changing.

It's important to identify real extremism but we have to be careful we do not drive such behaviours underground. We need to keep the doors open for conversations and for education and change. We must not "label or misdiagnose" those who are exercising their rights to speak up in the way we so often do when applying different diagnostic labels on the basis of skin colour.

The Six Stages Framework is a behavioural framework that can help individuals, organisations (and even Governments) better understand what racism is and how extremism develops and where it fits into current definitions of racism.


Key concepts underpinning the Six Stages Framework are:

– The Prejudice Racism Spectrum

– Building Bridges of Empathy

– Coming out of Caves of Privilege

Come and learn more about the Prejudice Racism Spectrum.

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The stages are designed to support individuals and organisations to identify where they are in terms of their awareness of understanding and responding to racism. It is important that as a society we appreciate that we all at different stages in our journey towards understanding and dealing with racism and promoting a more equitable society which does not discriminate according to one’s race, colour and/or appearance.

SUMMARY OF THE SIX STAGES of Understanding and Dealing with Racism (+ve and -ve axis) are as follows:


Stage – 6: Extremists/leadership

Strong racist views and work to champion them to others and recruit others to join them.

Stage – 5: Entrenched views and behaviours

Exhibit strong racist views and enjoy sharing them with others.

Stage – 4: Anger and blaming of ethnic minorities

Likely to attack and reject the views of those who are different. Extreme ways of thinking and behaving.

Stage – 3: Attacking and rejecting

Resenting time spent on race, display of outrage whilst projecting one’s own racism onto others

Stage – 2: Dismissive and avoidant

Dismissive of issues of race, pretending that racial and social injustice do not exist

Stage – 1: Unaware, silence and denial

Lack of  awareness, Ignorance, oblivious, silence and denial

Stage + 1: Unaware, silence and denial

Lack of  awareness, Ignorance, oblivious, silence and denial

Stage + 2: Dismissive and avoidant

Dismissive of issues of race, pretending that racial and social injustice do not exist

Stage + 3: Becoming aware of issues of race

Becoming more aware of differences and racism, and questioning. Recognise inequity and racism but do not understand why or what they can do about it.

Stage + 4: Open to learning

Open to learning and having meaningful conversations- challenging one’s perceptions

Stage + 5: Ability to see the bigger picture

Ability to reflect and genuinely engage. Starting to see the bigger picture around race- paradigm shift

Stage + 6: Leadership qualities

Ability to take on a leadership role in promoting racial equity and social justice. Joining with others for the greater good and for the sake of Humanity.


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Six Stages Framework Change-Makers

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©Inclusion Psychologists Limited


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