Sorry guys, you can't dismiss it that easily but you wouldn't be here if you were.
Racism is a big topic at the moment, can you believe what's becoming trendy these days? Sustainability, mental health, anti-racism- we are living in some eye opening times and if we don't get on the train we are being called out and unfriended. And so we should be, setting boundaries on what you will and won't accept doesn't just apply to our friends and family it applies to what we choose to believe and what we want to buy.
As a small business owner I am having to think about where I stand as a business on the topic of Racism and what I can do about it so that my business is mindful of the unconscious bias and oppression of the black community.
As an individual, I care deeply about the unfair treatment of our black brothers and sisters and those in other cultural groups who are affected by racism everyday.
Growing up in Australia, racism was and is very much the 'norm', Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander's are disadvantaged from non-indigenous. The history of the genocide that happened to our first people when the British invaded in the 1700's isn't taught in Schools. Instead we celebrate the day Captain Cook landed on the shores of Botany Bay on the 26 January 1788 and call it Australia Day- little is cared about those who were killed, who's children were then taken from them (known as the Stolen Generation) and who weren't seen as human beings until the 1970's.
Australia's black identity has been lost, the government has chosen to cover up their mess by throwing money at the aboriginal people which has only progressed in a loss of purpose and culture amongst many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is far worse than non-indigenous, with higher rates of unemployment, suicide and shorter life expectancy (ABS, 2018). Incarceration rates are significantly higher (15x) than non-indigenous peoples making up 38% of the entire prison population while only 3% of Australia's population (2016).
There is a public health campaign in Australia called Close the Gap which aims at closing the gap between the health rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous people. You can view the 2020 Close the Gap report here.
So far, only 200,000 people have pledged support to the program when the Australian population almost make up 25 million.
Adam Goodes, an Australian Football League champion received a significant amount of racism during his last years of professional football. You can watch his documentary here.
For businesses looking for some information on a proactive approach to Racism in the workplace can obtain some great tools and statistics from the 'Let's Talk Race: A guide on how to conduct a conversation about racism' document.
As for England, where I currently reside. I have experienced Unconscious bias myself, looking for work in a male dominated industry (Health and Safety) proved very hard, however women of colour in the same position as me experienced this bias even more. There was one lady I made friends with, she had been looking for a job in Occupation Hygiene for months and was getting interviews but was told she had no experience, while I eventually got a job (which ended in sexual harassment) she was still looking for someone to give her that chance.
The problem with Unconscious bias is that it's hard to argue that people are doing it, even discrimination comes with its own set of rules. In the workplace you are really only protected by law if you have worked for the company for some time. Many employers set up probation schemes (there is actually nothing regarding probation in Employment Law) leaving employees with very little to no protection if they choose to not extend their probation period or offer permanent employment. Unconscious bias kicks in when businesses are looking for people with same interests and ways of thinking, which doesn't offer diversity or innovation.
There are a number of charities and organisations supporting anti-racism in the United Kingdom;
- Show Racism the Red Card is one of them and offer educations services to schools and to teachers.
- Race on the Agenda (ROTA) an organisation that support Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, become a member (it's free) and help change policy and give a voice to those in need.
- Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) a Scottish based organisation, support their work by: Educating yourself, Consider your own attitude, Speak out about Racism, Support others, be your own activist. You can show support to the by following them on social media and sharing their posts, and sharing their publications and resources with your boss or school.
We all have a part to play in the fight against racism, take each day as it comes and do the best you can. Don't feel pressured by social media to do it all today. Changing your attitudes and those around us take time with lots of learning and unlearning.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016 (August 2018), Cat. No. 3238.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
3 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Child Protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (August 2017).
4 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2015-2017 (November 2018), Cat. No. 3302.0.55.003, ABS, Canberra.
5 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2017, Intentional Self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (September 2018), Cat. No. 3303.0, ABS, Canberra.
6 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Prisoners in Australia, 2018 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoner Characteristics (December 2018), Cat. No. 4517.0, ABS, Canberra.
7 Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Chapter 4: Employment Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2018 (2018).
8 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia –Stories from the Census, 2016 (2017) Cat. No. 2071.0, ABS, Canberra.
9 Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2019 (2019) p 81.