Discrimination Against Fat People is So Endemic, Most of Us Don’t Even Realize It’s Happening

When we think of prejudice and discrimination, most of us tend to think of overt attacks, harassment, or discriminatory behavior. Blatant examples of prejudice do still occur with depressing frequency, but for most members of stigmatized groups, it is not these experiences that shape their daily lives. Rather, belonging to a socially stigmatized group means traveling through a world that is rife with multiple small, sometimes subtle or apparently inconsequential reminders of your devalued status, known as microaggressions.

As a weight stigma researcher, I focus on the experiences of fat people (many fat rights activists prefer the word “fat” and use it as a descriptive terms and not as an insult) but microaggressions define the lived experience of all groups devalued by society. Microaggressions can come from anywhere at any time. For a fat person, this might be:

  • When they get on a bus and the person sitting next to an empty seat scowls at them or pointedly places their bag on the seat;
  • People watching them while they’re eating in a restaurant or checking out the contents of their trolley in the supermarket;
  • A fat joke on TV or in a film;
  • A slimmer friend asking if she “looks fat in this”;
  • Hearing a group of children making fun of them;
  • Or even wondering whether they will be taken seriously when they go to the doctor with a sprained ankle, or just told to go away and lose some weight.

If you’re not a member of a stigmatised group, you might think that most of these examples sound relatively minor and could be easily ignored. But while any individual incident may be minor, it is the totality of stigma that defines our existence.

The cost of hostile environments

The pervasive hostile environment that marginalised people find themselves in serves as a source of constant physical and psychological stress. The body’s acute stress response involves the production of stress hormones and changes in cardiovascular, immune and neurological systems to deal with the threat.

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This is an adaptive response in the short term – that is, it aids with survival. But chronic exposure to stress is associated with increased rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even some cancers. This is not limited to fat people. These findings are consistent when looking at people belonging to racial minorities, LGBTQ individuals and many others.

Critically, the harms associated with a hostile environment occur even in the absence of actual stigmatising incidents – stigmatised individuals go through their daily life anticipating, fearing, expecting and preparing for these events. This consumes an enormous amount of mental and emotional energy and is itself a form of chronic stress. Hostile environments also contribute indirectly to long-term health and life outcomes via impacts on educational and economic achievement.

Recognizing stigma

Microaggressions against fat people are so pervasive and normalised in modern society that people, even fat people, may not recognise them as stigmatising at all. The sometimes ambiguous nature of microaggressions means that the target may be unsure of the intent or underlying meaning, wondering if that person was actually stigmatising them or not, making it difficult to respond. What is more, fat stigma is so entrenched that many fat people are complicit in their own stigmatisation, believing that they deserve it, or that the perpetrator was just stating a fact (“fat people are ugly and disgusting”).

On the other hand, if they do challenge the stigma, at best, they may be told to ignore it; at worst, their experiences are invalidated. Victims of microaggressions are told they are just imagining the slight, that they are overly sensitive or even paranoid, or that they simply need to develop a sense of humour. Fat people may even be told to lose weight if they don’t like it. Most people would never tell a member of another stigmatised group that they should change themselves if they don’t want to be discriminated against.

Most of us like to think of ourselves as unprejudiced. We would never harrass a fat person in the street, beat them up, or give them inferior service in a shop.

But children as young as three exhibit anti-fat attitudes. They are not born with these beliefs – they are picking them up from the cues in their environment, for example from the attitudes and behaviours of parents and caregivers, or from ubiquitous anti-fat messaging and stereotyping in kids’ cartoons. If we genuinely want to be part of a kind and decent society, if we want our children to grow up in that world, it is up to us not to let hostility go unchallenged. Oppression comes in many forms, and we all have a role to play in addressing it.

By:

Angela Meadows does not work for, consult,own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Source: https://theconversation.com/

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Critics:

This type of discrimination can take a number of forms, ranging from refusing to hire someone because they are considered to be too short or too tall, to treating overweight and underweight individuals with disdain. There aren’t currently any specific anti-discrimination laws that have been put in place to prohibit sizeism, despite the issue being extremely prevalent. Sizeist stereotypes (such as “overweight people are lazy” or “tall people can play basketball”) are often ingrained in modern society.

In the US, the list of anti-discrimination acts does not specifically include sizeism as an offense.The EOCC website states “Height and weight requirements tend to disproportionately limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and unless the employer can demonstrate how the need is related to the job, it may be viewed as illegal under federal law. A number of states and localities have laws specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of height and weight unless based on actual job requirements.

Therefore, unless job-related, inquiries about height and weight should be avoided.” Therefore, size discrimination in the workplace is only illegal under federal law if it is not a job requirement. Sizeism can be based on height, weight or both, and so is often related to height and weight-based discrimination but is not synonymous with either. Depending on where in the world one is and how one lives his/her life, people may have a tendency to be especially tall, slender, short, or plump, and many societies have internalized attitudes about size.

Another manifestation of body variance is muscle mass and skeletal size, often with associations of degree of compliance to one’s born sex, but do not necessarily affect gender to deviate from sex. As a general rule, sizeist attitudes imply that someone believes that his or her size is superior to that of other people and treat people of other sizes negatively. Examples of sizeist discrimination might include a person being fired from a job for being overweight or exceptionally short though their work was unaffected.

Sizeism often takes the form of a number of stereotypes about people of particular heights and weights. Sizeist attitudes can also take the form of expressions of physical disgust when confronted with people of differing sizes and can even manifest into specific phobias such as cacomorphobia (the fear of fat people), or a fear of tall or short people. Sizeism, being a newly recognized discriminatory stance, is usually observed by those who are its targets.

See also

4 Ways You Can Tackle Racial Discrimination In Your Workplace

Group portrait of a creative business team standing outdoors, three quarter length, close up

Racial discrimination is a global issue that has been an ongoing and commonly ignored problem. Staying silent has proven to be deadly, making one complicit in the system of oppression. 2020 has proven to be a historical year surrounding the pandemic, and now, the uprising against racial injustice after George Floyd’s recent death.

Protests have spanned across the nation with over 30 countries bringing awareness to the racism that exists today. These protests in combination with social media have exposed companies, brands, individuals and even the NFL for their behaviors, comments and practices.

While many brands are posting black squares in response to #blackouttuesday or tweeting #blacklivesmatter, very few are creating conversations or doing anything more than that. David Weisenfeld, J.D., XpertHR podcast host, advised: “Don’t make a statement just to make a statement. It needs to be meaningful.” More than ever, consumers and communities are looking to brands and individuals to see how they’re responding to the protests and what action they’re taking to promote equality and social justice.

There are four ways employers can take meaningful action to tackle racism in the workplace.

Keep The Conversation Going

This is a turning point in not only the workplace but throughout the world. The first step is acknowledging the injustices currently present and expressing your commitment to doing better. It’s critical that there are actions to back up your words or else they’ll remain empty promises. Employers can do this by initiating productive and respectful discussions, forming employee resource groups, training on preventing harassment and discrimination and creating channels where employees feel safe speaking up about racial issues.

Chief people officer at PMI Worldwide, Tammy Perkins, said, it’s important for managers to seek input from missing voices to help obtain different ideas for a diverse point of view. Jessica Lambrecht, founder of The Rise Journey, explained “ensuring you have diverse voices represented at all levels of the organization will help to create an inclusive workplace.”

Tina Charisma, founder of Charisma Campaign, explained “diversified work forces support empathy and compassion between people beyond their race in that the awareness shared during conversations goes on to influence relationships and eventually work practices.”

Embed Anti-Racism Into Your Values, Training And Actions

Building a stronger, healthier and better workplace culture is dependent on having a solid set of core values that are integrated into every policy, decision and process. Now is the time to denounce any weak policies, behaviors, partnerships and client relationships that contradict your company values. Maudette Uzoh, owner of Amazing Days Nursery, said “companies should focus on how they can cultivate an environment where it’s impossible for racism of any sort to sprout or thrive.”

Anti-racism training should never be conducted to check-the-box, but to educate and drive positive change. Training alone isn’t enough to shift people’s perspectives. This is because racism exists in attitudes, cultural messages, stereotypes and beliefs due to implicit bias. Companies can actively reduce bias through training along with embedding processes, policies and expectations that help create a culture rooted in diversity and inclusion.

Ultimately, it’s management’s responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and the value it brings to the company as well as holding others accountable. Furthermore, they need to actively communicate their stance on racial discrimination and what won’t be tolerated along with the consequences for violation. Racism, in any form, should never be overlooked, excused or tolerated, regardless of someone’s rank or title.

Spread Awareness

Aside from conversations, employers can spread awareness by providing resources to educate individuals about the culture of racism and the history of different races. Most individuals are unaware of racial injustice and the comments they unconsciously make towards their BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) colleagues.

The unfortunate reality is victims of racism often remain silent for fear of retaliation or being unfairly judged. This is where management falls short because they turn a blind eye to the discriminatory comments made or downplay the severity of the remarks or behavior.

More awareness needs to be brought to racial discrimination. Justifying or letting one comment slide sets the tone that racism is acceptable. This is how toxic cultures breed. It starts with one incident that’s overlooked and then turns into two, five, ten and soon becomes the norm.

Companies need to hold themselves accountable on what they stand for as well as bringing more awareness to social issues by utilizing their platforms to stand up for the cause. Publishing a statement on the company website, similar to Ben & Jerry’s, is a powerful way to show support for the movement and take meaningful action. Taking one look at Ben & Jerry’s website or social media platforms, there’s no question they are fighting against white supremacy.

Likewise, on their website, they share four ways readers can dismantle white supremacy in addition to releasing a new ice cream flavor called Justice Remix’d. This has undoubtedly given Ben & Jerry’s a competitive edge over other ice cream companies such as Halo Top, Carvel or Breyers who have yet to acknowledge the current situation.

Cultivate Diversity And Tackle Unconscious Bias

The hiring process is just one of many ways employers can combat racial discrimination. Leaders are the ones who establish the company culture whether it’s intentional or not. Taking meaningful action against racism means leaders need to step up and actively support BIPOC. Talking about diversity and inclusion efforts means little when there’s no action taken.

Many employers unknowingly perpetuate racism in their own workplace because they fail to acknowledge the flaws of their own internal company culture. Tackling unconscious bias with the help of a third party, accepting feedback from BIPOC colleagues and taking an honest look at ones culture can help minimize the constraints that prevent the culture from thriving.

The Harvard Business School wrote an article on how minority job applicants are deleting references to their race on their resume in hopes of boosting their chances at getting a job. The article explained how “Asian applicants often change their foreign-sounding names to something more American-sounding” as well as Americanizing their interests by using common white western culture activities such as snowboarding or hiking. Furthermore, African Americans tone down their involvement in black organizations by removing the word “black” from a professional society or scholarship.

Katherine DeCelles, Associate Professor at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, shared “a bias against minorities runs rampant through the resume screening process at companies throughout the United States.” Applicants should not have to sacrifice their achievements, cultural connection or human capital for fear of not being hired.

Companies now have an opportunity to recognize their unconscious bias and prioritize creating a more diversified workplace. One way of doing this is adding blind hiring into the recruitment process. Madison Campbell, CEO of Leda Health Company, said “name-blind applications will increase the focus on qualifications and merit rather than the biases that even the best allies can have.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia. I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com.

Source: 4 Ways You Can Tackle Racial Discrimination In Your Workplace

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Example of a possible example of unconscious racial discrimination in the workplace. For more info on unconscious bias training: https://www.emtrain.com/products/prog… This video portrays some employees of color coming together to protest and support the “Black Lives Matters” movement in their workplace. However, a co-worker disagrees and erases their writing and claims that “All Lives Matter”. This obviously angers the other employees and makes them feel attacked by their coworkers.
This is an example of racial discrimination in the workplace and leads to feelings of isolation in the work environment where teamwork and cooperation are essential to the success of the company. To see more examples of racial discrimination in the workplace and how to handle them in your work environment, go to http://www.emtrain.com
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Citi Pledges $1 Billion To Narrow The Racial Wealth Gap, Confront Wealth Inequality

On Wednesday, Citigroup, the nation’s fourth largest bank by asset size, pledged more than $1 billion over the next three years to address the widening racial wealth gap and increase the economic mobility of Black Americans.

“The pandemic is a health crisis with severe economic implications and it’s led to an unveiling of the systemic racism that has existed in this country for far too long,” says Citi’s CFO Mark Mason, who’s part of a small cadre of prominent Black executives on Wall Street.

Citi’s announcement follows that of Bank of America’s in June pledging $1 billion  to advance racial equality and economic opportunity over a four-year span.

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent demonstrations against the killings of Black people have placed a searing spotlight on existing racial disparities in the U.S., bringing them to the fore of the business world’s conscious.

“It has been a catalyst for many companies to really try and get after this in a substantive way, and for Citi, it’s certainly caused us to take a step back,” Mason says.

“The killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky are reminders of the dangers Black Americans like me face in living our daily lives.” Mark Mason, Citi CFO

In the wake of Floyd’s death in May, Mason penned a candid and poignant letter to the bank’s corporate blog, wherein he detailed Floyd’s last minutes alive and acknowledged that the latest deaths of Black citizens in police custody were “reminders of the dangers Black Americans like me face in living our daily lives.”

The letter was widely circulated among business leaders, including Citi’s outgoing CEO Michael Corbat, who encouraged employees in an internal memo to do their part to create a “truly equal and just society.”

As protesters rallied across the country, reigniting a national conversation about race, Corbat challenged his executive reports to conceive a strategic initiative that would address key factors of economic racial injustice and deliver meaningful impact to the Black community.

Those executives swiftly assembled a team of business leaders throughout the firm to devise what would later form Citi’s $1 billion commitment to help advance racial equity and allay the financial drag Black people experience in the U.S.

The funds will be directed toward expanding access to banking and credit building in communities of color, investing more heavily into Black-owned businesses, promoting the growth of Black home ownership and strengthening Citi’s antiracism policies and practices.

Nearly half of the three-year investment will be meted out to boost homeownership for people of color, which has historically been one of the primary drivers of wealth creation in the U.S., and support affordable and workforce housing projects by minority developers. Just under $400 million will go toward procurement opportunities for Black-owned business suppliers while $50 million will go toward additional impact investing capital for Black entrepreneurs.

Citi is allocating $100 million to support the growth and revenue generation of Minority Depository Institutions, which play a critical role in fostering the economic viability of the communities they serve, by supplying them with $50 million in growth capital. The bank’s philanthropic arm, Citi Foundation, will receive the remaining $100 million to provide economic opportunities for young people in underserved communities.

Citi is also scrutinizing some of its own longstanding policies. The bank says it will develop standards for inclusive software design that eliminate bias, expand Citi’s capital market activities with minority-owned broker dealers and increase the representation of people of color on Citi accounts and within their leadership teams.

Mason says that weeding out a company’s underlying and often deeply rooted biases requires a thorough probe and heavy introspection. “It’s not until you take a hard look at those things—the screening processes that exist, the age-old criteria that’s been designed—and are challenged to see who they’re inadvertently leaving out or boxing out, that you can then change them in a way that helps to eliminate those obstacles.” 

The bank’s financial commitment comes on the heels of a new Citi-sanctioned report that puts a numerical figure behind the economic cost of Black inequality in the U.S. Published on Monday, the analysis found that nearly $5 trillion could be added to U.S. GDP over the next five years if four key racial gaps for Black people—wages, education, housing and investment—were closed today, a .4% annual increase to U.S. GDP growth. Closing those key racial gaps 20 years ago could have yielded a $16 trillion gain to the U.S. economy, according to the report.

“Addressing racism and closing the racial wealth gap is the most critical challenge we face in creating a fair and inclusive society,” Corbat, Citi’s CEO, said in a press release announcing the bank’s pledge. “We are bringing together all the capabilities of our institution…like never before to combat the impact of racism in our economy.”

Citi will establish a council of senior leaders from across the company to assess its performance and hold businesses accountable to the bank’s racial equity commitment. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Ruth Umoh

 Ruth Umoh

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to rumoh@forbes.com.

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Bank of America has announced that it is committing $1 billion to fight racial and economic inequality, pointing to recent civil unrest over racism in the country as its impetus for the major move.

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What Black Business Owners Need Most Right Now

The day Hello Alice launched in 2017, we committed that our primary focus would be the New Majority of business owners, which includes Black business owners. We did this because we saw the major opportunity to work with some of the fastest growing companies in the country, while also closing gaps faced by entrepreneurs of color. 

In our continued commitment to Black-owned businesses, our company partnered with the business support organizations Black & Brown Founders, DivInc, and Digital Undivided to compile anonymous owner data and publish a new Impact Report on our Black-Owned Business Resource Center that analyzes challenges that the Black business community is facing right now. Based on responses from more than 28,000 Black owners, 77 percent told us that they need emergency grants immediately. 

One of the owners asking for funds was Bridgette Baker, the owner of Sunshine Remodeling, a New Orleans-based property company. Nobody in her family had been landlords, and everyone told her she didn’t have the knowledge, let alone the money, to remodel and rent out real estate. But after years of repairing her credit, watching countless home improvement videos, and building some literal sweat equity alongside her husband, Baker now owns and manages a multi-family unit and a single-family home. The difficult journey was all worth it, she says, because of what it means for her daughter’s future.

“As an African American female, I wanted our daughter to know you can do anything you set your mind to with determination and a zeal to achieve your goals,” she says. “I wanted to put myself in a position to create generational wealth and a legacy for our daughter.”

The term generational wealth might be the key to unlocking the unique challenges facing Black business owners. Talent and hard work are not always enough to overcome a persistent racial wealth gap that puts Black entrepreneurs at a disadvantage when starting a small business. Combine that reality with the challenges of COVID-19, and certain estimates project that more than 40 percent of Black businesses are in danger of closing forever.

While Black entrepreneurs overwhelmingly said in the survey that access to capital is their number one need right now, it’s certainly not the group’s first time facing this issue. Deldelp Medina and Aniyia L. Williams of Black & Brown Founders put it best in the report’s opening letter: “You can’t fix what you don’t even consider counting.” In other words, just because you haven’t been paying attention doesn’t mean these problems are new.

Many business leaders continue to lack a basic understanding of the historical obstacles facing Black business owners because they haven’t taken the time to gather information on the community. We must all gather specific data and educate ourselves on the longstanding institutional barriers standing in the way of success for all New Majority business owners, but particularly the Black community.

Collaborate with organizations that promote entrepreneurs of color. 

DivInc CEO Preston James implores in the report that business leaders can proactively engage in collaborative partnerships with organizations, such as ones like DivInc, BlckVCBlack Woman Talk Tech, and Black Innovation Alliance which help promote underrepresented entrepreneurs and build profitable, high-growth companies. 

Business owners and consumers themselves can also open pocket books and seek out collaboration. A great example is the My Black Receipt, a campaign led by The Black Upstart and Kezia M. Williams, which quantifies collective purchases from Black-owned businesses, and has so far driven nearly $10 million in sales to Black-owned small businesses.

Finally, community leaders can harness their power and influence. If you hold any sway with governments, foundations, the VC community, or other groups, remember that Black business owners often need access to social capital as much as financial capital. A simple introduction or mentor relationship might change the course of an entrepreneur’s life.

Enterprise has a role to play as well.

As Robert F. Smith of Vista Equity Partners points out, “Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America.  If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70 percent of African American communities don’t even have a branch bank of any type.”

Black business owners overwhelmingly requested access to funding, with 81 percent of respondents to our survey reporting that they need less than $100,000 to stay in business. Part of this means continuing the call for rent relief, tax deferrals, and tax waivers that business owners are asking for. It’s also about pressuring government leaders to extend emergency funding programs.

In response, Smith is pushing an initiative that urges the nation’s enterprise leaders to invest 2 percent of net income over the next decade into minority communities as a small step toward restoring equity and economic mobility in America.

Tackling these problems will be hard, yes, but leaders who ignore the Black community will do so at their own peril. Black women are already the most educated group in this country and comprise the fastest growing group of people creating businesses. What could Black entrepreneurs accomplish with the proper support and resources? What incredible innovations, experiences, and generational wealth do we forfeit if we continue to neglect this community?

As for Baker, the Sunshine Remodeling owner, I’m happy to report that she was one of the recipients of the COVID-19 Business for All Emergency Grants. During the crisis she’s been waiving late fees, extending rental due dates, and assisting tenants with their utility payments. Baker embodies the best of entrepreneurship in our country. Join us in investing time, money, and resources into the Black business community for years to come.

By Elizabeth Gore, President and chairwoman, HelloAlice.com

How to Have That Tough Conversation About Race, Racism and Racial Identity

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The nation—and the world—have been glued to their televisions over the sadness and anger following the death of George Floyd. Scenes unfold of multi-racial crowds of people wearing masks in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Their hands are raised, they chant “we can’t breathe,” and they carry signs reading everything from “Black Lives Matter” to “Am I Next.” Then there are the images of the many demonstrators being tear-gassed, and others of looting and burning, and still more of both protestors and police officers alike being injured and in some cases killed. It has been heartbreaking, and terrifying.

“I think what I am feeling is that it is an important statement for our community to make about the way we have been treated, about the way we worry about just traversing this society, and the worry that somehow we might be singled out because of our color” says Spencer Crew, the interim director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, when asked by CBS Radio News how he is feeling personally.

“I think with many others,“ Crew continues, “I am frustrated by that being a norm in society, and I am really hopeful that the kinds of frustration people are expressing will have an impact on those in leadership and help us move forward in terms of the kind of society we should be.”

Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the African American History Museum, earlier this week released a searing statement referencing the long list of people of color who have died at the hands of police and others, made even more poignant in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has been disproportionately killing blacks, Latinos and Native Americans in this racially splintered nation.

“Not only have we been forced to grapple with the impact of a global pandemic, we have been forced to confront the reality that, despite gains made in the past 50 years, we are still a nation riven by inequality and racial division. The state of our democracy feels fragile and precarious,” Bunch wrote. “Once again, we struggle to make sense of the senseless. Once again, we bear witness to our country’s troubled history of racial violence, from Freddie Gray and Eric Garner to Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin. Once again, we try to cope as best as we can, whether suffering in silence, participating in protests, or engaging in conversations that evoke all our emotions. Once again, we try to explain to our children that which cannot be explained. Once again, we pray for justice and we pray for peace.”

In the middle of it all, the museum launched the online portal, “Talking About Race,” to help people, educators, communities and families discuss racism, racial identity and how these concepts shape every aspect of our society from politics to the economy to the nation’s culture. The site is chock-full of digital and video tools, exercises and a host of multi-media resources. Crew thinks it will help drive discussions that are clearly critical at this juncture in history.

“The Talking About Race portal is for anyone in a learner stance,” says Candra Flanagan, the museum's director of teaching and learning, adding that there are tools there for anyone who wants to begin or deepen their knowledge and ability to speak about the role of race and racism in this nation.
“The Talking About Race portal is for anyone in a learner stance,” says Candra Flanagan, the museum’s director of teaching and learning, adding that there are tools there for anyone who wants to begin or deepen their knowledge and ability to speak about the role of race and racism in this nation. (Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“I think what we know of our work at our museum over many, many years, is that one of the issues that worry people or challenge people the most is the idea of how do you talk about race? . . . We believe our portal will provide tools and guidance and a way of beginning to have those conversations because they are tough conversations,” Crew says.


I think people have a hard time figuring out how to enter into them, how to do them in ways that are fruitful, to do them in a way in which people don’t have to be worried about being judged for what they have to say, but can allow us to grow and to know each other better.”

The portal features eight foundational subjects, among them: “Community Building,” “Bias,” “Historical Foundations of Race,” “Race and Racial Identity,” “Self-Care,” “Social Identities and Systems of Oppression” and “Whiteness.” Crew thinks one of the most important offerings is the section called Being Anti-racist, defined as a “conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily.”

“What it does, is suggest that we all carry biases,” he says, “but we want to be aware of those biases and begin to try to live our lives in a way in which we don’t let those control how we treat and interact with others.”

Anna Hindley, the museum’s director of early childhood education and the education department, along with the museum’s director of teaching and learning, Candra Flanagan, led a team of educators that spent years building the foundation of this portal.

“The work started with some separate experiences both Anna and I were involved in, . . . as we were thinking of how we wanted to bring the stories and the mission of the museum to life,” Flanagan explains. “We both began to come to the conclusion that we really needed to explicitly talk about identity, to talk about pride and love in one’s own identity. . . . And both of us also, we’re looking at the need for explicitly talking about race and identity in age appropriate ways within our own different target audience demographics.”

Hindley says she thought deeply about what race means for young children and their parents, and how this is a lifelong journey that begins the minute a child is born.

“Children are not color blind, and silence keeps children from understanding and learning so we must have these conversations throughout childhood,” Hindley says. “A good first step is to acknowledge and name what children see, which is people come in all different shades of brown. Black and white are labels that are given in our racialized society. For young children, these labels can be confusing when no human is black like a crayon or white like a crayon, but these labels have significant impact on a person’s life.”

“Children are not color blind, and silence keeps children from understanding and learning so we must have these conversations throughout childhood,” says Anna Hindley, the museum's director of early childhood education.
“Children are not color blind, and silence keeps children from understanding and learning so we must have these conversations throughout childhood,” says Anna Hindley, the museum’s director of early childhood education. (Getty Images )

The portal includes published research from a variety of activists, historians and thought leaders ranging from Audre Lorde to Julie Olsen Edwards to Tim Wise and Jerry Kang. Flanagan says she was touched by the work of the prominent anti-racist educator Enid Lee.

“She really has spoken to the educator population about how to do this in the classroom, and that has been really impactful in helping me think about how to continue to support educators and what they’re thinking about,” Flanagan says, “because they are dealing with a lot of different home background cultures that are coming into one space and then having to also speak within a system of their own and having to elevate this somewhat challenging conversation.”

Hindley thinks that the “Self-Care” section in the portal is not only important, but illustrates the fact that she and Flanagan worked on it together and were able to depend on each other in ways that might help so many people of all races deal with the fallout from the continued attacks on people of color as well as the protests that have ensued. Rest and rejuvenation, both women note, make it possible to sustain the continued work on these issues.

“It truly was a complete collaboration where we sat together, just hours and hours and months and months working on each (subject). It came out of our lived experiences of running workshops and facilitating the workshops in person,” Hindley explains. “It was something we identified from the beginning as critical so there would not be burn out, so that’s the self-care and community care piece.”

There is even something to be learned here, Flanagan says, for a white supremacist who might want to reflect on the lens through which they view race.

“The Talking About Race portal is for anyone in a learner stance,” Flanagan says, adding that there are tools there for anyone who wants to begin or deepen their knowledge and ability to speak about the role of race and racism in this nation. “I think there’s absolutely moments and opportunities for someone who might consider themselves very firmly in the white supremacy camp to come and do some learning and some thinking about what these historical foundations of race have been for this country, what the impact is, how the aspect of whiteness and white dominant culture shows up again and what that means.”

This week as charges have now been filed against all four Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, and as protests continue around the globe in the midst of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, both women have deep feelings about how to move forward.

“I feel even more committed to this work,” Hindley says, “and more inspired to continue it and continue my own learning and to think about what I could do as a white person to continue to fight for equity and to uplift black voices and do the work that’s really played out in this portal.”

Flanagan says she feels inspired to want to do more and continue to add to the portal as well as provide more resources to the public at this critical time. “And then as a black woman,” Flanagan says, “particularly with young black male children, thinking about what I need to do and say, and what kind of care our community needs right now to endure these moments.”

Allison Keyes

By : Allison Keyes

Allison Keyes is an award-winning correspondent, host and author. She can currently be heard on CBS Radio News, among other outlets. Keyes, a former national desk reporter for NPR, has written extensively on race, culture, politics and the arts.

Read more from this author |

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