There is a common misconception that anti-racist work is divisive, pitting people against each other in a never-ending battle. However, this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Anti-racism is fundamentally about people being in the right relationship with themselves and each other, fostering unity and dismantling the harmful divisions perpetuated by racism. In this blog, we will explore reasons why at Integrity Coaching, we believe anti-racist work is not divisive but rather an invitation to embark on a journey towards wholeness, healing, and unity.
Let’s start with the inner work
Based upon our extensive anti-racist work with white School Leaders, where to begin with many have struggled with self-doubt, fear, and worry, we have come to realise that there are many deep, unconscious processes at work that initially limit how those who are racialised as white enter into this territory.
As an initial first step, it is essential to acknowledge that it is to be expected and not to be feared. When we understand that our outer worlds sometimes express inner conflicts, we can better understand the type of knowledge and understanding required to ease the dissonance and usher in a more profound sense of internal harmony and personal resonance.
Outlined below are some of the areas of understanding that we believe are pivotal for white School Leaders to be aware of, so that they move from a state of paralysis to active engagement with anti-racism pedagogy and practice. As you read these areas of understanding, ask yourself: “How might these reflections impact the choices and decisions you might make moving forward with this work?”
1. Understanding Internal Divides
To comprehend the true nature of anti-racist work, we must first acknowledge the internal divides that exist within individuals. Race socialisation, particularly for white people, can create psychological splits and blind spots that, if you are white, can prevent you from fully recognising the realities of racism. Anti-racist work invites individuals to confront these internal divides and embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing.
2. Wholeness and Unity
Anti-racism is not about creating a dichotomy between different racial groups, but about cultivating wholeness within individuals and communities. By addressing the internal divides caused by racial socialisation, white individuals can begin the process of healing and integration, transcending the artificial barriers created by racism and creating a path towards unity, empathy, and compassion.
3. Ubuntu: Humanity at Its Best
In exploring the concept of unity and interconnectedness, we can turn to the South African philosophy of Ubuntu. Ubuntu, often translated as “I am because we are,” emphasises the inherent connectedness of humanity. It underscores the idea that our well-being is intricately tied to the well-being of others. Ubuntu teaches us that anti-racist work is not about division, but embracing our shared humanity and working together to dismantle systemic injustices.
4. Healing and Transformation
Anti-racist work offers an opportunity for personal and collective healing and transformation. For white individuals, it involves recognising and confronting the unconscious biases and privileges ingrained through racial socialisation. It requires a willingness to deeply self-reflect, unlearn harmful narratives, and challenge oppressive systems. By embarking on this journey, individuals can heal internal divides and contribute to creating a more equitable and just society.
5. Building Bridges, Not Walls
Anti-racist work is about building bridges, fostering understanding, and dismantling the barriers that separate us. It encourages open dialogue, active listening, and empathy. By embracing anti-racism, we can create spaces where individuals from diverse backgrounds feel seen, heard, and valued. It is an opportunity to bridge divides, build authentic relationships, and forge a path towards a more inclusive and equitable future.
6. Embracing the Journey
Anti-racist work is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. It requires continuous learning, growth, and action. By engaging in this work, white individuals have the opportunity to transform themselves and contribute to the transformation of society as a whole. It is an invitation to step out of comfort zones, challenge deeply ingrained beliefs, and actively create a world where everyone can thrive.
We have found that re-framing the work in this way helps School Leaders (particularly those racialised as white) to create a greater level of alignment between their values and externalised behaviours. They understand that becoming anti-racist is fundamental to who they are and how they show up. And even if traditional CPD does not recognise this, they are determined to step outside of the education system’s norms and delve into the personal enquiry around race that they know will be personally and professionally transformational.
Do you want to go on a deeper journey?
If you are curious and want to further your own anti-racist journey, we invite you to engage in our seven steps to becoming an effective anti-racist School Leader self-assessment tool. This assessment will enable you to reflect on your current practices, identify areas for growth, and chart your progress as you work towards becoming an anti-racist leader in your school community.
By taking the self-assessment, you will gain valuable insights into your strengths and areas that require further attention. It will serve as a roadmap, guiding you towards meaningful actions and strategies for moving forward.
To access the self-assessment tool, click here. Upon completion, you will receive a personalised report summarising your results and providing recommendations for the next steps. Remember, this self-assessment is not a one-time activity but an ongoing process. Revisit it periodically to gauge your growth and reassess your efforts. Together, let’s commit to being agents of transformation within our schools and communities.