Race Reflections AT WORK launched on Monday March 1st 2021.

Race Reflections’ AT WORK brings the same engaging, stimulating, and supportive content in audible form. AT WORK as the name suggests,  focuses on Inequality, Injustice, and Oppression AT WORK and is solution-focused.

You can find Race Reflections AT WORK wherever you get your podcasts.

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If you would like to find out more about Race Reflections’ AT WORK,  or propose topics or dilemmas for the podcast please use the form below.

AT WORK EPISODE 10: CONDITIONAL HUMANITY, GRATITUDE AND BLACK OBJECTHOOD

In this episode we think about the treatment of the Black players in the England team after the Euro 2020 final. We think about the parallels between all of this and the struggles people navigate in more conventional workplaces. We consider the conditional humanity afforded to Black people and people of colour, the colonial notion of gratitude and how Black people are objectified.

The twitter thread this episode was based around:

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 9: TOXIC WHITE FEMININITY

In today’s episode we take the recent Tiktok trend of “white women fake crying” as a jumping-off point to consider a slightly different take on intersectionality in relation to white womanhood. We consider the reasons why black people and people of colour find these videos disturbing or triggering, and explore “toxic femininity” which we define as when white fragility meets the constructions of white femininity.

More on the TikTok trend: https://www.nylon.com/life/white-women-crying-on-cue-tiktok-trend

Living While Black: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Racial Trauma is out.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 8: ENVY

In today’s episode we think about how the so called “deadly sin’ of envy can play out in the workplace in relation to racial dynamics and inequality. We consider the distinction between envy and jealousy and the underlying motivations behind these feelings and what they look like within the contexts of whiteness and work.

Living While Black: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Racial Trauma is out.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 7: SURVIVING THE WORKPLACE WHILE BLACK

In today’s episode we consider surviving the workplace while black. We reflect on the workplace conditions of previous and current generations of black people, particularly black women. We think about three strands that are navigated when working while black:

1.  Inequalities and structural racism which impacts physical and mental health.
2. Experiences of discrimination, interpersonal racism and bullying which intersect with structural issues.
3. The internal and external pressures put on black people by themselves, their family and community, to work twice as hard to overcome these oppressive systems.

Living While Black: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Racial Trauma is out.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 6: LIVING WHILE BLACK

Today we do something a little bit different because Living While Black: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Racial Trauma is due to come out very soon! So this episode is dedicated to thinking together about the book, considering the relevance of LWB to the workplace and sharing an exclusive extract from the book’s introduction. You can preorder living while black here.

To learn more about the book go here.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 5: TRANSFERENCE IN THE WORKPLACE

In today’s episode we consider the influence of the past on the present by exploring the concept of transference, what it means and how it might manifest in the workplace. This episode is all about making present-past links to better make sense of conflicts, tensions and race-based difficulties at work.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 4: AVERSIVE RACISM

In Episode 4 we consider aversive racism. Specifically, how the fear of being called racist, the fear of confronting racism and the avoidance of difficult race-related conversations by white managers, can lead to exclusionary interpersonal dynamics and cultures of marginalisation within institutions which can have significant adverse consequences on the welfare, morale and/or workplace experience of colour.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

The twitter thread this episode was based around:

AT WORK EPISODE 3: BLACK AUTHORITY IN THE WORKPLACE

There are many challenges black leaders must contend with, that is for certain… In this episode we consider why black authority in the workplace continues to attract resistance, hostility and sometimes sabotage and reflect on some of the challenges of black leadership within white institutions. To do this, we make links to historical configurations, colonial relations and the expectation of black servitude.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

AT WORK EPISODE 2: LOCATION OF DISTURBANCE AND SCAPEGOATING

In this episode we ask ourselves why institutions often against those who allege racism. We consider some of the group processes at play using as illustration the treatment of Meghan Markle and responses from that interview. Location of disturbance and scapegoating are presented as frames to formulate victimisation and retaliation within institutions.

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To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

Transcript:

Welcome to episode 2 of AT WORK, Race Reflections’ fortnightly podcast on all things inequality, injustice and oppression.

As you know we work on questions, challenges, dilemmas and issues that are related to racial trauma in the workplace and offer reflections and possible solutions.

As many Black woman, I found the treatment of Megan Markle distressing and triggering. Women of colour have been vocal in naming what has been going on and let’s be clear it’s not because we’re royalist or monarchy stans but because we recognise patterns of misogynoir (racialised sexism) and racism.

I am no monarchy commentator and I don’t follow the couple closely but I know that Meghan agreed to do a ‘tell all’ interview with Oprah which many speculated would name her experience of racism within the Royal family.

As soon as this was announced Buckingham Palace shared amongst other alleged wrongdoings that it would be investigating multiple allegations of bullying made against Mehgan. I think timing is material, particularly material as we know what can happen when a person of colour dares to speak of racism… Indeed it’s rarely the case that they are greeted with flowers and chocolates.

So is going on? Or what can we learn about organisational functioning from this debacle?

This is of course a very broad question and there are various ways to tackle it but what I want to do is to give you new perspectives hopefully some new concepts that you can use to better understand what happened within institutions and within groups when a person of colour in particular, attempts to speak about their experience of racism in the workplace.

So you’ve heard the story, you perhaps even had the experience of naming racism. You name racism and all of a sudden something seems to happen, perhaps you become the enemy, perhaps you become ignored, perhaps your loyalty to the organisation is questioned. But in any event the endgame is that you are in some ways excluded, smear campaigns are not uncommon, you go from target from persecutor.

So what is it that makes workplaces and social structures claim overtly that we are all for inclusion diversity and equality but turn violent when their claim to inclusion and diversity are challenged?

The concept I want to speak about is what group analysis refers to as the location of disturbance and the second one which is somewhat related is scapegoating.

Location of disturbance

The concept of psychological disturbance in group analysis is a way to view a tension, a conflict or dysfunction in a group. The location of disturbance is a way of understanding how an individual can become a recipient of unconscious group projections, which reflect a wider group dynamic or problem, we could say a blind spot for that wider group. What is being said here, is that no disturbance can ever be confined to or attributable to a single person or entity. Rather, that a distressed or disturbed individual or the person who carries the disturbance is thought of as the site, the symptom of a problem belonging to a larger unit.

Group analytic thinking sees disturbance as group phenomena, as a self-protective mechanism for the group to preserve its ignorance or innocence vis á vis its own wishes which can then projected onto an individual scapegoat. And so here we can see the overlap between location of disturbance and scapegoating.

What is scapegoating?

Scapegoating is a group dynamic that means that it is something which is reproduced by groups where usually an individual is unfairly singled out for blame for something for which they are not responsible or at least not wholly responsible for.

Why does it happen?

There are there are various theories to make sense of the dynamic of scapegoating. At the core of the need to scapegoat is an inability to address some disturbance or some difficulty because it is too anxiety provoking, too overwhelming or for whatever reason cannot be faced.

Some of the factors linked to organisational scapegoating include;

-a blame culture: where we tend to look for someone to blame/locate faults

-a highly hierarchical culture: where power is distributed vertically, where place and rank in the organisation determines your treatment

-institutions with stark inequality in relation to ‘representation’

-highly stressed contexts, this may be because of change, particularly poorly managed stressed

In every case of scapegoating, there is displacement and misdirection of the problem towards a safer and usually more vulnerable rather.  Hence why there is a strong correlation between organisation toxicity, scapegoating and lack of inclusivity.

So what can be done?

I am amongst those who believe that scapegoating is inevitable but you’ll be glad to know there are things we can do to stop if in its course and mitigate its impact. Here a few thing we can all do:

1. Learn about scapegoating, what it is what it looks like except that it is almost an inevitable group dynamic

2. When you see it when you recognise it name it for what it is

3. Encourage collective ownership of problems

4. Redirect hostility, anger and anguish or causes of stress of grievances of anxiety to where they belong. Most of the time this will be to do with structural issues rather than individual factors. Often power is involved.

That is all on organisational scapegoating for now I hope you have found this short episode helpful, again feel free to get in touch with your questions.

This has been Guilaine from Race Reflections, please take care.

AT WORK EPISODE 1: RACIAL TRAUMA AT WORK

What is racial trauma? How does it manifest in the workplace? In this episode we consider the distress that racism can cause in the workplace and explore the experience of Harvinder, a research assistant whose well-being becomes so adversely affected by his experience of discrimination and victimisation, he is forced to resign. We ask ourselves why it matters that those in position of power in organisations understand racial trauma and what organisations can do mitigate the adverse impact of racism at work.

Subscribe, rate and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk

Transcript:

Hello, this is Guilaine from Race Reflections,

I’m really excited to welcome you into the first episode of our new podcast at work, the podcast is all about tackling issues of inequality injustice and oppression at work

It is going to be a fortnightly place to reflect on the issues you face and so going forward we’ll use an open format which means that moving we will welcome your questions your challenges and dilemmas related to inequality, injustice and oppression.

If you would like to put to us issues to consider, then get in touch and we’ll feature them in the podcast.

How at work develops over time is up to you and to your feedback but will remain open to take the direction you find the most helpful.

Before we get started a little bit about us and a little bit about me Race Reflections is a fast growing social enterprise dedicated to tackling inequality injustice and oppression in society and we do this through various activities including organisational consultancy, Training, community engagement content creation.

As for me I am a psychologist by background with grounding in sociology in in cultural studies in psychoanalysis and group analysis so those are the perspectives I will bring when considering organisational functioning at work.

Today is our first ever episode so it is a little bit scary but it is also very exciting at the same time also as it is celebratory in more than one way.

As some of you may know I have just finished writing living wile blak my first book and so it is a very special time; it’s been quite a tough journey to get to this point.

Living While Black address issues the psychological impact of racism and racial trauma in this deity lived experience primarily black people, it provides tools and strategies to facilitate self-care within white supremacy.

And so it seems to befitting today to think about racial trauma in the workplace, an issue not often reflected upon when it comes to considering the experience of people of colour in the workplace and also when it comes to thinking about organisational functioning and dynamics. So let us take the rest of the podcast to think a little bit about what racial trauma might be.

Before we think about what racial trauma might be, let think about trauma first. Now there are no universally agreed definition of trauma, but generally when clinician are talking about trauma they are talking about both events and responses to events that are experienced as frightening and as overwhelming,

And which negatively affect our sense of safety and a sense of security in the world so I guess we could say and which have long lasting effect on how we relate to ourselves have you relate to others and how we relate to the world

To consider racial trauma, it’s important to remember there no universally agreed definition either. But we could extend that definition trauma to say that racial trauma. Both racism related distressing events or our our responses to these events that are experienced as frightening and as overwhelming, and which negatively affect our sense of safety and our sense of security in the world.

There are more specific definitions that exist so for example Dr Robert Carter who is African-American psychologist has created a framework which makes visible the harm of racism and that framework is called race-based traumatic stress injury according to this framework racial trauma is essentially the pain that a person may feel after encounters with racism, according to carter how we experience these encounters is going to be dependent on us as individual on the context, on the history. So whether an event is going to be experienced as traumatic or as stressful is a matter of intersection between individual factors and contextual factors and history.

I wonder whether it’s going to be helpful to think about this definition to in relation to someone so I’m going to tell you about someone that I have worked with, of course I have altered some biographical information in the interest of maintaining confidentiality and anonymity. The person I want to tell you about, I called Harvinder.

Harvinder is a British Asian male in his mid 20s and who worked as a research assistant for about two years. He was fiercely ambitious having beloved most of his life that his work ethics and competence would be no bar progressing in his career and being treated fairly.

Harvinder found himself within a context of organisational restructuring and he accepted a transfer to an all white team within which he quickly started to notice that he was treated differently. He was denied time off when it is suited him, he was unlike others micromanaged, he was given more more administrative assignment. Because of his treatment Harvinder made a number of race discrimination complaints none of which were upheld but as a result his supervisor retaliated.

He was labelled as a troublemaker, deprived of support and excluded from social events, because he needed to job Harvinder endured the mistreatment for several months and he started to have nightmares about work, he experienced panic attacks on his way to work and they became so severe that he could no longer face returning to work. Harvinder was eventually signed off with depression for about 18 weeks this period was extended and then eventually he resigned.

Now what in Harvinder’s story can help us better understand what racial trauma is and what it might look like in the workplace?

We could say that racial trauma is the lived experience of distress which occur as a result of racism, the real or threaten emotional or physical pain that experiencing racism might cause, it the result of micro, meso macro, processes & configurations.It can manifest in various ways including via feelings of shame, of self blame, of isolation. It is operational at individual and collective level, it is central to group identify and dynamics – although the story of Harvinder does not cover this, it can be transmitted intergenerationally.

Racial trauma is a significant issue when it comes to the well-being of employees of colour for example it’s not unusual for people who and are underrepresented in their place of employment to feel that they bear the burden of countering negative stereotypes, to feel that they have to work 3-4 times harder to succeed or to feel that they have to put on a persona, to leave their authentic self to be acceptable and safe.

More often than not when a person of colour manages to access a white organisation even though HR and management may go out of their way to increase racism diversity… the expectation or normalised practice culturally is that they dress themselves In whiteness so that in the end everyone comes to think the sane way, dress the same way, speak the same way in a way that simply reproduced whiteness and therefore culturally exclude those it wants to recruit but or forces assimilating into norms that reproduces social & historical micro messages about micro inferiority, otherness and trespassing which can take their toll on the wellbeing of employees of colour.

That is why it’s so important to think beyond interpersonal issues, and consider cultural and structural issues as well to promote the well-being of staff of colour.

So what can people in position of authority do, what can organisations or social structures do to mitigate the impact of racism and therefore limit the probability that their employee will be experiencing race based distress or trauma?

As we have said at the beginning of the podcast at work is really all about trying to figure out some possible solutions so I want to leave you with things that you may want to consider if you are in a position of power within your organisation that is not to say that these are the interventions that are possible and of course right now I focus on organisational level interventions, there are individual interventions for people who are at the receiving end of racism and things we can do, to look after our mental health and well-being. Consider registering for our racial trauma courses or buy living while black which has a chapter on working while black and is packed with self-care tools.

So back to organisational interventions. 4 things…

Firstly, I really want you to start to listen and to trust people who have lived experience of racism. They have the expertise when it comes to recognising racism. Basic but as we have seen in the case of Harvinder, rare. Most race discrimination complaints are dismissed. There are complex dynamics we have no time to cover today but if that’s something that interests, you please get in touch and tell us and we will be happy to reflect on them in the podcast.

Number two, it is vital that you accept racism as the norm and that you take a critical stance to your activities and to your services this will avoid the kind of scapegoating that we have seen with Harvinder as he attempted to name what the organisation was not prepared to contemplate the problem or the disturbance became located in him which is a frequent dynamic within groups.

Number 3 be honest about you the limitations: where you are located in society, place on your perspective. What you can see and what you cannot see.

I know there a lot of pushback in relation to unconscious bias and I think that most of the criticisms are important and valid but what we do not want to do is for micro level phenomena to be completely discarded when he comes to understanding how inequality in the workplace is reproduced.

Any comprehensive antiracism program comprehensive or racial equality program is going to include the reproduction of racism at the microlevel, at meso level and at macro level. so it’s important not to continually reflective and to develop a learning culture in tension to difference.

Finally 4, as we have seen through the story of Harvinder, isolation and lack of social support are contextual risk factors for racial trauma. Do your staff have access to race-based support? Spaces or network to connect to others who may have similar experience of the workplace.

Well that is probably enough for a first introduction into racial trauma at work, If you want to know more please get in touch don’t forget to put to us your query questions challenges.

Thank you for listening, this has been Guilaine from Race Reflections. Until next time take good care

AT WORK TEASER

Here’s a teaser for Race Reflections AT WORK!

Our first episode will be released on Monday 1st March.

The feed is now live on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

To send us your queries, questions and dilemmas please email atwork@racereflections.co.uk