Make the path by walking it

Make the path by walking it

Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu

Ahead of a conference on the latest developments in anti-racism, Stella highlights ground-breaking new initiatives in the fight for racial equity – and those areas where we continue to fall short. The need for an anti-racist society is an urgent one, says Stella, and we want our conference to be a springboard.

The road to an anti-racist society is a long one. I know that George Floyd’s murder in 2020 and the outcry that followed gave us momentum, with positive responses from organisations and individuals worldwide. So many people wanted to do something and they did. Conversations were had, plans and declarations were made. There were determined tentative steps and some bold courageous strides into uncharted territory. These are continuing. There are also examples of waning enthusiasm.

Here in the UK, operating within a white majority context, the BLG is supporting organisations in different sectors with their anti-racist journeys and action plans. Our approach is about sustainable cultural change through strong leadership, an internal capacity building and self-sufficiency model, and collaborative learning across our affiliated communities of practice.  A simple mirror framing enables white and black individuals to position themselves on a racist, non-racist to anti-racist, continuum through self-reflection and accountability for change.

Fresh thinking and innovations are influencing the practice of anti-racism

Over the past two years I have been inspired by the fresh thinking and innovations that are influencing the practice of anti-racism. Our allies, partners and affiliates are creating and trying out new pathways to the whole organisational sustainable change that is required for the long haul.

The BLG online conference on 21 March, Make the path by walking it, is about showcasing such positive developments. For example, we will gain insights into:

  • Anti-racist Wales 2030, the groundbreaking work in Wales which is unequivocally committed to becoming an anti-racist nation
  • Equity by Design programmes for employers
  • exciting innovations in curriculum design co-created by further and higher education experts
  • a virtual anti-racist world
  • desired characteristics of black leadership to meet the challenges of our time and future generations
  • professionals who are breaking down structural barriers, and so much more

There is no doubt that change is coming.

We still have a long way to go, however. There are no illusions in this regard. Consequently, our conference will highlight areas where more action is needed urgently and suggest solutions. We will question the impact of the Equality Act 2010 over the last decade and explore the implications of the Ethnic Representation Index, which is a new appraisal of the progress made by universities in England to become Anti-racist institutions.

At conference, our keynote speaker will be Nazir Afzal OBE, who will talk about structural racism and how to fight it  as described in his new book The Race to the Top, ‘ a powerful intervention, debunking the myth of progress in racial equality’ and offering an ambitious blueprint to fully unlock Britain’s potential.

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Why does racism persist?

I suppose that over 400 years of history, structures and systems that uphold and embolden racism, prejudice and discrimination are not easily uprooted. Entrenched views, self interest and deniers are some of the road blocks along the way. I have even heard it said that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of anti-racism and we need to return to a balanced state! This is perverse thinking in the face of the mountain of evidence in numerous reports into practice in sector after sector.

The findings of systemic and structural racism are all predictable. We really can’t afford to wait centuries or a couple of decades to see an end to racism, an end to hostile environments and the disparities in outcomes for people of colour reported almost on a daily basis in some media or some research somewhere in our country.

I do wonder whether, somehow, some of us are becoming immune to the reality of the lived experiences of sizeable numbers of people in our organisations and communities. Let’s face it, policies and procedures do not an anti-racist society make, and concepts of inclusion are patronising and becoming increasingly outdated. Belonging is the rightful goal.

Anti-racism is proactive.

It’s about action, equity and justice. I strongly believe that anti-racism is a rising tide that lifts us all. Eradicating racism is a must. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is wrong and has no place in society. Our BLG position, shared by our growing number of allies and partners is that we need to make the most of an ethnically diverse Britain. Ethnic diversity is to be embraced, not feared. We must harness the potential of every single person. These are the underlying themes of our conference and our approach to anti-racism.

We want our conference to be a springboard for continued sustainable change and collaborative learning, inspiring ideas for stepping into new, albeit tough terrain, making the path to an anti-racist society by walking it at pace.

The need for an anti-racist society is an urgent one.

By Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE, Co-founder & Director, Black Leadership Group (BLG) UK
By Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE, Co-founder & Director, Black Leadership Group (BLG) UK

* The BLG online conference, on 21 March, is Make the path by walking it and you can register now here.

Make the path by walking it was published on FE News by Stella Ngozi Mbubaegbu CBE


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