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University of Bath

How to be an anti-racist and white ally

This guide has been collated by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.

People walking
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Introduction

The response to George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis policemen has ignited widespread protests throughout the US, the UK and globally. #BlackLivesMatter, a Black-led movement demanding police accountability and justice has galvanised multi-racial anger and frustration over the repeated killings of Black men and women and structural racism. At the University of Bath, we recognise that we are witnessing a pivotal moment that will reshape our relationship with Black lives, and will have profound implications for our collective future.

Whilst many of us might feel disgust over acts of racism, covert or overt, we might not have necessarily had the lived experience of racism directly. As a result, this can make it hard to understand what racism is and be able to demonstrate support for those it impacts daily. The current conversations around Black Lives Matter are woven into an environment where microaggressions, (defined as, verbal, behavioural, and environmental indignities that are often unintentional, but communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial insults), are often a daily experience for many of our Black and BAME colleagues and students.

We can all help to create a more inclusive community to end the pain, hurt and exhaustion that our Black community is feeling. This resource page can help us to understand how to respond to inappropriate comments, how to be a good ally, and how we can all help to combat racism whether covert or overt within our university.

If you have 30 minutes we recommend watching this video 'The Remains of Slavery' about Bath and Bristol.

Being an ally

Actively listen

  • Avoid assumptions
  • Listen with empathy
  • Don’t talk over the individual
  • Listen more talk less
  • Give your full attention
  • Check the lens that you are listening through
  • Listen, hear, understand, and then act

Avoid rationalising bad behaviour

  • Don’t explain away someone’s bad behaviour
  • If you feel you’re making excuses, you probably are
  • Try to listen, understand, and support

Educate yourself

  • It’s not the victim’s responsibility to educate you
  • This does not just fall to a small group of us, this is everyone’s responsibility
  • Take your time and energy to educate yourself
  • Seek out a diverse community to understand different points of view
  • Recognise your social conditioning
  • Take yourself out of your echo chamber

Believe

  • Remember just because you don’t experience it does not mean it does not happen
  • What someone is going through is very real to them
  • We all experience and see life through a different lens – open your eyes to different lenses
  • The emphasis has to be on your impact not your intent

Speak up! Not over

  • Don’t talk over those you are trying to support
  • Amplify rather than overshadow
  • It is not enough to be offended and simply refrain from a behaviour, be actively anti-racist
  • If you see it, hear about it or know about it – speak up!
  • Tell the bullies their jokes, comments, approach is not welcome
  • Use inclusive language
  • Self-reflect more, check your unconscious bias and behaviours

Be respectful

  • Saying you are an ally does not make you one, actions do
  • Limited interaction isn’t enough
  • Be a prosocial bystander, not passive
  • Don’t expect kudos or thanks
  • Understand this is the right thing to do, and how it fits with your values

Understand your privilege

  • Know that there are some things you will never experience
  • Recognise there are situations you will never have to think about
  • Understand that you don’t have to walk in others shoes daily experiencing what they can not change, in order to see it and take action
  • Acknowledge that privilege is not something you choose but does come with unearned benefits

Mistakes happen

  • We’re human, mistakes happen
  • Recognise it, own it
  • Apologise, but don’t make it about you
  • Apologise without caveats
  • Move on and learn from it.

Responding to inappropriate comments and behaviours

Inappropriate behaviours, comments, microaggressions, and structural discriminators are often invisible to the majority and entrenched in our culture and society. They sneak up on us, both as victims and in our own minds and mouths without us being aware. When faced with challenging conversations about movements such as #BlackLivesMatter or any form of discrimination, it can be difficult to know what to say, how to support and what to do.

Examples could include: Verbal abuse, insults, inappropriate jokes, ridicule, unwanted physical contact, leering, coercive, menacing behaviour, isolation, micro-aggressions, inappropriate advances, power play, inappropriate / outdated language, overt and covert discrimination.

Here are a few suggestions of how you can help:

Remember the four D’s:

Direct Action - directly intervene, for example, by asking the person to stop immediately or call out negative behaviour, explaining why it is not OK.

Distraction - indirectly intervene, for example, de-escalating by interrupting or changing the subject or focus. Useful where the direct approach may be harmful to the target or bystander.

Delay - wait for the situation to pass and check in with the individual. Take action at a later stage when you have had time to consider.

Delegation - inform a more senior member of staff, someone with social power or authority.

Or you can approach the situation in one of the following ways:

Number 1

Present another way of viewing the situation

Confrontation does not always mean saying “You’re wrong.” A more subtle form of confrontation can be saying “That’s not always right.”

When a microaggression sneaks into your everyday conversation, a gentle redirection regarding why a given statement is not altogether true or factual can be helpful.

Shift and open the conversation ever so slightly, some examples of how you can start that conversation include:

  • I experience that like...
  • I’ve heard it explained like...
  • That could also mean...
  • That could also be experienced through...

Number 2

Challenge the microagression

A challenge can simply be saying “That’s not my experience, and it’s not the experience of many other people.”

Language you can use to challenge microaggressions include:

  • I’ve heard/experienced the opposite...
  • Some people would tell you...
  • I’m not sure that reflects my experiences...
  • I have felt differently when...

Another good way of challenging microaggessions is to ask questions:

  • Where have you heard that?
  • Who have you talked to about that?
  • Do you think there are other opinions about that?
  • How might someone disagree with that?

Number 3

Express your disagreement

Simply say, “That’s not right.” No further explanation is necessary.

We are often faced with an endless number of microaggressions — not just sexist ones, but ones that challenge a multitude of your own identities and the identities of people you know and care about.

You are not a full-time educator. You can express your disagreement and simply say, “I am not interested in having this conversation right now, but it’s important for you to know that I am not okay with what you just said.”

You have taken time and effort to do your homework. So can they.

Number 4

Educate and explain why you disagree

You are not going to reverse years of social conditioning in one conversation, however, it is an opportunity to plant a seed of dissent; over the years, that seed can grow as more information is provided to counteract the inappropriate messages we receive daily.

It is important to remember: Good people can (and do) engage in microaggressions. People you love can (and do) engage in microaggressions.

That doesn’t make it hurt any less. It also doesn’t make these conversations any easier. But challenging them can help create more honest communication with those around you.

At the very least, it can help them understand where you’re coming from and establish boundaries around certain topics.

Number 5

Change or redirect the conversation

You may not always feel comfortable directly challenging microaggressions. You may not be in a space where you feel like it would be helpful, either for the person you are confronting or for yourself.

If you hear a microaggression, you always have the option to indirectly confront it by simply changing the topic. This doesn’t have the same level of satisfaction or impact as intervening, but it can stop a comment from turning into an inappropriate conversation.

  • Let’s talk about...
  • Did you hear that story about...
  • What did you think when...
  • I’ve always wondered...

It might feel awkward at first, but redirection can be effective when you feel like other conversations might simply escalate.

Number 6

Nothing

Just like you are not a full-time educator, you are not required to intervene at every microaggression you witness. There will be times when you will choose to do nothing. That might depend on the environment you are in, the power differentials in the conversation, your own level of comfort, and your own level of burnout. That’s okay.

Our ability to challenge every day microaggressions is what helps create a shift in our culture. That shift will happen gradually. However, the weight of it does not fall solely on your shoulders.

Do your part, but also know that we are creating this shift together. Sometimes we will succeed, sometimes we will falter, and always we will continue forward.

Building empathy

Watch this short video - Brené Brown on Empathy

Personal tips for us going forward

  • Use the reflective journal prompts available from equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Familiarise yourself with the inclusive language guide created by equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Commit to doing the anti-racism training and University of Leicester Hate Crime training
  • Seek out anti-racist educators and trainers. Attend their classes, courses, workshops – there are plenty online. Self-reflect and act
  • Curate from the resources below, anti-racism education and follow through with your responsibility to it
  • Show up – meetings, events, and conversations.
  • Financially support BAME work and organisations
  • Uplift, centre, pay and elevate BAME / BME leaders and teachers
  • Uphold your commitments to living a life of integrity for your anti-racist views
  • Watch resources from our regulators, such as this from the Office for Students

Further resources for you to educate yourself and explore

Articles

Books

The University library has a dedicated recommended book list: Black Literature and Culture, which is continuously being added to, and can be accessed here.

Below is a collated list of all recommended reading.

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • A dying colonialism / Fanon Frantz
  • Always outnumbered, always outgunned / Mosleey Walter
  • American Street / Zoboi Ibi Aanu
  • Annie John / Kiincaid Jamaica
  • Are Prisons Obsolete?/Angela Davis/2003
  • Back to Black : retelling Black radicalism for the 21st century/ Andrews Kehinde
  • Barracoon: The Story of The Last Slave by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Becoming / Michelle Obama
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Between the World and Me/Ta-Nehisi Coates/2015
  • Biased by Dr Jennifer Eberhardt
  • Black and British: A Forgotten History – David Olusoga
  • Black British feminism : a reader
  • Black Feminist Thought/Patricia Hill Collins/2000
  • Black Marxism: The Making of Black Radical Tradition/Cedric Robinson/1983
  • Black Skin, White Masks/Frantz Fanon/1952
  • Black, white, and in color : essays on American literature and culture / Spillers Hortense J.
  • Blackness in Britain /
  • Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
  • Common Ground/J. Anthony Lukas/1985
  • Dear Martin / Stone Nic
  • Death and the king's horseman / Soyinka Wole
  • Diversify by June Sarpong
  • Don't Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
  • Einstein on Racism and Race/ Jerome Fred
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower/Brittney Cooper/2018
  • Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Go tell it on the mountain / James Baldwin
  • Half of a yellow sun / Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi
  • Heavy: An American Memoir/Kiese Laymon/2018
  • Homegoing / Gyasi Yaa
  • Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
  • How to Argue with a Racist by Adam Rutherford
  • How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings/Maya Angelou/1969
  • Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor
  • Invisible man / Ellison Ralph
  • Just Mercy/Bryan Stevenson/2014
  • King of kings : the triumph and tragedy of emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia / Asfa-
  • Wossen Asserate
  • Knowing Otherwise: race, gender and implicit understanding / Shotwell Alexis
  • Lucy / Jamaica Kincaid
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
  • Medical apartheid : the dark history of medical experimentation on Black Americans from
  • Colonial times to the present / Harriet A Washington
  • More than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
  • Mouth full of blood : essays, speeches, meditations / Moorison Toni
  • Muhammad Ali : his life and times / Hauser Thomas
  • Native son / Ricdhard Wright
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire - The Sunday Times Bestseller – Akala
  • No win race / Bardowell Derek
  • Not in our lifetimes: the future of black politics/ Dawson Michael C
  • Overcoming Everyday Racism by Susan Cousins
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence by Derald Wing Sue
  • Raising our Hands/Jenna Arnold/2020
  • Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More/Janet
  • Mock/2014
  • Reproductive justice : an introduction / Loretta Ross
  • Resisting racism : race, inequality, and the Black supplementary school movement /
  • Andrews Kehinde
  • Seeing Race Again by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw et al.
  • Sister Outsider/Audrey Lord/1984
  • Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené
  • So You Want to Talk About Race/Ijeoma Oluo/2018
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini
  • Swing time / Zadie Smith
  • The Bluest Eye/Toni Morrison/1970
  • The book of night women / James Marlon
  • The Clapback: Your Guide to Calling Out Racist Stereotypes by Elijah Lawal
  • The conservationist / Nadine Gordimer
  • The Fire Next Time/James Baldwin/1962
  • The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
  • The human genome diversity project : an ethnography of scientific practice/ M'chark
  • Amade
  • The lonely Londoners / Samuel Selvon
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle
  • Alexander
  • The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century/Grace
  • Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige, and Danny Glover/2011
  • The parable of the talents / Octavia E Butler
  • The Warmth of Other Suns/Isabel Wilkerson/2010
  • The wise mind of H.I.M. Emperor Haile Sellassie I /
  • The World That Made New Orleans/Ned Sublette/2008
  • Think Like a White Man by Boule Whytelaw and Nels Abbey
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color/Roasrio Morales/1984
  • To Exist is to Resist - Black Feminism in Europe
  • Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race/Debby Irving/2014
  • What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy by Robin DiAngelo
  • What is race? who are racists? why does skin colour matter? : and other big questions /
  • When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • White Privilege: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society By Bhopal, Kalwant
  • White Rage/Carol Anderson/2017
  • White teeth / Zadie Smith
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations
  • About Race/Beverley Daniel Tatum/2017
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Wide Sargasso Sea / Jean Rhys
  • Women, Race, and Class/Angela Davis/1981
  • Wretched of the Earth/Frantz Fanon/1961
  • Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

How to be an ally/ally-ship

How to be an ally (scroll through the images by clicking the right arrow button on the image):

Videos

Movies/Documentaries

  • 13th/Ava Duvernay/2016 - Netflix
  • American Son/Kenny Leon/2019 - Netflix
  • Sorry To Bother You/Boots Riley/2018 - Hulu
  • Get Out/Jordan Peele/2017
  • Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975/Göran Olsson/2011
  • Clemency/Chinonye Chukwu/2019
  • Fruitvale Station/Ryan Coogler/2013
  • I Am Not Your Negro/Raoul Peck/2017
  • If Beale Street Could Talk/Barry Jenkins/2018 - Hulu
  • Just Mercy/Destin Daniel Cretton/2019
  • King In The Wilderness/Peter Kunhardt/2018 - HBO
  • See You Yesterday/Stefon Bristol/2019 - Netflix
  • Blackkklansman/Spike Lee/2018
  • Selma/Ava Duvernay/2014
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution/Stanley Nelson Jr./2015
  • The Hate U Give/George Tillman Jr./2018 - Hulu
  • When They See Us/Ava Duvernay/2019
  • The Death and Life Marsha P. Johnson (Netflix)
  • Dear White People/Justin Simien/2017 - Netflix
  • When They See Us/Ava Duvernay/2019 - Netflix
  • Black Lives Matter: Rivers of Blood - 50 Years On The story of multicultural Britain through the eyes of several generations.

Websites/blogs

Podcasts

Toolkits

Online training

Organisations

Information on Black Lives Matter and how to support the movement from around the world:

Supporting campaigns

Knowing your rights

Social Media

  • Twitter thread of UK based people, projects and organisations that support Black people
  • Antiracism Center @antiracismctr (Twitter, Instagram)
  • Audre Lorde Project @audrelorde (Twitter) @audrelordeproject (Instagram)
  • Black Women’s Blueprint @BlackWomensBP (Twitter) @blackwomensblueprint (Instagram)
  • Color of Change @colorofchange (Twitter and Instagram)
  • Colorlines @colorlines (Twitter) @colorlinesnews (Instagram)
  • The Conscious Kid @consciouskidlib (Twitter) @consciouskid (Instagram)
  • Equal Justice Initiative @ejl_org (Twitter and Instagram)
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights @civilrightsorg (Twitter and Instagram)
  • NAACP @naacp (Twitter and Instagram)
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice @ShowUp4RJ (Twitter) @showingupforracialjustice (Instagram)
  • Sistersong @sistersong_woc (Twitter and Instagram)
  • United We Dream @unitedwedream (Twitter and Instagram)
  • Rachel Cargle @rachel.cargle (Twitter and Instagram)
  • Osheta Moore @oshetamoore (Instagram)
  • Layla F. Saad @laylafsaad (Instagram)

if you have any additional resources that you have found useful, please email diversity@bath.ac.uk and we will include them.

White supremacy to white allyship