by Tamara Thorpe
Why we created the SEU Anti-racism Learning Series
The murder of George Floyd ignited a Global Racial Reckoning, a call to action for people, communities, organizations and nations around the world to confront racial injustice. The world could no longer hide behind the ideals of a post racial society and had to come to terms with the reality of the ongoing racial disparities that exist, and their deadly impact. While the George Floyds death affected me personally, as then President of SIETAR Europa, I had to consider what it meant for SIETAR Europa, our members and the intercultural field. And this was not something that I could determine on my own, it was something we needed to do together. The SIETAR Europa Board came together to share our feelings, thoughts and vision for how we were going to respond and take action. Together, we crafted a statement with clear commitments to action, which began with educating ourselves and the membership. Deepening our understanding of race and racism, and its implications in our organization and industry was the priority for 2020 and 2021. It was the impetus for the SEU Anti-racism Learning Series (ARLS), a yearlong monthly webinar series featuring experts from around the world.
The ARLS included experts from within and outside of SEU who supported the upskilling of our organization and members on the topics of race, racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. The response was overwhelming, from the record number of attendees to the caliber of the learning conversations, that were both thoughtful and curiously intercultural. Conversations on race, racism and racial justice are difficult and complex, and can be uncomfortable. The organization stepped into this dialogue with empathy and a demonstrated commitment to learning. While it felt like an extremely bold move to host frank and passionate discussions, the members of the organization demonstrated their readiness through their participation, praise, and engagement.
Highlights of the SEU Anti-racism Learning Series
Highlights from the series begin with the inaugural session featuring, Kelli McLoud Schingen from the US, Farzana Nayani from Canada, Josephine Apraku from Germany, and Juliana Santos Wahlgren the Senior Advocacy Officer – Acting Director from the European Network Against Racism. In this session, the panelists set the context for this discussion by outlining the global impact of the death of George Floyd and the global racial reckoning. The panelists also shared the relevance of anti-racism work within the intercultural field, and how practitioners in the intercultural can grow.
Another highlight was the two part series on Whiteness, Fragility and the Culture of Niceness with Natasha Aruliah, JEDDI (Justice, Equity, Decolonising, Diversity and Inclusion) Specialist. Natasha’s webinars were illuminating and equipped the audience with knowledge about whiteness and whiteness supremacy, and how we can counter and challenge it in our work.
In our final session, “Enhancing equality and countering discrimination, racism and Intolerance: Experiences” featuring a panel discussion with Peter Mousaferiadis, Dr. Katharina Lefringhansen, Tariq Modood, Lynn Mackenzie and Deepak Ramola shared the incredible and diverse work they are doing to raise awareness and address social and racial inequities. I learned so much from each of them and was encouraged to continue my learning journey.
As practitioners in the intercultural field, it is no longer possible to deny the intersections of race and racism with culture and nationality. Together, we can make a difference, and the learning starts with us. The better equipped we are to challenge our own bias and internalized racism, the more effective we will be in our work to support others in their own learning experiences. Revisit the Anti-racism Learning Series, watch your favorites or the sessions you’ve missed. If you missed the series when it first ran, you can access the entire series here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLibGBZXHD4BE0QqBLHpxjFSgSg2ip0x95
Senior Consultant Language and Culture Worldwide