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December 2022: Practicing Anti-racism at Work

If you were able to join one of our November conversations, thank you. We hope you found the discussions about the #LANDBACK movement and how we can support Indigenous communities as meaningful as we all did. This month we’re going to use the criticism of the British monarchy after the death of Queen Elizabeth as a way to start looking at white supremacy in the workplace. After the Queen's death, Dr. Uju Anya, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote a post on Twitter that pointed out the colonialist, racist legacy of the British monarchy. As detailed in this article in The Guardian, Jeff Bezos quoted and criticized Dr. Anya's tweet and the resulting visibility unleashed a stream of social media and email attacks on Dr. Anya. Twitter deleted her original post and also banned her from the network. Unfortunately, Dr. Anya’s employer, Carnegie Mellon University, did not choose to publicly support her in this moment, and instead issued a statement on Twitter saying that the university did "not condone the offensive and objectionable messages" posted by Dr. Anya. This lack of support is not unusual. From microaggressions to outright racism, the workplace can be unpleasant and often toxic for BIPOC folx. This has even led to a reluctance of many BIPOC office workers to return to onsite work as the pandemic subsides. As we examine, question and try to move beyond our white racial conditioning, let’s explore ways we can help bring an antiracist practice into the workplace. Here are some prompts to help focus our thoughts, inspired by The Guardian article linked above:

  1. What is your reaction(s) to Dr. Uju Anya’s original tweet, “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving, raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.”?

  2. What does it look like to hold our reaction to Dr. Anya’s tweet AND respect/validate the truth of her lived experience?

  3. How could Carnegie Mellon University have supported Dr. Anya?

  4. How do power dynamics impact antiracism efforts in a work environment?

  5. What price do we (white people) pay when white supremacy is allowed to go unchecked in the workplace?

  6. What are some ways you do/can support BIPOC folx in the workplace?

We recognize that not everyone can speak to an experience in a workplace and that’s okay. Come share your thoughts on how Dr. Anya was treated and, as always, if the prompt doesn’t inspire you, come to a December gathering anyway and share whatever is on your mind.

We look forward to being in conversation with you as we close out 2022 and hope you'll invite a friend or family member to join us.

"When we talk about allyship... it’s not just saying, ‘Hey, I support you,’ quietly...Being an ally is about having a voice and standing up when you see injustice.” - Kimberly B. Cummings, a corporate diversity and inclusion professional and founder of Manifest Yourself


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