De-Colonising our Minds….

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De-Colonising our Minds Society (SOAS)

Welcome to our latest post, which is dedicated to the critical need for de-colonisation through the educational and entertaining process of reading.

We start with an in-depth reading list that was put together by several participants from the recent Global Community Dialogue in Rwanda. The list is described as “an endeavour to capture and experience different voices, other than those we frequently hear, the dominant White, Western narrative, in order for us to support our own learning and accountability to de-colonising and anti-racism.” The list can be downloaded below:

Around the African continent, there are several great initiatives looking to promote and publish African writers. Among them are Kwani Trust and Story Moja, both based in Kenya, as well as Cassava Republic and Quramo Publishing, both in Nigeria, and African Bureau Stories in Ghana.

In Rwanda, there is an excellent project called Imagine We who are supporting the development of children’s stories written by Rwandans. Please take a look at their list of online books that are available here.

The Golden Baobab is another organisation founded by Deborah Ahenkorah aiming to increase African representation in children’s books. Amongst their activities are the annual Golden Baobab prizes, workshops and publishing. Read about how to get involved with their work here.

A recent book by Sandra Agard for young readers about the anti-slavery campaigner, Harriet Tubman, was published as part of the Trailblazers series and can be accessed here.

Another great children’s book is Mangoes and Monkey Bread, written by Emily Joof, and available in English and Swedish.

Continuing with the theme, we would like to also direct you to a succinct piece written by Alice Nderitu called “Buying a Book? Make that a book by an African for Africans?” as well as re-visiting Gary Younge’s excellent piece called “My Year of Reading African Women”.

We close with another comment from the “De-Colonising our Minds Reading List”, the following statement also applies to this whole post,

“We wish it to be of benefit and value in many ways and in particular in challenging the dominant narratives and ideologies that given rise to the need for creating this list in the first place. Have fun, be inspired and de-colonise… always!”

16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence

Hello again! Looking at media reports it seems like the number of cases of GBV are escalating, or maybe it is cases that are reported, which are at last going up. You can review this page for the latest GBV statistics from most parts of the world that show no one is immune. As we mark the 16 days of activism against GBV, we will share some resources that could inform your approach. You can read more on the history of these campaigns which originated in memory of three sisters who were murdered for their activism in the Dominican republic in 1960. We think this campaign should be a a daily campaign, as the data shared above shows startling numbers!

  • In this video, Dr Emma Fulu advises on what factors perpetuate GBV, what works in GBV prevention work and how GBV impacts on SDGs.
  • Among the most potentially influencial stakeholders in ending GBV are religious communities and leaders. SONKE Gender Justice, a South African organisation shares case studies from Indonesia, Uganda and Lebanon that holds some lessons for us on how we can influence this space. You can access these case studies here.

This crisis of violence against women and children is a great shame on our nation. It goes against our African values and everything we stand for as a people. We grew up being taught that as men and boys we must respect women and protect children. We were taught to never, ever raise your hand against a woman. But we have lost our way. Our communities are in the grip of violence against those we are supposed to protect. We are here today to unite under the theme: ‘Enough is Enough.’ Because we have truly had enough.”

South African President Cyril Rampahosa (2019)

Emma Fulu – GBV impacts on SDGs

Celebrating Women’s Contributions

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Because we live in a patriarchal world, where women’s achievements and contributions are often not acknowledged and properly celebrated, and because we should celebrate both female and male trailblazers everyday (not just once or twice a year!), we are sharing some inspiring stories of women leading radical change from all over the world….

Firstly, the BBC 100 Women 2019 has recently come out and can be accessed here.  You can also have a look through last year’s list here. We acknowledge that this does not cover all the amazing work women are doing globally and whom we celebrate as well!

In Sudan, the very active role of women in this year’s protests, uprising and pro-democracy movement has been very inspiring and SIHA (Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa) recently organised a 3 day Conference on the theme of “Sudan Women Convening: Re-Building Sudan.”  Please read about the Conference here and check SIHA’s excellent publication “Women in Islam“.  A selection of articles from the journal are also available online here.

Please also read Nesrine Malik’s excellent article about the complexity of women’s imagery in the revolution called “She’s an icon of Sudan’s revolution; but the woman in white obscures vital truths.”

Since 30th April 1977, courageous women in Argentina have been protesting the disappearance and murder of thousand’s of their children in the military dictatorship of the time.  More than 40 years later, their struggle for justice continues; please read more about it here.

We would also like to honour the many Liberian women who forced the peace process to finally succeed in 2003.  Some of their story is captured in the article, “Women; Liberia’s Guardian’s of Peace.”

Current protests in Lebanon are also being led by women and you can read more on this in “the Revolution is a Woman.”

Finally, here is a fascinating piece about women in the ongoing protests in Hong Kong called “How Hong Kong’s female protesters are reclaiming the “basic bitch” stereotype.”

These are just a few stories of inspiring women that we have gathered.  We leave you with some inspiration from 19th Century Icon Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth quote: Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little...

Marking World Mental Health Day 2019

Hello all.  We hope you have been well?

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World Mental Health Day Poster

On 10th October, the world is marking this important day. The theme for 2019 is ‘Focus on Suicide Prevention’ .The aim of the day is to raise awareness on the magnitude of suicide globally, and the roles individuals and the society at large can play to prevent/reduce this. The statistics are alarming, with someone losing their life to suicide every 40 seconds. And more glaring is the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among the youth. A high incidence of suicide has been recorded globally, including in Africa and especially among men. 

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Approach to suicide prevention by SPRC

 

Finally, please also read Arsenal defender Emma Mitchell’s touching story on her own personal battle with depression here.

We welcome you to share any resources and contacts of organisations that provide free or affordable mental healthcase services from around the word that we can share here for people to access, if need be (apart from those shared above). Let us support each other!

Looking around the D & I online space

Greetings everyone.  For this post, we wanted to share a few great articles and pieces of work that can be found elsewhere online.  This is to acknowledge some of the wonderful work happening out there… so here goes:

We start in Bangladesh by exploring the work of the very dynamic BRAC who have recently published some powerful articles related to different aspects of Inclusion on the wonderfully-named Blog, The Good Feed.  These include the following:

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In the Horn of Africa region and beyond, the SIHA network is another thought leader and a lot can be found in their ground-breaking journal, Women in Islam.  Recent featured articles are:

We would also like to recommend Re-Link’s Deepa Agarwal who wrote a comprehensive piece on Linked In called De-Mystifying Inclusion for Beginners: A Practical Guide.

In her blog, Rebeka Steele has compiled various articles relating to Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace, which you can access here.

Finally, on the GQS website, Rebecca Shulte has compiled Embrace Diversity and Inclusion: the Top D & I must reads for 2019.

Enjoy your reading!

Avoiding ‘Check box Diversity’

Hello all

We hope you are keeping well?

This week we share an article that seeks to push organisations from a diversity focus to an inclusion focus. And a second one that shows the evolving nature of many aspects in inclusion, hence the need to relax and learn/ unlearn!

  1. Please read this article on ‘Checkbox diversity must be left behind for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to succeed’ by Nicole Anand. She recommends three tactics that will dismantle inequitable systems:
  • We must embrace the complexity of diversity – ‘Everyone has a unique lived experience that shapes the way they manage projects, collaborate in teams, create social programs, and advocate for causes’.
  • Design processes that works for marginalised persons, not only the organisation – ‘Consider designing a multi-step process that first makes the process accessible to marginalised people. Also focus on illuminating and celebrating their assets, such as those related to learning styles, communication capabilities, resilience, and determination. Finally, encourage a sense of belonging by taking an interest in how they think through problems and making decisions to then mainstream those practices’.
  • Understand the ‘inclusion challenge’ is what is desirable – it is a process before it becomes realisable. ‘The goal is not assimilation but inclusion and collaboration for expanded thinking and unconventional action’.
  • Celebrate people, not boxes – Historically marginalized people have often been lauded as innovative. However, beneath the surface we may find biases that underpin the way these achievements were measured—the celebration may be of a “box” rather than the real human placed in it.

2. We also share a second article on inclusive language from the Australian Network of Disability. Apart from the need to focus on the person and not the impairment (‘person with a disability’ rather than ‘disabled’), various issues are also raised:

  • Don’t use language that implies a person with disability is inspirational simply because they experience disability – Implying that a person with disability is courageous or special just for getting through the day is patronising and offensive.

  • Conversely, don’t  make out persons with disability as victims or objects of pity. Examples of ‘negative’ language  include “suffering from”, “struck down by”, and “afflicted by/with”. Remove the emotion from the language, for example, “Paul experiences depression”, “Ravi developed Multiple Sclerosis”, or “Katya has epilepsy”.
  • Disclosure or declaration of disability can imply secrets and lies. Use the simple phrase “choose to share information about their disability/impairment”, when talking about a person’s choice to let their employer or colleagues know about their disability or specific requirements.
  • Avoid euphemisms and made up words like ‘differently abled’, ‘disAbility’, ‘special needs’ which may be considered patronising, even when well intentioned.
  • Change focus from disability to accessibility. Accessibility Plans or Access and Inclusion Plans, rather than Disability Action Plans makes the focus much more inclusive, and incorporates the diverse range of people who may have access needs, including older people, parents and carers, pregnant women etc. Car parks, lifts and bathrooms can be described as accessible, rather than disabled or handicapped.
  • Above all, relax and don’t get caught up too much on semantics!  In any case, language and terminologies differ between contexts and countries.  For example, some will prefer the term “Persons with Disabilities” (putting the person before the disability), whilst others will prefer to say “Disabled People” (emphasizing that society disables people who are otherwise capable or able).
  • The most important thing is to simply focus on the person, rather than the disability. Don’t be so afraid of saying the wrong thing that you don’t say anything at all.  And don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not sure!

Tribute to Toni Morrison

On 5th August 2019, the world lost one of its’ great writers and icons, Toni Morrison, the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.  At Embrace Everyone, we would like to encourage our readers to reflect on her impact and legacy with a series of quotes and articles dedicated to her.

Firstly, some powerful tributes from leading writers published in the UK Guardian here.  You can also read a comprehensive story of her life in Wikipedia here.

Toni Morrison

Quoted in herstory is this powerful tribute from Barack Obama:

“Time is no match for Toni Morrison. In her writing, she sometimes toyed with it, warping and creasing it, bending it to her masterful will. In her life’s story, too, she treated time non-traditionally… Toni didn’t publish her first novel until she was 39 years old. From there followed an ascendant career — a Pulitzer, a Nobel, and so much more — and with it, a fusion of the African American story within the American story. Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful—a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. And so even as Michelle & I mourn her loss & send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories — that our stories — will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time.”

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Read a short assessment of her impact here, where the author acknowledges that such a piece cannot really do justice to the topic.  The same blog also gives a comprehensive list of all her work: her Novels, Children’s Literature, Plays and One Short Story

Toni Morrison died aged 88 after living a rich and purposeful life; may she continue to inspire millions of people all over the world to live with impact and may her soul rest in eternal peace.

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