Changing Times……

Image result for diversity and inclusion images

For this post, we focus on three initiatives that encourage us to think some social norms are changing… and changing fast and for the better.

Afro-Queer is a podcast about queer Africans living, loving, surviving and thriving on the African continent and in the diaspora.   You can read about and listen to any of the eight episodes in the first season here.   You can also read more about the background to Afro-Queer and the team behind it here.

Launched in 2012, the Inclusive Mosque Initiative is dedicated to creating places of worship for marginalised communities, spiritual practice and the promotion of inclusive Islamic principles.  Have a look at some of the great articles on their blog here.

Towards the end of 2018, Woni Spotts became the first Black woman to have reached every country and every continent in the world.  Read about her story here.   Another person laying claim to this is Jessica Nabongo who is likely to also complete all 195 countries in the coming months – her story is documented here.   Finally, still on the subject of travel, please have a look at some of the blogs featured under the post 11 Black Travel Bloggers you Should Know.

“Sometimes you are a Caterpillar…” Animation, Superheroes and Inclusion

Social Inclusion advocacy and messaging comes via a range of channels. We find the animation and movies industry fascinating as both hold immense potential as avenues to provoke discussion and reflection, and ultimately to influence societal norms and culture for change. We will share a few videos and movies you could watch out for (noting the Parental Guidance advisory if watching with children!)!

  1.  Sometimes you are a caterpillar…brilliant messaging on why inclusion matters! Let us know what you think! This video was done courtesy of Chescaleigh and Kat Blaque

2. By now many of us have watched Black Panther – The Movie. There was a lot of discussion on how the cast and the plot impacted on inclusion and diversity – you can read this article Black Panther: Superheroes and Inclusion.

‘By including characters of African, Indigenous, and Asian descent, comic producers appealed to a whole new audience. These minorities weren’t represented in movies nor comics. When they started to be included, these ethnic minorities started to feel legitimised and recognised…Greater diversity on screens will make our society more tolerant and diverse as a whole‘.

Marvel has now released an animated version of a ‘Black Panther’ TV Series. More on the animated series here. 

Black Panther cast

3. Netflix is also working on an all girl superhero African animation series. Mama K’s Team 4 tells the story of four teen girls living in the neo-futuristic African city of Lusaka, Zambia who are recruited by a retired secret agent still committed to saving the world. The series joins Netflix’s growing slate of original animated programming designed for kids and families everywhere, by artists from around the world. Mama K’s Team 4 is created by Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema, who was one of eight winners in the Triggerfish Story Lab initiative in 2015, a pan-african talent search. Watch this space!

4. Traditionally, African stories were shared by folklore and these are gradually being captured on various media. Lyndsey Chutel decries the dearth of representation in animated films in her article ‘ Cartoons for African children are frozen by a lack of funding and imagination’. The Binoandfino website has responded to this by compiling this ‘A list of Africa Focused Children’s Animation Featuring African Lead Characters’. We have not yet watched most of these. Let us know which ones are your favourites!

We welcome you to share any other social inclusion related animations and comics from the diverse cultures represented in the EmbraceEveryone family!

 

Doing Diversity & Inclusion better

We recently had a discussion on the global trends in Social Inclusion work – or Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) work as commonly known. We will summarise a few articles from thought leaders who have articulated these trends and shared recommendations on what works well. We would love to receive your thoughts, articles and even videos that articulate these trends and approaches. Especially those with a regional focus so that we can interrogate further on context.

  1. Eight truths on D&I - Deloitte
    Eight truths on D&I – Deloitte (2018)

    We love how Lucy Adams (Disruptive HR) articulates the trends in her article ‘Fresh Approaches to D&I’. So, why do traditional approaches to D&I rarely have much of an impact? Have a look at the below to see if you can identify an approach you have implemented.

  • Compliance approach, where D&I is driven by the numbers. We set targets for increasing numbers of X, Y or Z and document these in action plans. Numbers can become our only focus. A Compliance approach can hold people accountable – but we also create a punitive culture which can drive leaders to some short-term choices that aren’t really building inclusion.
  • Charismatic Personality approach where D&I is tied to the championship by one individual. It’s great when a leader cares passionately about a particular issue. Their status and their energy can shine a light on a cause, and you seem suddenly to be able to move mountains after years of being ignored! The downside is when they move on (or find another cause …) and things revert to relative indifference.
  • Fix The Difference approach which is pretty common. Our focus is all about helping the minority rather than engaging with the majority and changing implicit norms and culture.

  • Shaming and Finger Wagging approach where leaders and colleagues who don’t behave in the right ways or use the right language are placed in the spotlight to encourage them to change. Discriminatory or offending behaviour should be called out. However anything that discourages open discussion or leads people to be disingenuous for fear of saying the wrong thing is a problem.
  • Busy Bees approach where we flood our organisations with numerous initiatives and programmes. A lot of this energy gets diluted through the multiplicity of activity. Not only can this be confusing and exhausting but often these programmes are seeking short term results and are superficial rather than a long-term programme to achieve genuine culture change.

2. The Stanford Social Innovation review contributes to the discussion by outlining Practical Ideas for Improving Equity and Inclusion for Non Profits. by Emily Teitsworth. Among the suggestions she gives includes letting go of opportunities to allow others with diverse voices to also be heard. ‘Relatively small choices…can directly combat the inequitable distribution of resources. Making space for others to succeed is a revolutionary act; without it, other efforts to advance inclusion can’t prosper’

3. Lastly, we will share this link to The Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide which all practitioners can contextualise and will find useful in building inclusive practice.

Embedding equity and inclusion within your organisation – The A.E. Casey Foundation

Enjoy the read!

 

Inter-Sectionality – What is it?

“There is no such thing as a single issue struggle as we do not live single issue lives” – Audre Lorde, African-American writer, feminist and civil rights activist.

We are dedicating this post to discussion and debate on Inter-Sectionality, a term that has been in use since 1989 but one that is not well understood beyond a few circles…

Social Inclusion, the inspiration for this blog, is deeply about Inter-Sectionality – it aims to understand the importance of not seeing the wide range of issues of Exclusion and Oppression in isolation from each other and, critically, not in competition with each other.  As was famously said many times, “oppression is oppression is oppression.”

In brief, many factors impact an individual’s experience, some of the key ones are detailed in the diagram below:

Image result for intersectionality

The term Inter-Sectionality was first coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 with particular reference to the inter-section between Race and Gender experienced by Black women.

More recently, a powerful book about British racism written by Reni Eddo-Lodge called “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about Race” refers in depth to the importance of inter-sectionality when discussing structural racism and feminism.  An extract from the book published by the Guardian in late 2017 can be read here and her blog can be accessed here.

Finally, please take some time to watch Kimberle Crenshaw’s TED Talk entitled “The Urgency of Inter-Sectionality” below:

Accessible Jordan, Radio Shams, Rubbish Artist of Zarzis and Universal Values

Hello,

This week, we turn our attention to some wonderful initiatives and leaders in North Africa and the Middle East.

  • Ms Aya Aghabi (pictured above) founded the website page “Accessible Jordan” in 2017 and now has over 33,000 places listed in terms of their accessibility to People with Disabilities.  In her own words, “my hope is that this website encourages the Jordanian government and all business owners to work on the accessibility of spaces to make Jordan inclusive for all people.  I also hope that this website will make it easier for people with disabilities from all around the world to come and visit Jordan.”  You can read more about Aya’s initiative in a piece from Arab Weekly here.

 

  • Shams Rad is a radio station in Tunisia known as the Arab world’s only LGBT radio station and broadcasts across 15 countries in the region.  Read more about the station in a BBC article here and follow their Facebook page here.

 

  • Still in Tunisia, Al-Jazeera has a great feature called “The Rubbish Artist of Zarzis” about the remarkable story of Mr Mohsen Lihidheb, a former Post Office worker who has dedicated his life to preserving the Environment and promoting human rights for Refugees, Women and other disadvantaged groups.

 

  • We also honour and celebrate the life of Mr Raed Fares, former radio host/ Manager (Radio Fresh FM) and activist from Syria who was gunned down on 23 November 2018 in Idlib Province. Read about him here

    ”Take his response to another of the powerful jihadist group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham/JFS’s demands, to get rid of women news readers – who are also haram, they say. Has he, I ask him, agreed to swap the women for men? “No, I have another solution for that issue. We simply put their voices through a computer software program which makes them sound like men.”

  • Finally, from Yemen. Please take a few minutes to listen to a beautiful Tedx talk by Ms Zuha Al-Hammadi  on Universal Values here … The video is in Arabic – for subtitles in English, please click the cc icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the you tube screen after you have pressed play. Enjoy!

 

Embracing the Other

I hope you are enjoying 2019 so far. Thank you again for your support over the past few years!

What are we looking at this January?

  • A TED talk by Claudia Gordon on owning and embracing otherness. Claudia, the first deaf black female attorney in the United States, beautifully shares on how we can be more authentic, and at peace with our our self. ‘I resist objectification as the other, I also embrace it…’

Claudia Gordon, a native of Jamaica West Indies, graduated with honors from Howard University in Washington, DC in 1995 and went on to complete law school with honors at American University’s Washington College of Law in 2000. She recounts her childhood in the West Indies, her search for identity while grappling with audism in a hearing college, and her ongoing quest to create spaces in society for seldom-heard voices. Claudia Gordon is a Director of Government and Compliance with Sprint Accessibility.

  • We would also love to share an insightful research by RADAID Research, available here.  The research confronts a major issue; how can we share dignified images and information on the people and communities we work with and still secure funding or gain traction in our advocacy? How can we do better?

Questions to Consider when using Peoples Images

  • Lastly, Rasna Warah confronts white privilege and issue based activism that ignores the political context in her article Visas, Africanists and White Privilege. ‘When poverty, underdevelopment or human rights abuses are depoliticised – i.e. taken out of the realm of politics – they become problems that have technical, not political, solutions’. Read the article here
  • We would love it if you could take a few minutes of your time to complete our Survey HERE . Your feedback is invaluable to help us to improve Embrace Everyone for better impact.  Many thanks!