Anti-discrimination: a volunteer's reflection
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
In this blog, Elena Gebhard, president of our local committee in York and a volunteer with Sing Inside, provides her personal reflections on attending one of Sing Inside’s ongoing anti-discrimination and unconscious bias workshops provided by Strawberry Words. If you have any questions, suggestions or thoughts about Sing Inside’s work in this space, please contact Maisie and we will be more than happy to discuss.
I think it is fair to say that 2020 was an eye-opening year for all of us in very many ways. The Black Lives Matter movement prompted highly important conversations about the systemic injustices faced by many people all over the world. At Sing Inside we have been working to develop our understanding of these issues and strengthen our overall goal to break down as many prejudices and barriers between people as possible. One part of this work has been to provide training to introduce us to these issues and help us to challenge the prejudices we might hold towards others.
Members of the Sing Inside executive team and some members of the local committees (including myself) alongside other volunteers took part in an anti-discrimination workshop led by Rebbecca from Strawberry Words. The workshop introduced us to a multitude of different forms of discrimination we might enact or experience in our everyday lives, some more familiar than others. We were given scenarios to discuss in subgroups and asked to identify the different types of discrimination the person in the scenario was faced with. By the end of the conversation, it was rather shocking to realise how easily someone can be discriminated against based solely on unchangeable and uncontrollable things like skin colour, origins and upbringing. The discussions that followed in the larger group proved to be very insightful into how these different forms of discrimination all combine to create an unfavourable and unjust system for those who do not comply with what society deems to be the ‘correct’ characteristics.
The thing that struck me the most, however, was the way in which the workshop highlighted the variety of ways our own actions might be causing harms to others, whether intentionally or not. By introducing us to concepts of the unconscious bias and microaggressions, Rebbecca prompted some deep thoughts and self-reflection for me about how my own perception and opinions of the world influence behaviour towards others. It made me and other participants realise that we need to be transparent and completely honest about our own actions if we are to ever create real change.
Overall, for me there are two main takeaways from the workshop: Firstly, as important as it is to call out unjust behaviour of others, it is fundamental that we take a look at our own lives and actions and examine the ways in which our own behaviour might be contributing to an unjust system. Change starts in your own home.
Secondly, education really is the best way forward when it comes to trying to reach a wider audience and effect meaningful change. This workshop provided all of us with valuable information on the subtle ways in which discrimination can materialise and highlighted how it really is our collective responsibility to take proactive action against anything and everything of the sort.
Before I finish, a big thank you to Rebbecca for leading this workshop and thank you to Sing Inside for actively and honestly engaging in important conversations that need to be held.