This is the conclusion of many workshops, conferences and articles designed to help us to deepen our understanding, raise our awareness and develop more effective anti-racist practices.
The problem is what Professor Kehinde Andrews calls ‘The Psychosis of Whiteness‘. Whiteness as a historical process that perhaps can be unpicked, understood and transformed.
But Professor Andrews also says that ‘whiteness is not just for whites’.
It is not just about the skin tones of individuals, but about historical processes of othering, domination and exploitation which are still alive and well, perhaps in more covert and subtle ways that are no less powerful. The first recorded slaves were the Slavs.
The problem is perhaps the human tendency to dominate, exploit and dehumanise in search of safety, security and power. To secure power over. Domination and exploitation are not restricted to members of our own species. We will dominate and exploit anything if it meets our needs. Meetings, conferences, other species, ecosystems, planets, space… This tendency towards violence is in us. Part of our biology.
Part of our biology. Part of our evolutionary past. And our evolutionary future depends on us transcending it, quickly.
Recognising that domination and exploitation cannot be sustained. That our facility with violence has to be replaced with our facility to love, to care to nurture.
And this facility to love has to recognise the ripples, the tsunamis, from the past that still rage through our modern societies, organisations and our psyches, leading to exclusion and discrimination, allowing us to find ways to listen deeply and change how we behave. Change how we are. To be different. To learn how we develop power with and power to…create a better future.
And for me this is at the root of our work with the NHS Leadership Academy’s Reciprocal Mentoring for Inclusion Programme, where we bring together members of the ‘in power’ group, senior leaders, ‘bosses’ with a broad coalition of people ‘staff’ who feel less powerful, left behind, through race, gender, sexuality, age, disability or any other characteristic that to them feels relevant. Even the language of ‘bosses’ and ‘staff’ are deeply rooted in models of power, domination and exploitation.
Our starting point with Reciprocal Mentoring is not to induce the feeling that ‘You are the problem’. More that ‘We have a problem’ and the only way to explore it is to learn to talk together and change and to transcend the domination instinct. That by changing the way we relate to each other in the present, with a shared and growing awareness of history and human nature, we may be able to create a better, more loving and inclusive future that realises the ambition of the NHS Constitution that Everyone Counts.
We maximise our resources for the benefit of the whole community, and make sure nobody is excluded, discriminated against or left behind. We accept that some people need more help, that difficult decisions have to be taken – and that when we waste resources we waste opportunities for others.NHS Constitution