The panel explores how storytelling approaches can help build a collective case against racism.
‘The axe forgets what the tree remembers but [in the case of everyday racism] the analogy is more like the parasitic worm that damages the tree from within or the headwind that makes everything so much harder, so much more exhausting. It overlooks the polite racism of liberal allies, of the language and the policies that excuse and perpetuate racial injustice; it ignores the unconscious in unconscious bias.’
Professor Mindy Chen-Wishart, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, describes the frustration and humiliation of being at the receiving end of everyday racism – even as a sucessful senior academic – during this event to launch the Help End Everyday Racism (HEER) initiative in Oxford.
Launched by the new Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Professor Irene Tracey, HEER in Oxford is part of the University-wide Race Equality Strategy, developed by the Race Equality Taskforce. It imitates and learns from the initiative of the same name in Cambridge, led by Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa, Associate Professor in Sociology, and Ella McPherson, Associate Professor in the Sociology of New Media and Digital Technology, both speakers at this event. Along with Professor Chen-Wishart and Professor Kam Bhui, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, they discuss the importance of a storytelling and supportive approach that both generates knowledge about what everyday racism is and points the way to ways of tackling it collectively.
Key themes include the need to listen to racialised minorities and not to react defensively; the understanding that racism is not just white supremacy: it behaves differently in different spaces; and the need for action. Although it is tempting for academics in higher education institutions to continue to collect data, ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good; justice delayed is justice denied, and you can only steer a moving car.'