“We know that today racism is sustained more through law, policy and practices than through individual bias and discrimination” –Jasmine Gonzales Rose (Boston University Law Professor)
Critical Race Theory is a study of the USA’s policies and institutions. The central idea of the theory is that racial biases are not biological or unconscious, but are baked into society through structures that protect racial biases. Ideas within the theory describe how American racism has seeped into policies and legal systems with negative consequences on BIPOC people.
What does race being a “social construct” mean?
Previously, it was believed that Blacks are (for lack of a better term) lower humans. This hierarchical nature of classifying humans had deep roots in society. It was even supported by scientific research provided by respected experts. However, this is old news and has been debunked by newer research. What is unfortunate is that there are people who still hold such beliefs in modern times.
Critical Race Theory agrees with the new research. It says that genes (ex: Black genes), and biological composition has nothing to do with a person’s racial bias; what promotes racism is the presence of structures that hinder one group of people, in this case Blacks, and give multiple opportunities to another group, particularly European descendent whites. CRT recognizes the presence of systemic inequality even in present times and highlights what most people know as white privilege.
The goal of critical race theorists is simple: to remove racism-inspired policies and eliminate the enduring effects such as segregation and the absence of equity created by a society with a racist history. Basically, the objective is a society where diversity is not a problem, and inclusiveness is existent.
DEI work revolves around helping institutions, organizations, and communities embrace a multicultural setting while still thriving in their achievement of unique but inclusive objectives. A microscopic view is not required to see how the ideas of the two concepts (DEI & CRT) intertwine. Generally, both concepts promote allyship (a term used to describe activities that support inclusion).
According to forbes.com, “an ally is any person that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole.”
Becoming an ally of the Black community and taking action to build an inclusive company culture is what Tough Convos has set out to help you do. The Code of a Black Ally campaign is one of the first efforts launched by Tough Convos to give employees and leaders - the people that make up the companies we’re talking about - a foundation on which to build their allyship at work and in life.
What is the Code of a Black Ally?
The Code of a Black Ally is a set of thirteen principles to guide and empower individuals to take responsibility for their part in unlearning, growing and standing up for each other irrespective of race. By actively breaking down structural and systemic racism within organizations, social structures and governments, the uniqueness and differences of non-white folks will be seen as strengths, and access to equal opportunities will significantly increase.
The proposed principles of The Code of a Black Ally are as follows:
Promote equal rights and demand justice for all.
Denounce institutionalized racism and white supremacy.
Show up and call out systemic, overt or covert racism.
Diversify your network with a variety of Black people.
Learn about Black history, experiences and realities.
Inspect your unconscious biases and social training.
Have tough conversations with coworkers, friends and peers.
Refrain from dismissing the validity of others' values.
Appeal for curriculum reform to include Black history.
Remove barriers in business to Black advancement.
Use your privilege(s) and power for good to influence others.
Maintain your integrity despite peer judgement.
Lead by example and support leaders for change.
Collectively, the principles of COBA emphasize activities that would create a more diverse and inclusive environment in a company, school, non profit organization, government agency or family for that matter.
Why is CRT important in the workplace?
To understand the importance of CRT in the workplace, it is beneficial to see the principles/tenets presented by CRT:
Race is a social construct not biological hence all people are equal and none inferior biologically.
Racism is structural, part of institutions and social training and as such affects how we interact in our personal and work lives.
Racism is not uncommon but rather the norm as we’ve been taught to value certain races more than others.
Racism is systematically carried out in society and colour blindness is not a reality but another inequality.
Racism is lived experience of Black and brown people whose realities and stories matter to the elimination of racial inequalities.
DEI training founded upon ideas from CRT help to educate people on the presence of inequalities that are built into the normal organizational structures such as the lesser percentage of non-white people in key leadership areas. Teachings like these help create actionable methods that fight problems arising from such inequality. Inclusive cultures that produce equity are built on anti-racist, culturally intelligent leaders and policies. Allyship is the vehicle, the product, the result of understanding CRT as the foundation of anti-racism; and COBA is the actionable path to get there.
Our Gift to You: The Code of a Black Ally
As part of our mission to create a more inclusive workplace and community too, we have made available The Code of a Black Ally as a downloadable PDF. It's a guide that outlines how to apply CRT principles in your daily life at work and home. You can download the pdf
by clicking on our resources section
and start applying these ideas today!