Dr. Robin DiAngelo filmed talk on White Fragility – The most impactful thing you will watch this year.

Let it in.

If you only look at one long learning video this summer to get better informed about a vast problem that can be changed – you’ve found it.

Dr. Robin DiAngelo talking about the content of her book White Fragility. (90 minutes.)

Dr. Robin DiAngelo White Fragility

Here is the link; http://seattlechannel.org/videos?videoid=x93076

Punchy, intelligently delivered to break patterns, disrupt and pierce the armour of racial comfort, this film names many of the false victim scripts that maintain a conspiracy of continuation and deliberate dominance by all white people – old timers, woke whites, progressives and millenials.

Obligatory viewing for anyone in the diversity, community or intercultural space.

Surrender to the reality and see how you feel.

 

Advertisements

RANT – The Quirkier side of British Culture Part 1

Culture WarningSome of the following is not pretty – If you are an ardent British nationalist or lack a sense of humour, please look away now. All stories have been gathered from conversations in the training room both in the UK and abroad.

  1. Avoidance of Confrontation

The Gazpacho is warm and the rack of lamb is cold. The Spanish waiter approaches the diners and asks with a smile, “Is everything okay with your meal?” What do the Brits reply?

“Fine. Everything is lovely”

The waiter walks away, unaware of both the trouble in the kitchen and the two faced lie he has just been told. If he were to listen closely he would hear the bitter mutterings that follow. “Dreadful food. We are never coming here again!” and, “I will destroy this place on TripAdvisor!”

Brits will sometimes go to great  lengths to avoid confrontation. “It could be worse”, “mustn’t grumble” and, “at least we got a nice dessert.”

Which leads us to the most popular and ubiquitous word in the British etiquette lexicon – “Sorry”

Sorry can mean, “I am innoculating myself against a constant downpour of disappointment”, “You have done something wrong but it is me uttering the word sorry so as to avoid violence and carry on with my life.” Or, something else.

A contradictory and more assertive version is employed when sorry is used to mean, “I am apologising for the injustice or hurt that I am about to inflict upon you.”

Cheerful male cafe worker is serving a customer

“Is everything OK with your meal?

  1. The Meal Deal

We have a 20-year-old lunchtime ritual in offices across the land – of queuing up to buy a flat factory made dead sandwich which is full of fat, sugar and chemicals, a tooth rotting and chemical laden bag of crisps, and a pressurised ecologically disastrous plastic bottle of sugar water with artificial colouring, all of which will definitely make you feel worse for having consuming them. All this whilst sat at our desk surfing for kitten videos on YouTube.

The truth is – it’s not a meal and it’s certainly not a deal. A cultural anthropologist or sociologists would take a look at this bizarre British ritual and relate it to another ceremony closer to home. The Meal Deal is, in fact, the fodder found at a 5-year-old child’s birthday party.

I make no attempt at a cultural excuse for the meal deal. Its success is probably based on the temporary chemically induced high it produces in stressed workers suffering from low self-esteem and poor job prospects. These overworked people have been tricked into consuming both the modern work myth as well as the meal deal, as if it were designed to be enjoyable and beneficial.

  1. The Misery Line

The population of London swells by 1000 souls every week or so. Most of them seem to commute on the Northern Underground line. This produces an etiquette maze and one or two cultural phenomena that are hard to fathom for the outsider. In days gone by the savvy commuter employed a broadsheet newspaper as a shield against eye contact, social interaction and to protect a medium-sized personal safety zone. Now necks are bent as the stressed executive watches last night’s documentary on the breakdown of civilisation on an android phone whilst trying to endure the torture of London commuting. Like the 1970’s game “Operation”, where the “surgeon” extracts plastic organs and trying not set off the buzzer, the modern commuter must desperately achieve separation from other humans – contact is NOT desired. In a cultural coaching session held recently with an Indian executive from New Delhi, he became quite upset at this avoidant behaviour saying, “I felt like an untouchable.”

London Train Tube underground station Blur people movement

“Can you move inside please?”

  1. Street Life

You could be mistaken for thinking that the main motivation for earning extra money and collecting work related bonuses was to allow the middle-class family to move away from their town high street as soon as was convenient. The modern scene includes post-war prefabricated shopping centres, pound shops, charity shops and inflation fuelling, morally cauterised estate agents all vying for your attention. And, the most vile of British inventions – The gang of charity workers clogging up the pavement pestering members of the public for signatures and monthly payments to support a wide range of worthy and bizarre causes.

Having developed my presentation and communication skills to become a public speaker, I can proudly claim not to be pestered by the average Chugger – my doom laden scowl (known to make babies cry) and a refusal to engage with the Chugger’s dance, ensure a clean path from the beginning to the end of the high street. I note with incredulity that most people are much nicer than me. Fabricating sugary and polite lies, they attempt to avoid the patronising and manipulative pitch of the Chugger to maintain face all-round and continue on their way, feeling strangely guilty as they get on the move again.

It is the disenfranchised, the sick and the vulnerable who don’t have the energy to escape the gravitational pull. They are sucked into the black hole of the manipulative Chugger script. When next in town listen out for the word “Sorry” spoken by those caught in the Chugger web and see if you can spot the context in which it is being used.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a trainer, speaker and writer, working in more than 30 countries, 4 of which sometimes call themselves the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Matthew is nostalgic for the post war and long dismissed concept of community and neighbourliness, when houses were used for living in, before privileged people came up with the evil idea of exploiting society’s essential workers, vulnerable citizens and the next generation purely for their own undiluted and greedy self-interest, wishing to generate maximum profits by charging unsustainable levels of rent to those that have no choice but to pay it.

 

“Are you for REAL?” Language as a window to our soul – Matthew Hill

bubble of communicationNext year marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the destruction of the Iron Curtain. This year I found myself in many training rooms with people whose parents were most affected by these changes.

A common legacy from those times is an abundance of negative language, even from the mouths of employees in dynamic global companies. I thought it pertinent to revisit negative language and ask, “What’s really going on?”

  1. Stress test

From my time in the Czech Republic a generation ago I finally worked out what the excess of questioning, pessimism and doubtful language really signified. The Soviet context had been one of low expectations, cynicism and a constant diet of untruths disseminated via radio, television and newspaper. When the new country invaders from Germany, France UK and America arrived, their language of promises, short-term sacrifice and future riches must have sounded sickeningly familiar.

Over time it became clearer that the doubting questions, the need for proof and the hesitation were intended to stress test the foreigner’s promises. So the reframe for negative language heard in those times was a simple question, “Are you for REAL?”

  1. Science

Entropy describes the universe in its inexorable journey towards chaos and randomness. Pessimists are often closer to the mark with predictions of the future than their optimistic counterparts. The second reframe of negative language can be to see it as the pure and selfless pursuit of accurate forecasting!

  1. Change

I was working with a large group of people from Central and Eastern Europe recently and, as we began an American open form group exercise, I was hit by a wave of resistant language, critical questions and dire predictions. These individuals were subject matter experts and had been ripped out of their home environment and resettled in downtown London.

The context is important. Their reluctance to perform this random task was a reflection of their hesitation to embrace the change that they faced. They were cautious, fearful and their language betrayed their inhabiting something like a childlike state of not knowing.

  1. A good old moan

There is comfort and a bonding warmth to be found in having a moan, gossiping or whinging about shared circumstances. It is a large part of British small talk and I encounter it frequently when travelling to a new country and meeting a new training group. This seems to be a social attempt to unify diversity through articulating common themes and so building a temporary harmony that fosters the conditions in which a relationship can form. This of course comes with the caveat that it is frequently used for political ends in economically challenging times to unify disparate people to hate one minority, foreigners in general or the government of the day.

  1. Forced positivity

If I were to control your working hours communication with the directive that all of your words have to be optimistic, positive and upbeat, would you comply? For a lot of people this is a reality and their answer is yes. A couple of years ago I used to meet socially with a group of guys from a very famous American pharmaceutical company that pursued this linguistic policy.

What struck me as funny and a little tragic was that, under social circumstances in a Twickenham pub, the other side of their lexicon came out in a torrent. It’s as if, for every forced positive phrase, one negative phrase had to be uttered later to restore their inner peaceful balance.

  1. Permitted negativity.

There are 2 examples that stick in my mind. The first are some famous fictional detective figures that have full permission from society to be grumpy old men. Their surly belligerence is portrayed as a essential part of sleuthing genius and their tortuous ability to always get their man.

The second example is much more dangerous. In my UK trainings it is the overtly racist exchanges between English and French executives or the permitted taunts between groups of men and groups of women. The third horror is to be found in the inter-departmental jibes as, for instance, between sales and marketing.

Under the guise of banter, badinage and permitted cheek, these exchanges seem intended as proof of a trusting in-group bond but feel sadly like a rain of micro-inequities and acts of aggression.

Conclusion

Negative phrases provide a fabulous opportunity to ask, “What lies beneath the surface conversation?” Certainly from my time in the Czech Republic it was possible to separate the human from their words and the human’s intention from their deeper fears.

Matthew Hill is an author, trainer, coach and public speaker.