Racism Is a Business

July 25, 2017, 5:49 PM UTC

“Racism is a business.”

So begins this fascinating op-ed video from Akala, an English rapper, poet, and activist, who tackles everyday racism by linking it to the centuries of marketing and public relations designed to support the idea that white is right and everyone else is a problem.

You can watch it here. It’s well worth your time.

“White Jesus” gets a shout-out, as does the slave trade, white savior motifs in films, the news media’s willingness to portray black people as drug dealers and thugs, and the multi-billion dollar skin bleaching industry. (Forty percent of Chinese women and 77% of Nigerian women bleach their skin, according to the World Health Organization.)

His point? The marketing of the supremacy of whiteness is a real business and has affected the way all of us think for centuries.

But it’s the little things that will get you down today.“Everyday racism is the normalized experience that we encounter daily based on our difference from the white norm,” he says. Akala talks about his own experiences with slights and worse, from the police, professors, people on the street – and calls out those moments when he finds himself looking at others with suspicion. “Now in the context of global injustice, these might seem trivial, but in fact, these daily hostilities lay the ground for much larger systemic violence.”

I’d originally clicked on the video thinking that he would offer tactics for managing these encounters in the moment. I was surprised and delighted to discover I was wrong. His answer is the only correct one: Just do the work. No short cuts. “Racism seems to be one of the only problems that some people, conveniently, believe that we can solve without first analyzing its cause and plotting its destruction as any concerned doctor would with any other disease.”

His call to action is a reminder that intent matters – in advertising, media, art, leadership, and everyday conversation. “We must understand the relationship between top down propaganda and the bias that we carry,” he says. “Fighting prejudice both in society and within ourselves is a key part of the search for justice.”

As always, thank you for the work you’re doing. Today, I’ll be doing mine, with my new favorite artist, Akala, rapping in the background. I’ve decided that he’s probably my cousin, and I should support the family. It seems like the right thing to do.

On Point

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We see Detroit just fine, thank you
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“Girls Trip” pulls in $30 million over the weekend, and white people like films with black people in them, okay?
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Hollywood Reporter

A new CDC report shows that black and Native women in the U.S. are more likely to die by homicide than other ethnicities
The agency examined homicide statistics in 18 states between 2003 and 2014. While the overall homicide rate for women was found to be 2 per every 100,000 women, the rate soared to 4.4 per 100,000 women for black women. For indigenous and Alaska Native women it was 4.3 per 100,000 – which doesn’t account for the extraordinary number of Native women who disappear and remain unaccounted for. 

The Woke Leader

When jobs have a gender
Turns out gender bias disadvantages everybody. In a welcome addition to the reams of research showing how gender bias impacts women at work, a new study shows that when certain jobs are considered to be “female” like nurses, they are afforded less authority, even if they are held by a man. The study also addresses how jobs become gendered. In an examination of the experiences of microfinance loan officers, a relatively new job category which is ambiguously gendered, found that clients who worked with a female loan officer were more likely to miss loan payments than those who worked with male officers.
The Conversation

A profile of Uber’s Bozoma Saint John appears in the Style Section
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New York Times

Five ways to diversify your leadership strategy
People leave organizations because of culture, say talent experts Steve Frost and Danny Kalman. Does your culture allow diverse talent to thrive? Their main point: One size fits all leadership development strategies tend to favor the dominant group, to the detriment of diverse candidate pools. Their best tips involve supporting strong candidates who are either uncomfortable working the room to sing their own praises, like introverts, or those who are already actively enhancing the business in employee resource groups.
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The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.
—James Baldwin

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