George Floyd one year on: Tavistock anti-racist pledges
25 May 2021
On the anniversary of the tragic murder of George Floyd, we pledge our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation.
To help us, we have embarked on a race equality review to better understand, change and learn from the experiences of our workforce, trainees and service users.
We are working hard to make our jobs, trainings and clinical services as accessible and inclusive as possible to all.
While this is a Trust-wide commitment, our social workers in particular have been leading the way at the Trust. A number of them had attended the Tavistock Centenary talk on ‘Whiteness - A problem for our time’ and following this Paul Dugmore and Jo Williams joined with a group of social workers from around the country who also wanted to collectively take direct action to combat racism.
They met weekly and co-ordinated a day of personal and collective action to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March. Using social media, they encouraged social workers and social work students to call on their employers and universities to demand that they take up a position that actively promotes anti-racist practice.
A Webinar where members of the Anti-Racist Activism group each spoke about the personal pledges we are each making leading up to 21st March took place https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAMhqdkpBNQ
They’ve since asked social workers at the Trust to commit to making a pledge. On the anniversary of George Floyd's murder, they present these pledges and invite other colleagues to add to this:
Inspired by the activism of Birmingham University social work students and their campaign to decolonise social work education and the development of a diverse collection of academic resources, our pledge is to:
- Ensure the Tavistock library orders the entirety of this collection for its catalogue to support the ongoing work to decolonise the social work curricula on Trust courses;
- Ensure that anti-racist leadership is central to the development and delivery of all new leadership and management courses in the Social Care, Leadership and Management portfolio;
- Keep race and racism on the agenda and take responsibility for challenging racism in all of its forms, both personally and professionally.
Paul Dugmore and Jo Williams
Although my background is in social care, I am currently a trainer with the National i-THRIVE Programme team, and facilitate a national programme of training around the delivery of Children and Young people’s mental health support services. As a team, we ensure that Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are always talked about in our training modules, but I would like to pledge that I will:
‘Create a space in every training session I deliver for people to reflect on race, culture and diversity, and encourage curiosity around these subjects moving forwards’. I will also be sharing the webinar and my pledge with my team to further spread the great work that has been done.
I was brought up by my mother to be anti -racist in a time (1960’s) when racism and bigotry was rife and totally acceptable, both in England and in Ireland. We shared our home with Black Africans, Moroccans, Spanish Gypsies, Romany Gypsies, a homeless Irish traveller family and my Auntie Rosie, who was a gay man, amongst many other wonderful people. I am truly grateful to my mother and to them for this foundation in my life.
However, I know I have prejudices and I make assumptions about people and I see others do the same. As a human, and as social worker/ clinician it is important for me to notice when I am doing this and to challenge myself vigorously. I have become aware of my need to become more educated about the history of racism and active in supporting anti-racism in myself and in others. I am engaged with my local BLM and I will continue my history lessons which started with an inspirational lecture by Abu-Bakr Madden on African and Black History in 2020.
I pledge to speak as openly as I can about race and racism, model courage and commitment towards ensuring anti-racism remains on our agenda.
- I will join you in ensuring that developing and sustaining an anti-racist leadership stance is central to the curriculum and delivery of all new leadership and management courses in the Social Care, Leadership and Management portfolio and any cross discipline courses.
- I will continue work to support existing course leads and teams to ensure anti-racist practice, scholarship and teaching practice is embedded in curricula and embodied by delivery teams.
- I will continue to notice and speak up to keep race and racism on the agenda and to support, mentor and promote the development of black colleagues and to create opportunities where I can.
- I will join you in taking responsibility for challenging racism in all of its forms, both personally and professionally.
I'm keen to continue to provide reflective one to ones to the Black and Asian participants on the PSDP course. By understanding institutional racism and the dynamics of racism I can help them to learn and develop, often within a hostile environment. I will continue to encourage them in their professional development.
I am also keen to apply my knowledge and interest in post colonialism to the teaching that I undertake. I undertook a first degree in post colonialism, and international development when I was just 18 years old. My teacher took me to Africa. I learnt about colonialism and how many of the wars in African were funded by Western countries. I am still interested in how we in the west under develop Africa and south America and how trade is not free. The knowledge I have of west African countries in particular make the students on the doctorate and MA realise that they can talk to me about their cultural beliefs and experiences without judgement. I am holding conversations with Ghanaian and Nigerian students in infant observation and life course theory, challenging western norms etc. I am also using my knowledge to raise the profile of colonialism within climate change.
My personal pledge is to continue my painful work in attending to my internal racism by accepting challenge, support and guidance. In addition to this, I pledge to continue to bring what I am learning into the professional and personal spaces I occupy in Ireland and at that Tavistock. To continue in Ireland to introduce racism onto the agenda in those organisations I work with, to keep it on the agenda in other organisations and to take responsibility for challenging racism in all of its forms, both personally and professionally.
Thank you for the invitation to put this in writing. Since September racism has become deeply personal and important to me in ways I could not have foreseen. I am motivated to act on it and have done and will continue to do so.
I would like to pledge:
To listen, reflect and learn from my colleagues and clients of colour
To read some of the texts about racism in the Tavistock library (hopefully some will be e-books)
To challenge and speak out against racism and to look out for hidden inequalities
My pledge is to be more conscious and in touch during meetings with what is happening to my colleagues from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. These colleagues are all too often few in number at a senior level in the Trust. I want to take note of who is speaking, who is being listened to, silenced or ignored. However uncomfortable it might be for me to do this in my privileged position as a white woman and as a manager, I want to commit to taking responsibility for challenging and calling out racism, whether it be blatant or more subtle.
March 20th is UN Anti Racism-Day of action. As a practising social worker, clinician and manager, I pledge to examine my own whiteness in my interactions with clients and colleagues, and challenge racism in private and professional life, whether it be overt or unintended.
To do what I could to be of use to the BLM and race equality movement and the pressure they are placing on institutions to change.
My pledge is to continue to recognise and challenge my own internal racism and all of the institutional and structural racism it stems from and of which we are all a part in the UK. To continue to listen and to be educated and to educate.
As a Social Worker, clinician and trainer, I pledge to continue working hard to ensure that the way I practice and teach continues to challenge my own prejudices and too often, taken-for-granted privileges. I strive to make space to think, reflect, discuss and act if required, against discrimination and in an anti-racist way. It was during a meaningful and courageous forum here at the Tavistock Centre, many years ago, that as a trainee I was given a safe space to explore my painful experiences of racism as a Jewish woman. I owe it to myself, my patients, my students, my colleagues and our joint community to continue offering the same.
I pledge to be vigilant to others experiences of racism. I will be open and listen with compassion to others experiences of disadvantage and discrimination. I will respond to racism with both sensitivity and vigour. I as a manager will consider institutional racism and how I may play a role in effecting change to create more experiences of equity.