LifeSpeak’s Black History Month Reading List

By Lisbeth Damas, Bilingual Content Manager February 15, 2022

In honor of Black History Month, LifeSpeak would like to highlight some of the interesting observations and great expert advice available on the platform. Our experts have tackled some difficult questions and shared helpful suggestions on how to create a more equitable and inclusive environment—one in which all members of our communities can flourish.

Current LifeSpeak clients with access to Expert Blogs and Ask the Expert webchats can direct their employees and clients—and their families—to the following expert-led education.

Here’s a glimpse of what they will discover.

BLOG: ADDRESSING RACIAL BIAS AND DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE

Tomee Sojourner-Campbell, Learning, Development, Equity, and Anti-Racism Consultant

Racial bias and systemic racial discrimination in the workplace takes a physical and psychological toll on Black and racialized employees. Employers must always be mindful that the impact is different for each employee based on their other social identities. For example, the experiences of a cis-gendered Black woman-identified employee will not be the same as a Black gender non-binary employee.

BLOG: THE JOURNEY TO ALLYSHIP: WHERE TO BEGIN

Tomee Sojourner-Campbell, Learning, Development, Equity, and Anti-Racism Consultant

For employees striving to be recognized as allies, they should be aware that allyship is not:

  • Being a savior or acting as a ‘rescuer’ of a colleague or client from Black, Indigenous, racialized, and underrepresented communities.
  • Being the ‘voice for the voiceless.’ As an ally, it is not your role to decide how, when, where, and what to raise on behalf of a co-worker or group impacted by inequities, racism, and other forms of exclusion. However, there may be circumstances under your workplace anti-discrimination and workplace violence policies where you are obliged to raise issues of harassment and discrimination.
  • Centering your lived experiences and moving from a place of defensiveness.
  • Erasing the lived experiences of racialized individuals.
  • Minimizing the trauma, hurt, pain, and resilience of Indigenous, Black/African descended, racialized, and marginalized communities.

BLOG: HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION

Dr. Kira Banks, Psychologist and creator of Raising Equity

How can parents recognize their own racial bias when talking about racism with their children?

It’s not so much ‘how’, as it is ‘to what extent’ are we willing to be brave? Parenting is so hard in all sorts of ways. This is one more way that we want to raise children who are citizens of the world and for them to be the change we want to see in the world. But oftentimes we don’t equip them with the knowledge [to achieve this]. We put them in extracurriculars and send them to learn instruments, but we don’t do the same when it comes to social issues. Information is missing and we as parents have homework to do. We all have biases that we need to navigate. We need to be more cognizant of them and do the work.

ASK THE EXPERT SERIES: RACISM, RACIAL BIAS, AND DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE

Carla Beauvais, Social Entrepreneur, Columnist, and Diversity & Inclusion Consultant

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Question: Without diminishing someone’s self-worth or causing them to become defensive, while at the same time making them realize that there are issues to explore and address, what do you suggest the best response is when someone says “all lives matter”?

Carla Beauvais: There is a difference between focus and exclusion. When something matters, it doesn’t mean that nothing else matters. But here’s something else that matters too: context. The Black Lives Matter claim is not a statement against Whites. It doesn’t exclude Whites or other people. The claim doesn’t accuse anyone of anything. The slogan chanted (by Black people, but also by allies) is a statement against these injustices: We want to live in a society free of racism and discrimination against Blacks. Plain and simple.

RECOGNIZING ONE’S BIAS

Question: I am a white privileged male, in my late 50’s. Call me blind, call me ignorant, but I grew up in a 99.99% white community. Over the years, I have tried to educate myself on inequalities with people of color. It did not hit me until I watched Van Jones on CNN and he said, “In our community, we have to have a conversation with our children about how to act when pulled over by police.” It was a light bulb moment. I did not get that conversation from my parents, nor did I have it with my children. With the recent BLM movement, I believe people like myself have opened our eyes, I am watching more documentaries and reading more articles. I know it is still going to be a long road for your fight, but does the Black community in general, finally feel growing support from the white community?

Carla Beauvais: I have to answer this question personally since I can’t speak on behalf of all Black communities (there are several, we are not a monolithic social group). I think that there’s a collective awareness of various issues that affect Black communities and that several people, who until now, were standing on the sidelines about the realities of Black communities are now experiencing a certain awakening. I honestly believe that, for many, the events of last summer were a moment of real awakening. But we also need to recognize that there’s still a long road ahead. The discrimination that Black communities experience is rooted in the very foundations of our societies. The issue is more at the social level than at the individual one. So yes, the more people, like you, are sympathetic and ready to denounce the social inequalities that certain communities experience, the more support we will drum up. In the end, we will succeed in changing our society for good in eradicating racism in all its forms.

Not a LifeSpeak client? Book a demo today to learn more about how the full range of expert-led mental health and wellbeing education can benefit your organization, your customers and their families. Our experts cover a wide range of topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion, anxiety, substance use, loneliness, parenting, caregiving, financial wellness and more.

Lisbeth Damas is responsible for sourcing the health and wellness experts that create LifeSpeak’s content, overseeing the production of expert blogs and e-learning videos, and moderating the live Ask the Expert webchats. Prior to joining LifeSpeak in 2021, Damas worked as a retail manager. She translated and adapted dialogue for the Italian television and film dubbing industry between 2006 and 2015 and co-owned a laboratory dedicated to ceramics and fine-furniture restoration in the center of Rome. She holds a BFA in Fine Arts from Concordia University.

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