Totum recently hosted Adrian Lock from the White Allies Network for a knowledge-sharing session in which he presented “Confessions of a Racist and Other Stories from an Aspiring White Ally”, in which Lock delved into his 30-year journey of understanding and growth as an aspiring white ally against racism.

Lock’s talk highlighted the critical process of learning and unlearning, revealing how his personal history is deeply intertwined with Black History and the broader global narrative of people with black, brown, and yellow skin. Colleagues found the talk enlightening, with one saying, “The headline for me is that we need to be a bit more mindful about racism that we don’t know about generally and that we don’t think about daily. What an amazing person Adrian is to go and put himself out there to do this work.”

The establishment of the White Allies Network two and a half years ago, in response to George Floyd’s murder, was a pivotal moment in Lock’s journey. Lock and his co-founders aimed to learn how to be true allies, forming a group to understand and stand against racism, holding themselves accountable to a Council of Reference consisting of “people of colour”. This initiative struck a chord, emphasising the importance of ongoing education and proactive engagement in anti-racism. As one of our team members said, in response to Lock’s presentation, “Things need to change, and this will only come through education.”

A significant revelation for many during the talk was the history of surnames in Jamaica and their slavery origins. “I didn’t know that many people from Jamaica were given surnames by their slave masters. This was all new to me,” said one of our team.

Lock’s presentation was commended for its provocative and powerful nature, illuminating the ongoing challenges in eradicating racism. One colleague found this aspect particularly striking: “I thought his presentation was provocative, powerful, and insightful. It demonstrated that we’re not as far along in eradicating racism as we would like to think, so at times it felt quite uncomfortable, but in a productive way.”

The session concluded with a strong emphasis on the importance of acknowledging historical racial advantages and taking an active role in learning and supporting the fight against racism. This message resonated with another colleague: “I found Adrian’s talk very impactful on many levels. I can’t believe the heritage of surnames, that shocked me, but Lock also demonstrated that white people should be doing more to proactively speak out and learn about black history. I should be talking more to my kids about it, for example, rather than relying on school, which I think I was unconsciously doing.”

Lock’s presentation was a powerful catalyst for discussion and reflection among our team, and one which will continue throughout the year. His insights, combined with thoughtful feedback from our colleagues, highlighted the importance of continuous learning, open dialogue, and active participation in the journey towards becoming effective allies against racism.

Having these conversations is important to Totum as genuine workplace inclusivity is more than ticking the diversity box – valuing everyone’s experiences and culture equally is essential. There’s much to do in shifting mindsets and culture, but open dialogue such as this ensures we continue to move towards a genuine, inclusive future together.

If you would like to find out more about Totum’s work around ‘Black History Month’, or to find out more about Carolyn’s work at Totum contact [email protected]

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