Celebrating Juneteenth 2022

In July 2020, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we launched our action plan, ‘Making Change: Promoting inclusion and opportunity for the black community. We pledged to do better to eradicate racism and create positive change.
To commemorate Juneteenth in 2022, we share some developments from around the group.

“It’s great that people have questions and want to talk about racism. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable with some of the more difficult questions on this topic.”

Marilyn Gentle-Walsh

Attendance Officer & BLM Training and Development Group Member

Educating our community
In 2021, Everyday Racism (EDR), an organisation committed to helping dismantle systemic racism by empowering Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) and teaching white people how to use their privilege for change, ran a live-streamed introductory session at CATS Canterbury, a CATS Global School.
The session was designed for staff as part of In-Service Training (Inset) and aimed to increase understanding of the complexities of everyday racism in the workplace/educational setting, encourage discussions, and provide everyone with the knowledge and tools to benefit the whole community.
Carly Robinson, System Adviser, an attendee, commented:
“It was a comprehensive introductory session covering everything from institutionalised and structural racism to microaggressions and racial gaslighting. Everyday Racism presented the information in easy-to-absorb formats and gave easily understandable takeaways for our staff body to continue its anti-racism work.”
Since then, our partnership with EDR has continued to develop. For example, they recently facilitated a cross-college Student Diversity Committee workshop to empower students with the confidence and language to speak to staff on diversity issues that concerned them. Students and staff from Boston (USA), Canterbury, Cambridge and London attended.
The workshop brought everyone together to listen and learn from one another through discussion groups and activities. In addition, students shared ways to celebrate and embrace different cultures, above and beyond the current curriculum and extracurricular activities.
Marilyn Gentle-Walsh, Attendance Officer & BLM Training and Development Group Member, commented on the session:
“We benefited hugely from Everyday Racism’s insight. We now have the tools and confidence to tackle essential but sometimes uncomfortable conversations.”
The Power of Discussion
Over the last year, CGS staff have held various BLM-related discussion groups. The sessions provide a safe space to openly discuss various topics, including Behaviour, Representation, and Reflection of Race (White Privilege and its correct meaning). Marilyn adds:
“It’s great that people have questions and want to talk about racism. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable with some of the more difficult questions on this topic.”
The working group also ran the first organisation-wide Book Club, looking at novels by black authors, the first being “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett. It tells the story of African American twin sisters (one light-skinned, one dark-skinned) and the different paths their lives take when one of them decides to pass as white. Marilyn says:
“It was a great book choice as it spanned the lifetime of siblings. I don’t think people realise what an impact colourism can have within a family, and this book choice was an excellent introduction to the subject.”
As a group, we continually look at how we engage and educate our community on topics to promote opportunity and prevent racism. We are proud of the achievements we are making to create long-term change, and we look forward to celebrating Black History throughout the academic year with a particular focus in the UK in October and the US in February.