Had a chat with a colleague at one of the places I work, talking about Institutional Racism. I have given senior management a proposal to change some of our current employment practices, which are completely at odds with our, or should I say, the Institution's stated aims and also any "outreach" we attempt to do.

An anecdote that I never noted in the diary to illustrate: T is the only black freelancer at this place. She comes in 1 day a week every 4 weeks - very freelance, let's say. She saw one of the other freelancers on the team, and exclaimed, you've done something to your hair! I said, No that's how it grows out of her head. She's v blonde and it's natural. T realised that she mistook the freelancer for someone else and suddenly we realised what had happened. T thought the freelancer was a previous boss, who also has blonde hair. She had employed another woman as an assistant, who was also there, who everyone at the time said looked like her. Then the assistant had employed this freelancer who looked like the boss.

While T was talking I was excited and nervous at this perfect illustration of Institutional Racism which she had ingenuously pointed out. We could all see what had happened - people are employed because they look familiar - an unconscious discrimination against people who do not look the same. But it made me nervous, because it was so clear, I was afraid of what might happen - that I might be punished for pointing it out, or that T might be...

I pointed out to my colleague that the strongest support for the proposal has come from the top - senior management - and him and another non-Brit. Not that we come from countries with a good track record on racism but perhaps because we are outsiders, we can see what is apparent.

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