Winston Ben Clements is a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, specialising in unconscious bias, disability awareness and anti-racism. He is passionate about supporting the world’s leading organisations to deliver cultural change that is truly inclusive.
Each year we celebrate and commemorate Black History Month in October. It is an annual opportunity for people, governments and organisations across the United Kingdom to recognise the contributions that black people make to society. This occasion is also marked in many other countries around the world including the United States, Canada, Germany and Brazil. However, the timing and length of the celebration can vary from country to country, for example, it is celebrated in February in the United States, and in Brazil it is a day celebration on November 20th.
Black History Month is crucial not only to acknowledge the impact of black people but also to actively work towards a more equitable and inclusive future. And whilst the occasion helps to amplify the fight against racial discrimination, the biggest challenge remains in finding ways to ensure that the momentum and focus are not lost once the celebrations are done and dusted.
This is easier said than done and definitely requires a higher level of consistency both from individuals and organisations. Consistency with questioning and challenging one’s own biases and stereotypes about different racial or ethnic groups. Consistency with extending allyship to those who experience racism and supporting their struggles for equality. Consistency with dismantling systemic inequalities, discriminatory policies, and practices that perpetuate racial disparities.
In addition to celebrations like Black History Month, we also tend to see increased levels of activism when instances of hate and discrimination reach public awareness, the tragic story of George Floyd being one of most high-profile examples in recent times. These injustices have had a galvanizing effect with more people speaking out against racism in all its forms and at all levels. Being “not racist” is no longer seen as an acceptable standard and we are seeing a shift towards becoming “anti-racist.” People are marching and educating themselves on racism, whilst organisations are being held accountable to ensure they proactively challenge racism in the workplace.
But we have been here before. The Brixton riots in the 80s, the Los Angeles riots in the 90s, as well as several incidents in the U.S. and globally over the past decade. Therefore, much more work is needed beyond Black History Month and beyond speaking out against the latest injustice to embed real sustainable change, otherwise the result will be another false dawn.
Anti-racism is an active and conscious commitment to challenge, combat, and eliminate racism in all its forms. Consistency is key in helping us cultivate this mindset until ultimately there is no more room for injustice and inequality in our communities.
With that said, the EW Group consultants have curated some of the resources that have helped them to better understand how racism works with our list including TV shows, films, books, and voices exploring racism. Our hope is that this resource list will support your efforts to keep the momentum going both on a personal level and in the workplace. Read, share, and let us know your recommendations so that we can continue to add to this list.
- Roots. Roots is a groundbreaking television miniseries that chronicles the life of an African man named Kunta Kinte and his descendants in America. Based on Alex Haley’s novel, it explores the themes of slavery, identity, and heritage.
- Blackface. David Harewood’s deeply personal documentary exposes the shocking origins of minstrelsy and how these racist tropes have permeated mainstream British culture from the Victorians to the BBC’s Black and White Minstrel Show. Whilst much has now been hidden away in the archives, Harewood argues we should confront rather than try to erase this uncomfortable history. Find the full documentary on BBC iPlayer.
- Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap. This episode of Explained looks at the financial wealth gap based on race in America. You can watch the full episode here
- Stephen: The Murder That Changed a Nation. This BBC three-part series investigates the failings of the Met Police in bringing justice to Stephen Lawrence’s family after his racially motivated murder at a London bus stop in 1993.
- Black History Matters. BBC Sport has recognised Black History Month by releasing a series celebrating the achievements of black athletes in British sport.
- The School That Tried to End Racism. This BAFTA-winning Channel 4 series follows students at a British school who aimed to eliminate racial bias.
- I May Destroy You. This series took home six BAFTA TV Awards. I May Destroy You explores racism, consent, and sexual abuse. The series follows Arabella as she experiences sexual assault and harassment in present-day London.
- When They See Us. Based on events of the April 19, 1989, Central Park jogger case, this series explores the lives of the five suspects who were prosecuted on charges related to the sexual assault of a female victim, and of their families.
- Pose. Golden Globe-nominated series following New York City’s African American and Latino LGBT+ and gender-nonconforming drag ball culture scene in the 1980s.
- Small Axe. BAFTA-acclaimed series created and directed by Steve McQueen. This collection follows the stories of West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 70s.
- Time: The Kalief Browder Story. This series traces the tragic case of Kalief Browder, a Black Bronx teen who spent three horrific years in jail, despite not being convicted of a crime.
- Amend: The Fight for Freedom. Will Smith explores diversity and the battle for equal rights in America following the abolition of slavery.
- Anthony. This BAFTA-winning television film follows the story of Anthony Walker, a Black teenager murdered in 2005, and the life that he could have had if it was not taken by racism.
- Uprising. Filmmaker Steve McQueen brings us this three-part BBC docu-series about the devastating New Cross fire of 1981 that left 13 Black teenagers dead and affected race relations in modern-day Britain.
- The Hate U Give. A critically acclaimed film adaptation of the bestselling novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give explores themes of police brutality, racism, and activism through the eyes of a young black girl named Starr.
- Hidden Figures. This film follows the true stories of three black female mathematicians who helped NASA during the 1960s in the race to space and explores the challenges they faced which their colleagues did not.
- 13th. America has 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prisoners. This award-winning documentary looks at the racial inequality of the American prison system and how it benefits from the mass incarceration of African American people.
- Moonlight. This Oscar-winning film follows a young black man’s coming of age and his struggle with sexuality, race and masculinity, delving into the lasting impacts of homophobia and inequality.
- Queen & Slim. This romance crime drama follows a young Black couple who go on the run after accidentally killing a racist police officer during a traffic stop.
- Knock Down the House. This documentary film follows the primary campaigns of four female candidates – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin – who ran in the 2018 American mid-term elections.
- Sitting in Limbo. After living in the UK for 50 years, Anthony Bryan was wrongfully detained and threatened with deportation by the Home Office. This film follows his story, part of the Windrush Scandal.
- Selma. Segregation was legally abolished in 1964, but discrimination and Black voter suppression remained rife across most of America. This film follows the march for suffrage from Selma to Montgomery, led by Martin Luther King.
Podcasts and talks
- The Good Ancestor. Hosted by Layla Saad, The Good Ancestor offers insightful discussions on how to become a good ancestor by addressing issues of race, culture, and identity. Listen on Spotify.
- How to Get Serious About Diversity and Inclusion in The Workplace. In this TEDtalk, Janet Stovall explains why single-mindedness can sometimes be a good thing in helping us to accomplish positive change.
- I Can’t Be Racist. Psychologist Dr Keon West explores racial prejudice in modern-day Britain. Listen to the full episode on BBC Sounds.
- Grounded with Louis Theroux and Michaela Coel. Journalist, Louis Theroux, invites actor and writer of the series I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel, to his podcast. They explore race – including how it can often be fetishised – as well as other present-day challenges, such as sexual harassment and mental health. Listen to the full episode on BBC Sounds.
- Building an anti-racist and inclusive culture. Series 3, Episode 14. Diversity consultants, Yvonne Howard and Safina Nadeem, join EW Group’s reWorked Podcast as they unpick what racism and inclusion mean at work.
- Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. Emmanuel Acho has “uncomfortable conversations” on racism, social injustice and rioting. Watch the full episode here.
- About Race. Author of the bestselling book Why I’m No Longer Speaking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge, speaks to guests about issues surrounding race in her podcast About Race.
- A Black Man’s Death is Political. Untold is a platform for sharing stories from people or groups who don’t normally have a voice. Listen to the full episode on the Untold Podcast.
- Disability, Race and Building Resilience. Series 3, Episode 11. I join EW Group to explore what diversity means to me and why organisations must take intersectional approaches to inclusion.
- The History of White People. A comprehensive and scholarly exploration of the social construction of whiteness throughout history. This book offers a nuanced and critical analysis of race and power dynamics which disrupts preconceptions on race identity.
- White Debt. This book explores the Demerara (now Guyana) uprising of 1823, the legacy of slavery in Britain today and the concept of reparations. Whilst documenting the events leading up to the uprising and its effect on the movement to abolish slavery, Thomas Harding discusses his ancestral links with the slave trade and the concept of ‘white debt’.
- Me and White Supremacy. A thought-provoking read focused on how white privilege and systematic racism work and their effect. With exercises throughout to engage the reader and encourage them to reflect and recognise their own privilege, this book takes the reader on a journey of learning and unpicking.
- Brit(ish). From media representation to the police treatment of black people, Afua Hirsch delves into Britain’s complicated relationship with race, heritage and belonging.
- Why I’m No Longer Speaking to White People About Race. Reni Eddo-Lodge offers an honest, nuanced and intersectional overview of racism in modern-day Britain. This is one of the most popular anti-racism resources having recently reached number one, making Eddo-Lodge the first black British bestselling author.
- Girl, Woman, Other. The first black winner of the Booker Prize, author Bernardine Evaristo takes us on an intersectional journey by following the lives of 12 women in the UK.
- Natives. Artist, activist and author, Akala, reflects on the inconvenient truth about the legacy of Britain’s colonial past – and the effects this has on black people in current-day Britain.
- Black and British: A Forgotten History. Historian and broadcaster David Olysoga reveals overlooked and forgotten histories of the slave-trading empire and the legacy this has had in the UK.
- Rainbow Milk. This story follows a teen from a Jehovah’s Witness family in post-Windrush London and the battle he faces with his racial and sexual identities.
Articles and additional anti-racism resources
The challenge of racial discrimination is deeply rooted and historical, and will not be solved overnight, nonetheless, each of us has an important part to play to create the change we want to see. Remember, even the biggest journeys begin with one small step.
For more information about how we can support you in building a truly inclusive and anti-racist work culture, speak to our team of diversity specialists.