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New Interview with Suhaiymah and Remi!

Course leaders Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan and Remi Fox-Novák discuss unpacking EDI, recognising barriers to change, and what to expect from their Sound Connections online workshop, ‘Strategies for change: Beyond the buzzwords’, on Tues 8 Feb from 10am–12pm.


Suhaiymah:

I wanted to frame this workshop as ‘beyond the buzzwords’ because I feel very conscious that we live in a moment where “Equality”, “Diversity”, “Inclusion” (EDI) and any number of other terms have become frequently used in institutions and organisations across the country – and even the world. The uptake in EDI initiatives and conversations has been especially apparent since the police murdered George Floyd and Breanna Taylor in the USA in 2020. To me though, this is strange, because EDI initiatives often do little to tackle the root problems that led to those murders. In fact, the way we talk about EDI you could even mistakenly assume that police murder of Black people is due to a lack of people of colour holding positions of power and influence in institutions – despite such murders coming right after the US experienced its first Black president. Clearly, there is something amiss.

This session will give us the opportunity to explore what we are really thinking about when we speak about EDI, rather than assuming that we mean the same thing. Assumption leads to ambiguity, whereas clarity and definition helps us to transform vague motives into specific actions and demands. It is vital that we take specific actions that address the root causes of oppression because for many institutions, EDI has become less about radically transforming and tackling structural processes of racist, sexist, ableist and other exclusion. Instead, it is often understood as an obligation that should be undertaken to display a certain ethically-aligned public-face to audiences, users, or customers.

We must ask how we get beyond the Public Relations motive? And how we have an honest conversation about how we feel about EDI goals? It is only when we ask these questions that we can begin to recognise the types of barriers or resistance that exist when it comes to actually transforming the inner-workings of our workplaces.

I am particularly excited about the part of the session in which we will really unpack the barriers to change. This is a chance for us to get into the nitty-gritty reality of how little capacity, resources and investment there often is in EDI work, even as much as it can be rhetorically prioritised. We will think about how radical demands can often become watered down, and how often our energy gets diverted elsewhere. In doing this we hope participants will be able to formulate not only actions, but strategies to articulate, sustain and build pressure for real long-lasting change.

Excitingly, this session comes with a part-two follow-up which means we have a genuine chance for feedback, evaluation and reflection on how the formulated strategies and actions played out in real-time. This is also an opportunity for mutual learning and thus a chance to build an arsenal of tools that together, we can use to make clearer, more specific demands and therefore transform our world in the ways we really believe it must change.


Remi:

Remi Fox-Novák is a music producer and sound artist with Nager Syndrome.  He has been working as a support worker for people with severe and complex disabilities, residentially and in day centres.

Remi says about the training:

I will be presenting the provocation about the resistance to change and recognising the semantic tools used in this backlash. I want to highlight that these barriers do not arise accidently and cannot be combated solely as an issue of ignorance. It is important to realise the power dynamics at play and the role the media has in shaping our narratives and the motives for resisting equality.

Inspired by the observations in Nesrine Malik’s book, ‘We Need New Stories: Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent’, I will lay out some of the push back devices against change that are used in media discourse that trickle down into discussions in our homes and workplaces.

I will also be highlighting the way that progressive actions and language are twisted to being strategies of oppression, to nullify new buzz terms such as ‘woke’, muddying any direct negotiation towards social justice and fairness.  Armed with this knowledge, participants should feel able to cut through more effectively and be able to recognise potential allies and opponents in our drive to spread opportunity to all.


To book tickets and find our more about Suhaiymah and Remi’s workshop, click here >

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