The Fundamentals of Racial Inclusion with Matriarch Ltd.

The Egalitarian (yes, all 12 of us now!) recently got involved with the most rewarding training programme led by the lovely Ria over at MatriarchLtd., and what a delight it was! MatriarchLtd. (Mtrrch) offers their immersive ‘inclusion basics course', which is a virtual programme covering a multitude of topics, all in aid of educating people and striving for a more inclusive society. Ria really helped us at The Egalitarian break down personal and social barriers and get into the nitty gritty of our unconscious bias and so much more. 

Mtrrch’s Racial Inclusion Course

A brief overview wouldn't do Mtrrch's course justice, so let's delve into some of the take-away points that we all loved. We went through three separate sessions; Knocking out Unconscious Bias, Inclusive Language 101, and So You Want to Talk about Race?.

The first session, Knocking out Unconscious Bias, threw us straight in at the deep end in the best way. We were encouraged to self reflect on our own unconscious bias, and to pull from personal experience in a way that made the session feel both mildly uncomfortable and significantly relatable. Although it may be important to note that Ria, our course director, made sure to remind us that we didn't have to share our personal thoughts and opinions - but us lot aren't shy to share. So we welcomed the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and speak openly about how we, as individuals, are upholding unconscious biases and how important it is to acknowledge these biases.

Following the first session, we all found ourselves getting a little more chatty in the safe space that had been created for us. We moved swiftly on to the second session, Inclusive Language 101, which focused primarily on how to use correct language when speaking to and about marginalised communities. Ria walked us through prioritising people-first language and how to ensure that our choice of words is inclusive but also specific so as not to categorise individuals too broadly. The session also highlighted the importance of opening up a conversation if you lack an understanding of what language to use; don’t be afraid to ask, but maintain a respectful attitude and always look to establish their boundaries first! 

At this point in our training we moved on to the third session, So You Want to Talk about Race?. In this session Mtrrch dived into how to actually approach conversations around race with those who have experienced it in an appropriate way, by maintaining the utmost respect and allowing the spokesperson their deserved platform to educate us. Ria empowered us to feel more comfortable in asking questions around race, but reminded us that a person is not obligated to satisfy our curiosity, and so we must be understanding should someone decline to elaborate on a topic. This session encouraged us to open up more conversations around race, as it offered us insight into how to do so respectfully, but it also ultimately taught us that it’s so important to give the person we are speaking to full control over the conversation so as to create a safe place and respectful environment.

There’s a quote in the additional resource Mtrrch provided us after our sessions; ‘At MatriarchLtd., we understand that allyship is a life-long commitment and there is always more to learn and do’, and this really resonated with us. There will always be work to be done as society and racial inclusivity evolves, and we’re so proud to be part of that fight. 

Why The Egalitarian did it

We pride ourselves on being an intersectional organisation to best represent our community, so it is vital that our Safe Place Project training and the content we share is inclusive of everyone. From exploring unconscious bias to developing inclusive language, I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say that Ria’s training was imperative to our growth as a leader in equality and inclusion work. We know that as an organisation we can always improve and develop our activism to ensure we’re empowering diversity as much as we possibly can be, and we’re always looking to learn.

We will use Mttrch's teaching about racial inclusion and talking about race to boost our knowledge, and encourage our team to not only be able to properly handle conversations around race, but also feel comfortable in starting them. We want to ensure we are as educated as we can be when engaging in difficult conversations. Ria empowered and encouraged us to feel confident when getting involved in those topics that are hard to speak about and hard to listen to. At the end of the day, an effective ally must be educated in the subject of their allyship, and at The Egalitarian we want to ensure we are as effective an ally as we can be to those who experience racism in all aspects of life. 

How this training helps the Safe Place Project

Our training with Mtrrch will undoubtedly benefit us all as individuals regardless of the content we work with on a day-to-day basis, as we all took so much vital knowledge from the sessions that we felt we may otherwise be lacking. However, if we get into the specifics of the work we do at The Egalitarian, the knowledge we have gained has amplified the team’s confidence, social and self-awareness and morale in implementing the Safe Place Project.

Within The Egalitarian’s Safe Place Project we have a module called unacceptable behaviour, and through this we train and educate venues and external organisations on how to be best equipped to handle situations such as hate crimes and hate incidents. You can never be completely prepared to handle such incidents, but the module offers powerful resources regarding how staff can work together to implement victim-focused, empowering response techniques to create a Safe Place. All three of the sessions Ria guided us through have complimented the unacceptable behaviour module, but primarily the second (Inclusive Language 101) and third (So You Want to Talk About Race?). As a team we feel more confident in our own understanding of inclusive language, and are less weary to bring the topic of race to the table should the situation suit. The Egalitarian have, and will always, strive to hold as much contextual knowledge on the content we train, and the Mttrch sessions have driven that knowledge to the next level. 

Effective allyship is the backbone of our Safe Place Project, and the first step to overcoming barriers to intervention when things go wrong in the night time economy (and wider society) is being knowledgeable on the matter of right and wrong - and so, as always, we want to ensure we maintain a current and relevant understanding of the content we put out.

What we liked about it:

Ria combined some really vibey graphics with a very conversational, open floor delivery style and overall the whole team were engaged throughout the three hour session (which is pretty impressive!). The interactivity of the session was highly thought-provoking, and it made us question whether we really are using the most inclusive language day to day - and isn’t that the whole point of such sessions, to get you thinking and second-guessing? For example, we learnt the importance of using ‘marginalised’ groups over ‘minority’ due to the negative connotations of the latter, which we agreed as a whole we would not have otherwise identified.

The sessions themselves were comforting and approachable, as you can really gauge that the whole premise of the course is to educate and bring people closer by sharing knowledge. Ria created the most empowering and safe environment for the team, which made us all feel comfortable to share our own experiences and ask questions. 

We could not recommend Ria and the Inclusions Basic Course enough to anyone who’d like to brush up or learn more about equality, diversity and inclusivity. We spent a solid three hours listening and talking and sharing, and by the time we said our goodbyes we each had the biggest boost of adrenaline and empowerment. Ria did ask for feedback following the course coming to an end, and I have to say, the constructive feedback section was a struggle - there really aren’t enough great things to say about the wonderful Ria and MatriarchLtd as a whole. We adored every second of it, and can’t wait to jump on the next available course as soon as possible! 

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