Racist: The ‘R’ word

There’s been a recent ruling on a case related to racial discrimination that’s very interesting. As part of her induction training, Georges (the Claimant), went through some discrimination and diversity training. During the course of the training the trainer wrote a racial epithet on a flipchart. The word was then repeated thrice during the course of the training by other participants.

Is that racist? And is saying a racist word acceptable for demonstration purposes?

Well… the ruling upheld Georges’ claim agreeing that using the word so frequently had the “effect of creating a degrading and offensive environment”. The tribunal believed that the strategy used in the training was not only risky, but also insensitive. It’s ironic (and unfortunate) that a training programme focusing on diversity and inclusion and with well-meaning intentions will create the opposite effect.

There have been a number of stories about famous people using racist terms/ language. This is not because they are racist, but because they feel they don’t harbour any racism themselves. They rationalise that they have a vari-ethnic friendship group or family whom they admire and therefore cannot possibly be racist. However, this doesn’t negate the discomfort those words have on people.

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