Award-winning educator and activist Shakil Choudhury is the author of the outstanding book Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice, and in this potent conversation we learn a lot we perhaps didn’t know about the psychological, emotional, and neurobiological reasons for our ingrained biases, and the systemic bias in the culture at large. How and why do we discriminate? Many of our biases are hidden in the unconscious, which makes it that much harder to bring them into the light so we can begin to understand what’s going on and find ways to move ourselves and society toward justice and equity. Shakil explains that changing societal norms is at the heart of the battle for racial and social justice, as our habitual cultural behaviors tend to be viewed as legitimate, normal, and natural, when actually they may be outdated, off base, offensive, and unjust. Shakil deftly lines us out with specific steps we can take to recognize and change our own behaviors, as well as actions organizational leaders can take to effect change on a broader level.
Shakil contends that educating people to become diversity and equity literate is the first essential step, and the 360-hour program he has designed to this end has proven very effective. Once people see the data, they cannot help understanding the drivers of racial and social injustice more clearly, which leads to the place where real transformation can happen. Shakil’s extraordinarily insightful and illuminating approach is fueled by many years of contemplative practice, and he leaves us with a vision of what we are fighting for—not just what we are fighting against—based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of Beloved Community. Small groups of dedicated people have managed to successfully nudge societal norms in the direction of justice in the past, and this conversation and Shakil’s book, Deep Diversity, most certainly contribute a compassionate nudge in the right direction. Bit by bit, recognizing that this is a journey, Shakil conveys both the means and the hope that justice will prevail. Recorded April 26, 2023.
“Can we hold the tension between our common humanity and our differences simultaneously?”
Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2
- How classism and racism come together, and the importance of asking the right questions about the variables that affect equality and diversity in our culture (01:43)
- Culture wide hypnosis and cultural hegemony (05:03)
- Where are we now as a species? We have made progress…but this doesn’t mean people are happy about the changes (07:03)
- System justification theory: we justify the system no matter what because we’re herd people (08:29)
- Changing the norms of society is the whole battle: small groups on the right side of justice can create a culture change (09:20)
- People coming together for shared purpose is deeply meaningful; contact activates empathy (11:17)
- The more we can see this as a literacy project, the more clearly we’re able to see the problems, the behavioral patterns (15:10)
- The data does not validate the fear that is being expressed about women and people of color getting preferential treatment (19:24)
- The empathy response to people who are like us and the threat response with people unlike us are biological responses (25:51)
- Does being on the right side of justice require a postconventional stage of development? (27:14)
- What can organizational leaders aspire to? Moving from a reactive form of leadership to a pro-active, responsive form of leadership (28:26)
- Listening, doing the pre-work, building relationships, and asking the right questions (36:21)
- Racial justice & equity, diversity and inclusion—what are we fighting for? Dr. Martin Luther King’s concept of Beloved Community (39:21)
- Can we hold the tension between our common humanity and our differences simultaneously? (42:06)
Resources & References – Part 2
- Shakil Choudhury, Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice*
- References for the research studies mentioned in this podcast can be found in Shakil’s book, Deep Diversity*
- Ayn Rand, creator of the philosophy Objectivism, and author of the bestselling novel Atlas Shrugged*, The Fountainhead*, et. al.
- Cultural hegemony
- The Anglican hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful (“The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate…” This verse is now often omitted from the song.)
- System justification theory
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of The Beloved Community
- Shakil Choudhury, co-founder & Chief Visionary Officer, Anima Institute: A Compassionate Approach to Racial Justice, offering innovative organizational change and training solutions to nurture inclusive, productive workplaces and communities
* As an Amazon Associate, Deep Transformation earns from qualifying purchases.
Shakil Choudhury, M.E.S., B.Ed., B.P.E., co-founder & Chief Visionary Officer of Anima Institute, is an award-winning educator, consultant, and author with over 25 years of experience in the field of racial justice, diversity, and inclusion. He coaches executive teams and has worked with thousands of leaders across sectors in Canada and the United States to help improve their equity outcomes. Shakil also facilitates dialogue processes to resolve inter-group conflict, having led projects internationally as well as with organizations locally.
Shakil is the author of Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice. Written in an accessible, storytelling manner, many have called it a “breakthrough” book on issues of systemic racial discrimination due to its non-judgmental approach that integrates human psychology with critical race perspectives. Shakil’s most challenging and rewarding management experience, however, involves his two high-spirited children repeatedly teaching him the humble lessons of fatherhood. To clear his head during the week, Shakil loves to run the beautiful ravine trails near his home in Toronto.
Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell
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