Our Anti-Racism Challenge Experience

Our Anti-Racism Challenge Experience

It’s been just one month since George Floyd was murdered on the streets of Minneapolis. Three months since Breonna Taylor was shot dead by police in her apartment. Six years since Eric Garner was choked to death in New York. I could go on.

Are we surprised that the media is already moving on to the next hot topic?

This has always been the way - a despicable and tragic event that demonstrates that racism is still alive and well, that’s then swiftly shoved under the carpet until the next tragedy.

However, I think we ought to be hopeful. People around the globe have been standing up for what is right, and it’s starting to seem like things can change - eventually.

Sadly, the fact of the matter is that things won’t change overnight.

But I truly believe that with persistent effort and the right intention, we can banish racism to the history books, where it will live on only as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the horrors of our past - so we can ensure it never happens again.

What we did:

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Vivo Life team was embarking on a 7-day anti-racism challenge. I talked about how we were all vehemently against racism from the get-go but wanted to challenge ourselves - how can we be anti-racist?

This was a concept that I hadn’t really thought too much about. As a straight white man, I’ve only seen racism from a third-party point of view, where I can sit, comfortably free from discrimination, and say ‘that’s awful’.

While I’ve always tried to make my voice heard, I’m aware that I could do more - and be better.

Embarking on this 7-day anti-racism challenge was a small step and was the least we could do as a company.

It made me aware that it was my responsibility to educate myself. People of colour don’t owe white folks an explanation on how to be anti-racist. I’m grateful for the challenge as it’s made me a better and more conscious person.

But you’re probably sick of my opinion, so here are a few thoughts from some of our team!

Our experiences:

Jo Smith, Executive Assistant and Events

"My heritage is Indian, Irish, and French. I have encountered racist remarks, some aimed at me, some at others but I have never called it out or challenged it. Hearing racist comments, whoever they are aimed at makes me sick to my stomach. Doing the Antiracism Challenge has certainly made me think. It has taught me that it is OK to speak out against this appalling behaviour so we can hopefully, one day be free of it."

Josh Bolding, Vivo Life Co-founder & President of the Afternoon Nap Committee

"Taking part in the anti-racism challenge has made me think critically about how we as a business, and I as an individual, can do more to be anti-racist. It has made me more aware of my privileges and how the small things that I take for granted, such as my safety when walking down the street, are a luxury that millions of people cannot currently enjoy. It has made me objectively question how I can be an ally for Black people on all occasions, and use my privileges to create a meaningful change in the world.

Although the challenge was eye-opening, the hard work is just beginning. I promise to use my voice and my actions to play an active role in dismantling structural and systemic racism, and I promise not to stop until equality and justice is a reality for everyone."

Tamara Paine, Marketing Executive

"Incorporating antiracism discussions and actions into your daily routine may seem overwhelming and uncomfortable at first but it really is amazing to be apart of a community of strong individuals who are committed to making a change in society. The 7-day challenge taught me that the age of information and ignorance is a choice and how to help become more self-aware and anti-racist in our everyday activities. The United Street Tours Antiracist Everyday project has been a great first step to learning about antiracism and I would highly recommend it!"

Rachael Bowles, Happiness Engineer

"One of the most valuable things I took away from the anti-racism challenge was the importance of doing our own research. The history that I - and many others learnt about in school doesn't even begin to cover the systemic oppression and atrocities experienced by Black people and People of Colour. My research led me to finding out about the Bristol Bus Boycott, which I'd never heard of before, despite having lived near the city my whole life. Being white means having the privilege to not have to question anything, but I'm now even more aware of how important it is to question what I know, do more research and become an actively anti-racist voice in my communities."

Maxine Thevignot, Marketing Executive

"For as long as I can remember I have always been deeply shocked and sad when the world showed signs of racism. Mainly through my travels, I learned to discover cultures and make them a great richness in my life, but I needed to learn more, to understand more. It's true that sometimes I was too lazy and I really needed a moment to focus on a subject that is very important to me. This challenge was wonderful for that. A source of information that allowed me to build my own thinking. It was also an opportunity to be able to act and speak out more easily, more accurately. I came out of it even more sure of one thing: IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND."

Elena Neri, NPD Technologist

"After the latest events, I sat there with my White sense of guilt, not knowing what to do, not knowing where to start. I remember thinking that a 7 Day email challenge seemed almost too small of a thing, but still I felt behind after the first few days... I struggled when realizing how me and the people around have all played our part in this injustice. Everything feels terribly wrong - and it should. However, the message that I carry with me from the challenge is that we cannot afford to be "fragile" right now: we need to come to face to face with all the bad inside us and around us before even hoping to see a positive change. Pushing through the Anti-Racism Challenge felt like a step forwards, as it provided guidance on how to do this: self-education, realization, apology, commitment, calling each other out when we make mistakes. Now we need to follow through... in life."

What's next?

Our company motto is "For the Living". As such, we feel like we have a duty to speak up about the big issues and stand up for what is right, for both human and animal lives. We'll continue to do this and are so grateful to have our amazing community right alongside us.

Until next time,