by Nicholas Cheffings, Past Global Chair of the international law firm Hogan Lovells, now focusing on advocacy for diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, equity and equality in business and society—August 2021
This is a book for our times. It is about diversity, racism and inclusion, but it is so much more than that. It is informed by the author’s lived experiences, and it draws heavily upon her training as a psychologist. It speaks of the challenges that our society faces and it explains how we can rise to those challenges.
This is not a book that leaves the reader dispirited or disillusioned, wondering how we found ourselves in this mess and despairing over whether things will ever really change. It explores the ‘caves of privilege’ that are so prevalent in our society. It encourages us all to come out of those caves and to build ‘bridges of empathy‘. But – critically – it does not leave us wondering how on earth we are meant to get from ‘cave to bridge’. It guides us along the path, recognising that we might occasionally lose our footing.
Dr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah’s thoughtful Six Stages Framework recognises the definitions of racism, and it also shows us that we need to expand our thinking around racism if we are to achieve real change. While illustrating her observations with recent examples of discrimination against racial minorities, and of anti-blackness in particular, the author recognises that biases and prejudice exist in all racial groups. She encourages us all to evaluate our biases and to make the space for honest conversations without judgement. The message in this book is very clear. We cannot, and must not, carry on as we are. We have to put an end to empty posturing. We have to stop polarising issues of race and going to extremes when we talk about racial equity, inclusion and racism. We are shown how, put simply, we have a shared responsibility to try to understand each other’s values, beliefs, perceptions and realities. It is only by beginning such conversations that the possibility of change exists.
This book helps us not simply to understand what we need to do, but also how we can go and do it. It provides a toolkit for individuals, governments, schools, universities and businesses. It takes us, with clear examples and explanations, on the journey – wherever we may start that journey – to a place where we are all able to take on leadership roles in promoting racial equity, inclusion and social justice. It shows us how we can join together with others to challenge social injustice and racism – to do so for the sake of humanity. It is predicated on the unarguable proposition that there is far more that unites us than there is that separates us. This is a book that is firmly rooted in our uncomfortable reality yet is optimistic about our future. It shows us that, by following the Six Stages Framework, we really can make the world a better place.
“Dr M’gadzah tackles head on the issues of modern-day racism. The book is set within the difficult, turbulent and often unsettling world of today. It inspires interest by referring to current affair issues such as the tragic death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter Movement and ‘the Harry and Meghan’ interview with Oprah Winfrey. By using popular cultural references, such as the books The Colour Purple (Alice Walker), Dr M’gadzah engages the reader wholeheartedly. The Six Stages Framework promotes optimism and empathy at a time of great need.”
Sarah Lacey BA(Hons), PGCE, MA
“This is an excellent read and covers the key areas of diversity, equity and inclusion in a thorough and systematic manner. I would like to congratulate the author on her thoroughness. The contents of the book encourage learning organisations to be reflective through self-assessment. When taken seriously, action plans will be converted to actions, and positive differences will be seen and celebrated, from the individual level right up to the institutional level – no-one should be left out.”
Dr Colin Gordon, Ex-Principal Educational Psychologist BSc, PGCE, MA, MSc, DocEdPsych, CPsychol, AFBPsS, SARSM
“I think this book is very clear. The examples you use from the media are really interesting and engaging, and most importantly very relevant in today’s climate! I like how you included both the positive and negative axes and how racism or growth can progress in either direction. I really valued reading about non-white racism towards black people – this book sheds light on this issue that clearly also needs to be thought about much more. It was really insightful to read the author’s thoughts on the development of shared empathy to open up conversations about race and difference. I also liked the ideas about solidarity and common humanity in bringing people together towards a common understanding. I think seeing each other’s humanity is vitally important, because we are dealing with a history of the inhumane treatment of one group of people for the benefit of another. I appreciated reading about how we care for people of colour’s mental health because of the toll, it takes on us to have these conversations or even to witness the issues of racism ongoing in different ways. Great work!”
Dr Amanda Mwale, Clinical Psychologist CPsychol
The Six Stages Framework is an action-based positive tool that will speak to many people and provide the language many people feel that they don’t have to speak about their own biases and racism. “What is special about the Six Stages Framework, is that it is a positive, action-based, non-judgemental tool that is essential to addressing sensitive topics.
Aishling Dempsey, MSc Clinical Health Psychology student/ Honorary Psychology Assistant, Inclusion Psychologists Ltd.
Aishling Dempsey, an MSc Clinical Health Psychology student and Psychology Assistant at Inclusion Psychologists Ltd, stated:
“I have just finished reading through your book and I am truly blown away. It was refreshing, thoughtful and inspiring. Reading in detail the conceptualisation of the framework and its positioning in everyday life as a tool was very interesting. The Six Stages Framework is an action-based positive tool that will speak to many people and provide the language many people feel that they don’t have to speak about their own biases and racism. “What is special about the Six Stages Framework, is that it is a positive, action-based, non-judgemental tool that is essential to addressing sensitive topics.”