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Are you Guilty of Oblivious Racism?

In this Episode I tell the story of a Senior Executive who seemed literally unable to comprehend that his Black temp Admin Assistant was saving up to study Constitutional Law. The best he could muster was that she plans to study Immigration Law. The ensuing conversation would be funny if it didn’t so clearly point to an unsettling phenomenon I call oblivious racism. Oblivious racism is the result of not challenging and updating what we are socially conditioned to believe about people groups. I share 3 strategies to recognize and challenge oblivious racism.

Intro: A little self-quiz on oblivious racism: Can I REALLY say we didn’t know THAT was racist?

Jackie and Mr. Big Boss: “Did he hear what I just said?”

Where are you really from and other awkward moments of oblivious racism

How to challenge oblivious racism within yourself:

Strategy 1: Check your posture: what do—and should—you do when called out or in on your racism?

Strategy 2: Check your reading list: whose voice is informing your subconscious ideas about others?

Strategy 3: Check your courage: are you willing to go against the flow?


1) We are all socially conditioned to understand people groups outside of our own a certain way

2) We are often oblivious to and continue to feed our socially conditioned stereotypes

3) We recognize racism more than we care to admit—often we’re just scared to stand against it

Definitions and Resources:

Racism: Categorizing then treating people based on skin color and other physiological characteristics Stereotypes: Simplistic, widely held beliefs about a people group, based on inaccurate assumptions Called-out: When someone points out a racist behavior in a direct, sometimes confrontational way. Called -in: When someone points out a racist behavior in a subtle, private, non-confrontational way.

For more check out Divigo Help Center tabs “Team Dynamics” and “Racism”; and Resource Center tabs like “Casteism”, “Indigeneity” and “Racism”.