In this video, Dr. Sara Ahmed talks about the brick walls of racism and the experiences of people of colour doing equity and inclusion work. I have transcribed some of the most inspiring statements below the video. I think everyone should watch it really. I have watched it more than once. I was inspired. She is brilliant!


‘A decision made in the present about the future gets overridden by the momentum of the past.’

‘An institutional wall is a will that does not bring something about, a yes that conceals, not bringing under the appearance of having brought’

‘To those who do not come against it, the wall does not become apparent, the institution is experienced… as open, committed and diverse’

‘Agreeing to something is one of the best ways of stopping something from happening, because organisations also avoid the costs of disagreement.’

‘Those who identify the problem become the location of the problem’

‘A wall is how a wall is not revealed. Those who do not come up against walls then experience those who do as wall-makers.’

‘What is the hardest for some, does not even exist for others.’

‘Racism is a blunt instrument… the blunter the instrument the more bodies are stopped’

‘Privilege is an energy-saving device, less effort is required to see or to do,… sometimes if you do not appear as you are expected to appear you do not appear’

‘Complaint is seen as a failure to integrate.’

‘A book tends to fall open on the pages that have been most read…things fall that way almost of their own accord.’

‘It takes conscious willed effort not to reproduce an inheritance.’

‘When you can see a problem, your perception becomes the problem.’

‘A wall is a catalogue, a history of what comes up.’

‘And that is one of the most successful techniques for deflecting attention from race – seeing racism as an accusation’

‘As if getting over it will make it over…don’t get over it, if you are not over it.’

‘Once upon a time there was a child who was willful and did not do what her mother wanted. For this reason God was displeased with her and caused her to become ill, and no doctor could help her, and in a short time she lay on her deathbed. She was lowered into a grave and covered with earth, but her little arm suddenly came forth and reached up, and it didn’t help when they put it back in and put fresh earth over it, for the little arm always came out again. So the mother herself had to go to the grave and beat the little arm with a switch, and as soon as she had done that, it withdrew, and the child finally came to rest beneath the earth.’

‘It is the story of an arm but also the story of a rod.’

‘It is a story that insists on violence as moral correction.’

‘The enslaved and colonised were positioned as children.’

‘It is an imperial story…It is out there.’

‘The arm remembers… the arm is speaking to us.’

‘we have to find a way of holding each other up’

‘some of us are only here now because the arms keep on coming up’

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African woman, lawyer, teacher, poet and researcher. Singer of songs, writer of words, very occasional dancer of dances. I seek new ways of interpreting the African experience within our consciousness to challenge static ideology.


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