The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Excuses For Complicity …

Adland – and most companies for that matter – love to talk about their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

And while they tend to be most vocal about it when there is a global news story that highlights the racism and oppression People of Colour experience EVERY SINGLE DAY, I do believe it is something many companies care about.

The problem is, very few seem to be doing anything other than caring about it.

No change.

No new decisions.

No policy shifts.

Recently I saw a poster advertising a conference in Australia about Africa.

This was it …

Notice anything?

Yep … a conference in Australia about Africa without a single Person of Colour being represented. Not one.

A conference in Australia about MINING in Africa without a single Person of Colour being represented.

[Though someone who saw it suggested the conference organisers may try and suggest the blank speaker space could classify as a Person of Colour]

Now I appreciate mining is hardly the most ethical industry, but even then the lack of representation shocked me so I tweeted about it saying this was a perfect demonstration of how much companies still had to learn about D&I.

“Surely no one could disagree” I thought …

Oh yes they could.

Rather than just go, “that’s bollocks”, some people tried to defend it … accusing me of having no context.

My 2 favourite comments were this:

“Let’s not jump to conclusions. I personally feel after a 2-second Google they have their intentions in the right place – well apart from the plundering of natural resources, but that’s a different outrage post. If anything they are guilty of crappy comms and maybe BBDO in Oz (or Africa) might like to say G’day?

“As organisers of Africa Down Under (ADU), Paydirt Media acknowledges the comments on social media and the interpretations which may be drawn by the advertised preliminary line-up for the in-person element of this year’s ADU,” the organisers said in a Twitter thread.

“As the premier forum for Australia-Africa business relations, ADU has always strived to ensure its programme is truly reflective of the diversity of African mining. In 2019, the last event before the pandemic, the programme featured 24 African presenters and 15 female presenters. “Ongoing travel restrictions mean we will be unable to welcome our African-based colleagues in person this year but once the full programme – including virtual participants – is released we are confident balance will return.

“We look forward to announcing participants from the African continent – including Australian-based African diplomats – in the coming weeks.”

And then this one …

Are these specific companies spouting anything about diversity and inclusion though?”

Right there is the typical corporate response to these things.

Protecting the company behind it.

Suggesting you are jumping to conclusions.

Saying that they’re good and this is a misunderstanding.

Yeah … yeah … if I’ve heard it all before, imagine how People of Colour must feel.

Which is why my responses were as follows:

“This is the sort of excuse churned out year after year to justify acts like this. A conference about Africa without a single Person of Colour as a speaker is not about difficulty, it’s about complicity, so maybe you’re looking at it from totally the wrong perspective.”

and for the second comment …

“Ahhhhh, so you’re saying companies that don’t talk about D&I don’t have to care about it which is why it’s fine to have an all white speaker group for a conference on Africa. Is that your point?”

I know people make mistakes … but this is not one of those, this is a deliberate act. There is no excuse for this. They can say they asked hundreds of People of Colour to be a part of the even and they said no – it still won’t wash. Because even if that was true, it would surely suggest there was something wrong with the whole premise of the conference if people from Africa didn’t want to be part of a conference in Africa.

“But maybe there aren’t many People of Colour working in the mining industry based in Australia, Rob?” I hear a prejudiced, white privileged individual ask.

And while I don’t know the answer to that, I do know if that’s the case, why are there so many bloody white people working in the African mining industry based in Australia?

It’s all bollocks.

And what is worse is the justification some people try and give this shit – with special focus on the organisers and their desperate attempt to look like they have tried really, really hard to make it more inclusive. Despite NOT ONE Person of Colour being included as a headline speaker.

As I wrote a while back about female leadership, change doesn’t even require white people/men to give up their seat … they could just make room for someone else to join them, but apparently even that is too much to ask.

We all are complicit..

We can all do more.

We all need to do more.

Hell, when white supermodels can use their privilege to create space for People of Colour to win [not just be seen, but win] the least we can do is exactly the same.

So to the people who will claim what I’m doing is promoting ‘woke cancel culture’, I would respond with this:

1. Yes I am.
2. Being referred to as woke is not bad as it means you have compassion for others.
3. You are the problem and you’d better be prepared for me to push back with the same energy you have adopted over years to maintain your privilege and power.

Anyone who defends this sort of shit is insane.

There is no excuse for it.


Even having 5 People of Colour on that huge poster of faces would be too few, so to take the side of the organisers for NOT HAVING A SINGLE PERSON OF COLOUR is an act of prejudice.

You may not relate to being called that.

You may not accept being called that.

But your actions reveal it … because nothing says privilege than thinking your experience is everyone’s experience.

39 Comments so far
Leave a comment

white people are fucked up.

Comment by andy@cynic

and what makes the fuckers worse is they dont think they are.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yep. You just have to look at how the UK government hail to realise they validated the racism they are now trying to condemn to know that’s 100% the case.

Comment by Rob

you know what campbell. your fucking take no prisoners approach to this shit is fucking good.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well said Andrew. Robert this post is both disturbing and inspiring. There has never been an excuse for this sort of behaviour, so for it to be happening and have people attempt to justify it is repulsive. I am thoroughly enjoying watching this side of you emerge with the full force of your unique energy. It’s needed. Keep going.

Comment by Lee Hill

I have a lot of things to make up for,
I used to think not being racist was enough.

Comment by Rob

I agree with Lee. Many industry leaders avoid confronting racism for fear of impacting their reputation or client relationships. Robert is enhancing his reputation by running towards the fight.

Comment by George

Anyone who justifies this shit is the problem.

Comment by DH

Do they have Zoom in Australia or have the ongping travel restrictions kept it out?

Comment by John

Ha … yes. No doubt they’d then blame the time difference as another factor in their choice of speakers.

Comment by Rob

Welcome to Australia, please put your watches back 30 years.,

Comment by Bazza

It takes a special kind of idiot to defend the choice of speaker at this conference. It also shows the conference organisers knew exactly who they would appeal to.

Comment by Bazza

Robert. Do you know if the people defending the conference work in advertising?

Comment by George

Apparently conference and mining companies think white lives matter more than black lives. Well done for calling this out and people who think they have an argument to defend it.

Comment by Wayne Green

In good faith and with all due respect but this US vs. Them identity politcs narrative you’re pushing, obviously comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of human behavior/perception and what drives success in highly individualistic, meritocratic societies.

You obviously miss a fundamental understandung of the so called race bias, or better the in-group / out-group thinking. What is crucial is that everybody has a built-in in-/out-group bias but we as humany are easily re-programmable. Robert Sapolkys (Stanford) lays out in “Human Behavior – best and worse” how humans actually function in this regard. Perpetuating a simple Us. Vs. Them narrative that doesn’t recognize or is simply uninformed on these facts does do way more harm than good, especially if the paradigms of the attention economy applied. This virtue signalling feeds a negative feedback loop powered by the amygdala and our tendency to fix our attention towards threads.
Actively seeking racism everywhere without delivering deductive data proof and jumping on conclusions that sound nice and are socially wanted is at best irresponsible. Speaking of the poster that triggered you – I suppose this has way more to do with individual opportunism than with racism. To demonstrate my thought: If it bothers you that others don’t give up their livelong careers why don’t you give up your seat to a minority person to emphasize how serious you are, instead only wishing this behavior from others? Loss aversion?

It is crucial to understand what traits (demographic & psychographic) drive success and poverty in meritocratic societies. It’s not skincolor that correlates with these outcomes, it is overwhelmingly driven by behavior and resources (and money is not the most important, it’s time and attention). This whole race baiting grabs attention of the young and the desperate marketing bubble but does not reflect the truth backed by facts. Over all ethnicities single parenthood has been by far the greatest correlation with poverty, crime, school dropout, drugabuse, getting yourself divorced later in life, obesity, etc… many of these things are result of instant gratificational behavior due to an upbringing in instable or fluctuating environments (Griskevicius & Kenrick, The Rational Animal, University of AZ). Also Thomas Sowell (Stanford) did in “Discrimination & Disparities” a great job in laying this out. Otherwise I suggest to read Pinkers Enlightenment Now to get a global perspective on this – since your attention only focuses on rich western societies.

And last but not least I suggest to read Dawkins stance on “woke-cancel-culture”, since you’re advocating for it. I am kinda irritated that high profile strategists fall for the conspiracy known as post-modernism that made the 2000s-“truthers” and later the “Woko-Haram”, by not accepting Data and scientific processes. These people had been arguing that science itself is an expression of white supremacy.
Science, and the humanities are not falling in this category, itself empowers people all over the world – this simple truth never comes to the mobs mind that asks for orthodoxy and unconditional compliance.

Comment by Counterweight

In good faith and with all due respect but this identity politics narrative you’re pushing, obviously comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of human behaviour/perception and what constitutes acts of prejudice.

Even if it was all done in good faith, the lack of self-awareness is astounding … almost as astounding as you attempting to justify it. Like many people who claim “not to be racist” suggest.

I note you actively chose to disguise your name. I understand why.

Comment by Rob

I read your comment with interest. In fact I read it twice. Excessively long replies filled with references of papers, universities and individuals is a traditional tactic of those who wish to hide their views under the pretence of science. You then confirmed this by quoting cherrypicked “data” without context or acknowledgement of triggers. May I suggest you try a little harder to hide your obvious views.

As for your suggestion Robert should “give up his seat to a minority person to emphasize how serious he is.” Unfortunately I can confirm he has been doing just this for a significant period of time. No doubt you will respond to this news with additional data that highlights he is suffering from a debilitating disease. I am sure he will be devastated.

Comment by George

fucking textbook.

Comment by andy@cynic

counterweight. hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Comment by andy@cynic

i thought i was going to have a fucking shit morning.
then i read counterweights bollocks.
havent laughed so much for weeks.
thanks counterweight.

Comment by andy@cynic

Lots of weight. Not much counter.

Comment by DH

sorry to interrupt your circle jerk and for blocking my response. I am sure somebody will read this: I haven’t read one argument, only throwing shit, nothing of value, no attempt to engage in a meaningful discourse. Thats why this whole narrative is the emperors new clothes and we all know how this story ends.

Comment by Sam Harris

little sammy is upset.
poor little racist sammy.

Comment by andy@cynic

What meaningful discourse do you want to engage in? You are denying racism and you are being called out on it. That you fail to recognise the issue Robert correctly raised in his original post shows it is you who is unable to enter meaningful discourse.

Comment by George

I assume your name isn’t Sam, but let’s go with that.
I didn’t “block you”, your posts got flagged as junk by WordPress. It seems technology is getting smarter all the time doesn’t it? But here’s the thing, you didn’t have a debate, you just spouted a lot of hate. Blindly following a path many people with your views follow. That you think racism can be discarded as something that is actually about individual motivations, ambitions and meritocracy societies says all you need to say and all I do.

And yes, I have given my place up. And shared it. And spoken up about it. So your attempt to cast judgement and shame shows you have no capacity to have any meaningful dialogue. If you did, I’d of gladly humoured you.

Comment by Rob

this sounds like a job for stevie dont you think campbell?

Comment by andy@cynic

The selfawareness you demand is what you lack of. Do you actually read your own posts? You’re generalizations are per definition racist and ignoring the basic social scientific facts on group differences. Speaking of self-awareness – you haven’t noticed yet that there was not one single argument, only strawmen and namecalling you and your assistant andy brought. You weren’t able to challenge the data on success and poverty correlation instead you ask if I deny racism. No I don’t, and I don’t deny antisemitism (which is enabled by the CRT) BUT I deny the nonsense you perpetuate by actively wrongly attribute everything in this world to it – you generalize everything to a single factor and scream that this is the truth and everybody who disagrees is a racist. Rob that is pathetic. It is simply wrong and there is plenty of proof and studies on it. Racism is not even in the top 50 realm of problems in western countries. It’s a attention problem driven by the media mechanisms I already explained. The vast majority of all people of all ethnicities are not racists, period – even white people, actually they even have a smaller in group/-out group bias. (
Anyhow, you will ignore study referred in the jewish nazi tablet magazine article.
So whatever…

Comment by Sam Harris

Maybe I’m going out on a limb here Sam, but are you white?
And are the references you have quoted coming from white people too?

I’m not challenging your arguments because the majority are ridiculous, you have conveniently ignored or failed to understand the cause of that results in that data is also due to racism. Deeply entrenched, systemic racism. But you probably deny that and put it down to a lack of drive and success individualistic ambition within meritocratic societies.

Instead of spouting your myopic views at me, why don’t you talk to a group of People of Colour who experience the reality of this situation everyday. Ask them for their views. Tell them what you think is their reality. If anyone is qualified to have a discussion about the reality of the situation, it would be them. I’m even willing to organise it.

Comment by Rob

Give me an S.
Give me an A.
Give me an M.

What have we got?


Comment by DH

I’ve read some utter bollocks before, but Sam / Counterweight here is in an entirely different hairy arsed land of testicles.

I was giving the benefit of the doubt and reading the whole comment, and then saw the use of ‘virtue signalling’ – which instantly shows a lack of compassion and understanding.

There are so many things I could add about how bad and pseudo intellectually dim witted the comment is, but I think it can all be summed up with the classic quote I saw on Twitter the other day.

No form of criticism of racism will ever be acceptable to a racist.

Comment by Rob (the other one)

Hey Rob, please tell me, a white liberal with jewish and morrocon family what my privileges are. What place do I have in the hierarchy of the oppression olympics? Please tell me about my lack of self awareness.
Do yourself a favor and educate yourself who sam harris is.

Comment by Sam Harris

Liberal by what measure?
Do you mean Moroccan?
It’s not Rob’s job to educate himself on you in order to second guess whether your stupid comments were really stupid or just ignorant.
Probably both.

Comment by Rob (the other one)

“Educate yourself on who Sam Harris is”.

I am sorry to inform you Sam, but that demonstrates your lack of self awareness right there.

Comment by George

If you hate this post Sam, you should read what he said today about Steve Martin. You’ll explode.

Comment by DH

Sam. I completely accept you are entitled to your point of view. Despite me disagreeing with it, I respect that. But from the very first comment you made on here, it was obvious you don’t respect I am entitled to mine. In fact it appears you don’t respect anyone with a different view to yours fullstop. Maybe I am incorrect in that assumption, but may I suggest if you want a civilized discussion, you act in the way you want others to follow. If you think you did then we are on different planets. Thanks for commenting. We are never going to agree. Good luck and goodbye. I’ve blocked any additional comments as this conversation is going nowhere on both sides.

Comment by Rob

I wonder if Sam would be happy if a conference about Texan cattle raising only had speakers of Asian descent? All based outside of the US. They’d just be individuals seizing the opportunity, right?

Comment by George

What a nonsense argument. If that conference is in china, by a chinese company for Chinese investors, It won’t bother a single texan but I haven’t made a poll.
Btw, china is actually the most ruthless exploiter of african soil under the worst conditions, and there is a great chance that they already had a number of those conferences. But I understand, the outrage economy needs to set their priorities.

Comment by Steve Martin

Ruthless exploitation of other nations products, economies or people is not exclusive to any nation. Now or through history.

Comment by Rob

We’re in the now, not in 1492. Thats what I mean with priorities.

Comment by Sam harris

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