Understanding Racism from a Behaviour Analytic Perspective – workshop summary

Published by Jo on 25th November 2021

Sheila Sekasi, Founder and Managing Director of Advancements ABA in London gave an informative and thought-provoking presentation as a guest speaker at Green Light’s PBS workshop this morning.

Sheila is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst based in Kent who has worked in a variety of roles in the field since 2008. Sheila’s company Advancements works closely with families, health, education and social care professionals, to provide individually tailored programmes for children who need additional focused support to learn and achieve socially significant goals.

Sheila’s presentation was on the theme of understanding racism through a behaviour analytic perspective.  Sheila has utilised the methods that come from the science of behaviour analysis which can be used to understand challenging behaviour in adults with autism to understand racism in the general population.

Sheila provided definitions of prejudice, discrimination, racism along with many historic and recent examples of institutional racism in education, the criminal justice, and the health care system. Sheila gave examples of how harmful, often lethal biases, are built into current health care practices, many of which are based on myths that can be traced back to the slave trade.

Sheila reflected on personal experiences of racism and how she has found behavioural principles can be applied to understand the emergence and persistence of racism in society, and what we can all do to be anti-racist.

Sheila’s talk was illustrated by powerful examples of racism from stories such Kevin Clarke’s, and from policies such as Stop and Search Policy. Sheila showed Doll Test Study videos showing early development of racial biases.

Sheila spoke of positive action coming from the Halo Code which aims to end discrimination against those with afro-textured hair. Sheila talked about Malone Mukwende’s Mind the Gap work. Mukwende is a physician aiming to bridge the gap in knowledge in the treatment of skin conditions in people with darker skin, having observed when training, that much of what was available to Doctors was based on caucasian skin types.

We would like to thank Sheila for her time, for such an inspiring session and for reminding us that we all have unconscious biases at play.  It is how we act on these that makes the difference.


Jo Pyrah 

25th November 2021

Green Light team members unable to join today’s session can catch up by watching the recorded session.