June 2021 IDEA Challenge

Tangible Tools for Applying Anti-Racism in Coworking Spaces

June’s IDEA Challenge is facilitated by Krystal Paraboo.

The IDEA Project is a global initiative aimed at developing Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) within coworking and collaborative spaces. Each month, we will host a challenge that assists you in broadening your understanding of IDEA, whilst giving clear actions for you to take to develop IDEA within your space.

Challenge #5 – Tangible Tools for Applying Anti-Racism in Coworking Spaces

By Krystal Paraboo

I am an all-encompassing creative and leader in the arts and culture sector, therefore approaching my projects from an anti-racist lens is imperative to ensure I am cultivating an inclusive environment for marginalized groups to feel included.  I am currently the Fund Lead for a new anti-racist initiative Sector Equity for Anti-Racism in the Arts (SEARA), and the Project Manager and Lead Curator for the Black Strathcona Resurgence Project (BSRP)– the latest community initiative by the Vancouver Mural Festival.

I think we can all agree that the heart of coworking lies in the communities that are formulated within them. In order to keep your coworking community continuously healthy, respectful and robust, it is imperative that as a collective group we are cognizant of how we are treating one another, or responding to vocalized experiences of discrimination; especially from those who differ from ourselves. Finding intentional ways of applying tangible tools to combat anti-racism is one of the most impactful ways you can make a contribution to the individuals who make up your coworking community.

While this may seem intimidating right off the bat, I want to reassure you that applying anti-racism in your daily lives is actually much easier than it seems! Unfortunately, a lot of language around anti-racism has transformed into a slew of buzzwords (notice how I’m refraining from using the now overused term “diversity”?), which is why this challenge will focus on you applying anti-racism terminology to specific situations within your coworking space. The goal is not only for you to gain a deeper understanding of anti-racism language and its functionalities, but to recognize when and how to apply simple tools to actively  prevent a racist environment from emerging or persisting within your communities.


Racism is often misperceived of only occurring in extreme overt situations such as uttering racial slurs, when in fact, racism is most often invisible, as it is upheld by the very colonial structures that make up the mechanisms of most of the institutions that we find ourselves in every day such as schools and workspaces. Because we are so used to how these structures work and are upheld, incidents of racism have been normalized which is what renders them invisible. Ultimately, racism is human beings experiencing a situation which challenges their humanity, in turn triggering significant trauma responses that affect mental health, and cause these individuals to question their sense of belonging.


I know what you’re thinking: “This has and will never happen in my coworking space! Our community is so content, our communication is open and no one has ever complained about racism, ever!” Now that might appear to be well and true, but there is most likely the possibility that an experience hasn’t been vocalized, or your environment isn’t attracting certain groups for this reason. Most victims of racist encounters are most often silenced either by groups in power, or by their own personal shame of being dehumanized. I myself have worked in a coworking space as a member, volunteered with countless organizations within a coworking space, and even co-managed a coworking space as a Community Manager– yet I could still provide you with countless instances where I experienced racism within that coworking community as a result of the individuals of that community not making being actively anti-racist a priority. This is why this challenge is super important.


“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism.” ― Ibram X. Kendi


The Challenge:


  1. Read through all the definitions in the Anti-Racism Glossary. Ensure you fully comprehend the terms, and feel free to contact krystal @ searafund.ca if you have questions about any of them.

  2. Choose 5 terms , and commit to applying the Action to your coworking community for the month of June. Commit to one term per week.

  3. Use the Anti-Racism Journal to record the specific instances of how you applied those actions for the week, focussing on the impact.

  4. At the end of the month, complete the Reflection portion in the journal. Use this as a starting point for the IDEA Challenge Conversation on June 30th.

  5. BONUS POINTS: Choose 1 term that you will personally continue to commit to in every community environment you find yourself in, for the next year.

Applying this challenge is guaranteed to bring feelings of discomfort, but remind yourself that is the point! Becoming anti-racist is a process of unlearning and accountability, and working through the discomfort will bring lasting forth lasting impact and change. Let’s work together to redefine the way we think about commitments to anti-racism! It’s a commitment no more political than last month’s challenge of considering accessibility– both ensure we are actively cultivating environments that honour and provide safe spaces for all human beings.


Feel free to team up with different members in your coworking space on this challenge. Good Luck!

This Coworking IDEA challenge was created with support from our friends at Coworking Canada.
Join us on June 3rd to hear Krystal Paraboo speak at the Coworking Canada Unconference!

June 30th 2021
9:00 AM Pacific | 12:00 PM Eastern
5:00 PM UK | 6:00 PM CET

Krystal Paraboo

Krystal Paraboo

Fund Lead
Sector Equity for Anti-Racism in the Arts (SEARA)

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