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#CharitySoWhite returns with new direction & apology for “many mistakes”

Melanie May | 20 September 2023 | News

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The campaign group #CharitySoWhite has returned after being largely absent for over a year, with a blog post explaining why, and setting out what comes next.

#CharitySoWhite was started in 2019 by three people in the charity sector following a tweet about racist content in a charity training slide that went viral. Its aim was to create space for People of Colour (PoC) to safely share their experiences of racism and to call on the charity sector to change. #CharitySoWhite quickly expanded into an organising committee of members, with its work including a report published in April 2020 on a racial disparities in COVID-19, a ringfencing campaign for funders to create equitable emergency funding pots, and regular comms and media appearances.

Apologies and explanation

In its blog, it says that while the committee membership grew to enable it to respond to demand and need, its strategy and approach did not scale up, making it “haphazard, reactive, urgent, and still led by three” and as its name grew in the sector, this led to the establishing of “unhealthy working habits and expectations” for its volunteer committee members and their wellbeing was not protected.

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As an organisation, it says, it “structurally internalised the charity sector’s white supremacist power dynamics” and white supremacist tactics crept in to its ways of working, while it spent too much time engaging with white charity leaders.

The statement adds: “White supremacy shaped the power dynamics within our organising team and the campaign tactics that we used. Internalised white supremacy also meant that we became gatekeepers of anti-racist activism, instead of building a movement for anti-racist change in our sector.”

Further distance to its communities grew through a failure to build an organising team that was representative and radically inclusive, it says, and members of violently oppressed groups were not validated, supported, or protected.

It apologises for not being there for PoC, and hopes that its explanation and new direction will help it reconnect with PoC working in the sector and rebuild trust.

#CharitySoWhite logo

The way forward

#CharitySoWhite says it has now “completely dismantled itself and is embarking on rebuilding the campaign from the ground up”.

It says: “We want to become a community-led space for envisioning a future where racism is dismantled within the charity sector and where PoC can thrive as their full unapologetic selves. Our strength as a collective is as facilitators and organisers, so we want our rebuild to create spaces for PoC to vent, get support, know their rights, and navigate a cruel and unwelcoming sector.”  

It adds that it has been “far too nice to white leaders”, and is “not a department store for consultancy services, or questions about whiteness”.  It will now “always ask the question of who we are helping with the work we do. We will signpost to work being done by other activists and other PoC in the anti-racism space, to help those with lived experience and authority promote their skills and services.”

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