‘We have been far too nice to white leaders’, say #CharitySoWhite campaigners

19 Sep 2023 News

By AJay, Adobe

Campaign group #CharitySoWhite has apologised for making “many mistakes” since setting up in 2019, including being “far too nice to white leaders”.

Writing in a blog, the organisation said it had wrongly focused on trying to influence charity trustees and chief executives instead of supporting people of colour (POC) working in a “cruel and unwelcoming sector”.

It also said it had failed to protect its committee members’ wellbeing, expecting them to work long hours in support of the campaign “on top of busy day jobs and other commitments”.

The group said it had “completely dismantled #CharitySoWhite” and was “rebuilding the campaign from the ground up”.

‘Nothing was solved by CEOs admitting racism existed’

#CharitySoWhite began in 2019, in response to a racist training slide used by a charity, with an aim to encourage wider conversation about institutional racism in the sector.

The campaign group was initially led by three people and expanded to incorporate an organising committee of members.

Its work included a report in 2020 calling for urgent support for POC-led charities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its new statement, the organisation said it regrets its “haphazard, reactive” approach to provide urgent commentary, which meant “committee members with disabilities could not wholly participate”.

It apologised for focusing its attention on charity leaders, which it said it did because “we wanted to appear respectable in order to influence them”.

“Absolutely nothing was solved by CEOs admitting racism existed,” its statement reads.

“It was a pat on the back for the few, with no impact for the many – the many in our committee and the POC who had put so much trust and hope in us.”

Plans for the future

#CharitySoWhite said it had thought its campaign “would die” but it was now rebuilding itself “from the ground up in an entirely different charity sector landscape”.

“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,” its statement says.

“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.  

“We have been far too nice to white leaders. We are not a department store for consultancy services, or questions about whiteness. The internet is free, we are not.

“We will 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, not to help white leaders, but to help those with lived experience and authority promote their skills and services.”

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