One month on: How #CharitySoWhite became a movement for change

One month on from the #CharitySoWhite campaign, what is being done to improve racial inequality and descrimination for charity sector employees?

Chloe Green | 24th Sep 19

If the polls and headlines are anything to be believed, 2019’s Brexit Britain is becoming an increasingly unfriendly place for people of colour.

While charities are often presumed to be bastions of all things ethical, it turns out that they are not immune to the abuse of white privilege – far from it. Recently there has been a backlash against tired stereotypes of the ‘white saviour’ and an old fashioned ‘them vs. us’ mentality that seems to hark back to colonialism.

The power imbalance is also apparent when it comes to those who work in charity and fundraising roles, where fewer than 9% of staff are from BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, with even less representation in the boardroom.

> See also: Nominate your top charity digital BAME leaders

Last month, a Twitter campaign by concerned charity sector members revealed some ugly truths about a charity sector in which institutional racism is alive and well. The #CharitySoWhite hashtag has since blown up, and we’ve decided to track its progress one month on.

It all started when Citizens Advice Bureau were called out on Twitter for its training material titled “Barriers we find in BAME communities” – a shocking stereotype-laden document that it’s hard to believe is real:

This racially offensive material was brought to light by Fatima Iftikhar, an organiser with #POCIMPACT, a community that recognises, supports and connects people of colour working in the charity sector.

In response to Citizens Advice Bureau, she was inspired to launch #CharitySoWhite to raise awareness of and bring to the forefront the stories of BAME charity staff and their experiences of racism in the sector. If you missed our first article, here’s a quick look back on some of the Tweets, which show the many forms of racism that can go unchecked and unchallenged:

As the shocking stories mounted up, it quickly started to become apparent that conversations alone are not enough. CharitySoWhite’s organisers began to take the next steps towards action and accountability.

The CharitySoWhite hashtag migrated over to its own Twitter account, and continues to keep the campaign top of mind and work for change. In a blog post, their call to action to the sector laid out some simple but actionable priorities for the months ahead:

  1. Ensure that the experiences and stories shared are recorded and accessible.
  2. Create a space for people to continue to share their experiences of racism in the sector.
  3. Define clear goals for the campaign which will enable us to drive conversation forward into action

 

The organisations say: “We’ve called on leadership teams across the sector to prioritise immediate conversation and reflection on institutional racism.”

While organisations such as the NCVO came forward to say that they would be carrying out research, CharitySoWhite organisers pressed for more concrete action:

Meanwhile, CharitySoWhite organisers announced a series of workshops for BAME people and their colleagues to input on what the focus areas of the campaign should be:

 

It’s been a busy few weeks for the team. #CharitySoWhite originator Fatima Iftikhar has also been given speaking slots to represent the campaign at events such as NPC’s conference happening on the 10th October, where she will be chatting ‘power, privilege and putting impact over intentions‘:

 

The team is also looking to grow. As Iftikhar says: “At the moment, South Asians are overrepresented on it, so we are particularly keen to hear from PoC from other ethnic backgrounds. Sign up to a workshop or drop us an email if you are interested/want to find out more.”

Watch this space as we keep you up to date on the latest developments.

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