Putting racial equity on our agenda

June 2020

In the last few weeks, the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 on BME people, the Government’s pandemic responses, and police brutality in Black communities the US and the UK have brought the impacts of racial inequality back into full public view.

As a non-profit working in some of London’s most diverse and most unequal boroughs, we feel it is important at this time to make clear our solidarity with the protestors taking to the streets in the last few weeks, and with Black communities and organisations who have been challenging racism in the myriad of ways it manifests.

We also write these words on behalf of the people we represent and work to support, and centering their experience. While our work doesn’t involve us directly in racial justice campaigning, we aim to break down barriers for people living at the sharp end of poverty and inequality. We support people to navigate a system (be it housing, education, or welfare) that is often discriminatory or marginalising, and to manage the system as it impacts them – all the while understanding how culture, family networks, community belonging and identity marks our experiences. This is an important part of our systemic and strength-based support.

We want, humbly, to issue a call to those in our sector – non-profits services, charities, trusts and funders, social enterprises or community interest companies – to speak up and speak out. Many of our organisations work is full view of the racial marginalisation that persists in our society. We work to combat the effects of the trauma it causes and barriers it creates.

But too often we do so without centering or naming the cause. Racial inequalities in housing, health, wealth, education, and criminal justice don’t happen by accident, they are the result of systemic and institutionalised racism is deeply engrained in our public and private institutions – including in the non-profit sector. Campaigns like #CharitySoWhite and organisations like the Ubele Initiative are bringing light to this issue.

As a multicultural team, we believe it’s important for these conversations to be alive in the work place,  and for leaders to create a safe, non-judgemental space that invites open dialogue about race and inequality. These conversations encourage us to look at self, our interactions with others and our own practice with the communities we serve.

Long-term systemic change will not come from just one community voice but with voices from all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This moment requires collective action to shine a light on the movement for Black lives and racial equality for all.