The heightened attention to institutional and systemic racism across the world following the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in the USA must challenge us in the international development and humanitarian sector to examine our own practices, organisations and structures.
Our sector, whose work is defined by the historical legacies of colonial rule and shaped by the enduring global inequalities and injustices that it left behind, must not see itself as outside the current debates that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has ignited across the world.
Our sector’s workforce is often not representative of the communities we work within and for, and despite improving rhetoric around the localisation agenda, is still rooted in uneven and entrenched power dynamics that institutionalise racism and inequalities.
Commentators across our sector have awoken on this issue, with discussions on racial power dynamics of aid workers in low- and middle-income countries and calls to action to use this time to dismantle the inherent lack of diversity in our sector.
The Alliance stands in support of these calls to dismantle institutional racism in the international development sector and the #BlackLivesMatter movement more widely. But stating support is not enough.
We are now looking at ways of enabling our own staff and the wider Alliance membership to identify the presence of racism in our sector and the means of addressing it. We must also interrogate our approach to our partnerships in other countries – striving for equity, the promotion of mutual learning and seek to overcome structural biases at every turn.
Our sector should embrace its responsibility to move away from any discourse that reinforces the idea of passive beneficiaries and victimhood, while actively empowering the people it represents.
In the coming weeks, we will be convening our members to discuss how best we can support the objectives of the movement and change our approach to international development in Scotland, at all levels in our organisations, to avoid perpetuating the ‘white gaze’ identified by Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey.
We hope this will be the first of many conversations, and would be keen to hear from members who feel they want to be involved in this process.
If you would like to be involved or kept in touch as our plans for this event they firm up, please get in touch.
We have also created an online space to share ideas ideas on what we should be doing and what the sector more widely should do. If you are a member, please join this new discussion on the Alliance Community, and help shape our actions going forward.