The Radical Solidarity Manifesto for White Allies in The Workplace
THIS IS A WIP FOR WHITE ALLIES IN THE WORKPLACE, WITH THE FOCUS ON UK CHARITIES. 3 PRACTICES OF THE RADICAL SOlIDARITY MANIFESTO IN THIS BLOG include A FEW EXTRACTS OF CHAPTERS INCLUDED IN THE 30 PAGE MANIFESTO LATER TO BE PUBLISHED.
"There are witch-finding spectres that malignantly inhabit our society to haunt all Black and Othered minority subjects. This Radical Solidarity Manifesto calls for white allies to destroy the witch finding spectre of White Privilege that either ‘consciously’ or ‘unconsciously’ resides within them with the 3 following Practices.
1. Own Your Privilege
Giving up power is not losing power!
White Allies, you will commit to overcoming the fear of losing your privilege. You will recognise that your power as a white subject in society is only granted directly by disempowering Black subjects. Employing radical self-awareness over your own privileges will not make you feel like a lesser human being in society, but instead a holistically conscious one that encourages equality for all. From a place of candid self-reflection, you will empower yourself by fighting to empower Others.
Explore radical ways to go beyond archaic traditions as a necessary solution. Take a mental note of how privileged you are, and question what you take for granted. Most people in western society are more privileged with their economic and personal welfare than those in third world nations due to colonisation. By owning privilege, all community members can heal and grow stronger as empathic humans.
2. Commit to Transparent Communications, and Active Listening
Never ignore the elephant in the room!
To Actively Listen to what a black worker has voiced and act upon it, you must choose to give up white fragility. You are not the authority on the Black experience, so you shall mindfully identify any emotions that arise for you during discussions about racism. You will ask yourself if your ego is being healthy or unhelpful, defensive, and micro-aggressive. Without being self-critical, you will replace fear-based reactions that disempower with supportive ones that empower all involved.
You can do this by positioning Black Voices as the only Authority on Black Diversity Equity & Inclusion. Black Voices are continually appropriated by white led organisations. Address any concerns with Black workers by first responding in the present with a future aim or resolution. Ensure that Black workers views are set in motion to empower, and not disempower. Ensure they take the credit on all Black identified knowledge. Be consistent with inclusivity in all workplace communications from the top to bottom, EG; important decision making to email communications.
3. Practice Radical Empathy and Solidarity
You will practice Radical Empathy and Solidarity by stepping out of your comfort zone. You will refuse to blindly accept the dominant, white-led hierarchal power systems. They are a product of colonial rulers who stole wealth from third world countries and built it off slavery. It still damningly effects their descendants today (me included) in our called liberal modern society.
Become a Radical ally by building Radical Empathy & Compassion through the practice of Radical Solidarity. Recognise the Black Workers experiences as if they were your own. Be brave and always speak up to publicly support a Black worker if you have witnessed racism and/or oppressive micro aggressive communications. Lastly, Petition, Petition, Petition. Black bodies and minds have been, and are still, subject to colonist borne decision making by white voices in all areas from charities to the NHS. With Black Leadership roles in the UK at only 1%, anti-systemic racist practice cannot come to fruition without consistently acknowledging the history of slavery in practices such as trusteeship. Do not tokenise. If you are a white led organisation with either none, or very few Black staff, question whether it is a safe environment for Black workers to enter. For example, if a workplace is small and has only one Black worker, that organisation must outsource Black workers from external agencies to support their welfare. Where possible, pay Black workers and volunteers, including trustees. This would serve to radically increase the 1% of Black Leadership roles in the UK. Furthermore, it is paramount to practice responsibility. If your agency cannot retain Black workers at your workplace, it is because of systemic racism. This means you’re your work environment is not safe for future Black workers until the necessary changes in communication compassion, empathy, and insight can be accomplished. When hiring Black workers, you would need a willing and supported paid Black Leader who is either in the organisation or outsourced from an external agency. Adopt radical white allyship and ask yourself whether your actions and words positively support/empower or negatively deny/disempower black voices. To be a radical white ally is to potentially centre hyper awareness around blackness and black voices. This is not at all about giving up ‘white heritage’ or being a martyr, it’s simply about shifting the balance needed for black individuals to feel as equal in the workplace as their white colleagues. This is not a comfortable process because it can feel disempowering for white people to give up a pre-conditioned power that most aren’t even aware they have been privileged to."
Radical Solidarity Manifesto
White Allies for Banishing Systemic Racism
Providing a holistic, empowering, and inclusive environment for Black QTIPOC TNBI paid workers, volunteers & clients
Maria Rosamojo 2022
MA (Distinction) Arts by Project in Black Queer Mixed Race Hauntology
BA Philosophy & Applied Psychology
BTEC Youth, Community & Social Work
Black Leadership Summary
This Radical Solidarity Manifesto holistically and philosophically delves into the insidious nature of systemic racism, and how it continues to malignantly exclude and disempower Black workers throughout the UK and beyond. It will examine why structural racism remains a disabling symptom of a tenaciously epidemic cause; deeply entrenched white privileged conditioning. For the purposes of this paper, I shall focus on UK charities to highlight how, even in the most liberal of work environments, structural racism pervades due to cognitive dissonance among white workers. I posit that even those who believe that they are anti racist, are often unconsciously, stubbornly, and/or frustratingly unable to fully reject the dominance of white colonist thought patterns. This is because it is hard to change who we are as subjects in an uncontested hierarchal white privileged society. To understand who we are as subjects in our daily environments, The Radical Solidarity Manifesto calls white workers and allies to action by asking them to own their privilege through the practices of active listening, deep self-awareness, hypervigilance, and radical empathy.
To gain radical solidarity is to actively listen to Black empowered voices from the past and present. Radical Solidarity is to act as a white ally with the intention to disarm racist practices and empower Black subjectivity. Radical solidarity is to know and challenge yourself (as a white subject) enough to be able to recognise that our entire culture is continually trying to instil in you that the white devil legacy of slavery does not exist today. It is this cognitive dissonance that fuels autopiloted white privilege, numbing white folk to the lesser experiences of those leading Black and Brown lives.
The beauty of practicing Radical Solidarity, is that the practitioner will also empower themselves through empowering Others. By adopting holistic practices to fight systemic racism within UK charities, you can recommend ways of providing an all-inclusive charity work environment that places Black paid staff, volunteers, and community members at its forefront. This Radical Solidarity Manifesto can be used to inform white allies, charities, and other work environments how to carry out humanistic preventative measures against structural racism within their own psyche/organisations. It will ultimately provide insights that validate the constant racial oppression Black workers experience, and the steps needed for us to feel equally included in the workplace in a mutually empowering way. It will also assuredly offer recommendations such as active listening through the practices of radical allyship, empathy and compassion. These will act as necessary alternatives to accepting white colonially conditioned norms of thinking and provide conflict resolution for wounded healers.
“You cannot be what you cannot see.” Dr. Ronx Ikharia
“You cannot be what you cannot see” is not just a quote, it's an ever-present embodied predicament for minorities who are excluded for simply being Other to the norm. Black and British Trans Non-Binary Dr. Ronx is an A&E Doctor and Children’s TV presenter who Stonewall has called ‘unapologetically visible”. Their representative views tackle the stigma of QTIPOCA discrimination by calling for Othered individuals to be reflected in empowered leadership positions within our multicultural and diverse society. The lack of opportunities available to minorities means that they are rarely offered empowering role choices within society. Therefore, younger minorities struggle to find role models like them, thus leading to feelings of alienation and disempowerment through into adulthood. With UK charities being predominantly white led, it is no wonder that Black charity workers are forced to fight to be seen, heard, and understood within a minefield of systemically racist environments. As a Black subject, this process of navigation, in a stubbornly ignorant and hostile workplace, becomes a site of perpetual racist trauma to be endured and never resolved. The Radical Solidarity Manifesto philosophically and holistically explores the embodied roots of the black experience when facing racial discrimination. With the focus on systemic racism in charities, it will identify that it is the lack of transparency (through postcolonial silences and white privileged conditioning) that isolates and continuously fails to empower Black workers. It is these poison vine colonial mechanisms that can leave the Black worker wading through unclear and alienating territory. These failures can only be combated by engaging in practices of Radical Solidarity.
“There is less racial diversity at executive and non-executive leadership level in charities... with only 5.3% of people in senior leadership teams were from an ethnic minority background.” Avecos Charity Commission, 2017
Black Leadership was one of priorities for ‘The Race at Work: Black Voices Report’ which in 2020 found that 62% Charities were found to consist of only white workers. Furthermore, across the business world’s private sectors, only 1.5% of leadership roles were inhabited by Black people. The figure for leadership roles in the public sector (including Black headteachers) was only at 1%. Their report also indicated that despite employers delivering inclusive leadership training “the results of this training was not felt equally by everyone in the workplace”. The 2021 Race at Work Report indicated that there was an 11% shift increase among executive work leaders sponsoring the active recognition for the need of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion training, mentors, and allies for minority workers. Yet there is a decrease in mentorship for minority workers from 28% in 2018 to 17% in 2021. The 2021 report goes on to argue for “advocates of diverse talent… to be accountable for improved progression of diverse talent in the workplace. Employers must ensure that Black African employees are included as part of this as they are the group most likely to desire a sponsor at 46%, yet only 15% have one.” Despite the 2021 report showing improvement with the recognition that ‘white leaders’ need to advocate for minority workers and promote black leadership, it does not show that there are more minority workers in leadership positions. Perhaps the results of inclusive leadership training would be felt more equally and actioned upon if provided by black workers in positions of leadership? But instead, black workers are depending on the disempowering statistic of 99% of white leaders to execute training in racist discrimination. Structural racism pervades because any inclusivity training is flawed from the moment it is delivered from a white privileged system that it is built on exclusion.
It has become increasingly clear to Black Britons that British companies only acted urgently to prevent structural racism after the tragic murder of George Floyd in 2020. It was this act of violence among thousands that spurred on the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM provided a forceful wake up call to the world and a defiant platform for Black people and white allies to fight racial discrimination and injustice. Two years later the BLM battle cry for Black equality is still strong among Black people, but we are disappointed by the lack of action after the promise by leading bodies to prevent racial discrimination. Therefore, the initial cry to end racial discrimination by white allies feels like an empty tokenistic gesture. This is partially due to the lack of Black leaders making decisions that empower Black workers. The nature of systemic racism is insidious and perpetually reoccurs because it cannot be easily identified by white led organisations who are inherently biased due to their own white privilege. The only obvious way to eradicate racism’s malignancy in the workplace is to recruit and train more black workers as leaders. But this is not an easy task as the Black worker already starts out in a marginalised position, and in smaller charities are often working as a solitary person of colour, which is viewed as being tokenistic. One solution is to outsource experienced Black Leaders, but as previously discussed, there are not enough with only 1% of Black leaders in the UK workforce. Therefore, we are left in a hopeless position where Black workers are continuously being let down by the oppressive system of white decision makers in power. How can we Black people expect to rely on the very same colonial decision making built on our slave ancestors broken backs? This system is corrupt through the self-serving promotion of whiteness and nepotism. Petitioning the UK government to provide Black Leadership Training and the fair promotion of Black workers in companies is essential. I frustratingly hear the many Black narratives of workers who are in organisations that are still promoting white staff over more experienced Black staff. Black leaders in the workplace are only minimal because of this type of structural racism. The powers that be could help to resolve this, but it seems they are too frightened to lose their own elitist power. In the meantime, black workers and white allies are forced to resort to fight these injustices through whistle blowing at the risk of losing their jobs.
The Radical Solidarity Manifesto calls for radical solidarity beginning on a grass roots level by recommending charities and workplaces petition the government and harness the ability to emphatically recognise black workers experience of racism both within and outside of the workplace.
I am sharing my embodied reflections as a Black mixed-race gender-queer cis woman with I have experienced both overt and micro-aggressive acts of racism since childhood. Raised as a child with a white Spanish cis mother, and Black Bajan cis father, I am now a battle weary but empowered adult. In my field as a multimedia artist and storyteller in black mixed-race queer hauntology, I channel the trauma and abuse I have endured to theorise how witch-finding spectres operate in society to identify and destabilise Othered Subjects. I posit that Racism and all ‘Otherisms’ can be viewed as a witch finding spectre as it is not always overt nor clearly visible. Therefore, it malignantly operates like a spectre to gaslight and psychologically harm the personal autonomy of black and Othered people. In writing this Manifesto, it is important to state that as a Black person, I do not need to resolve systemic racism or white privileged conditioning. Only white people can solve any racist practices they’ve either created or been coerced into through archaic colonialist norms. All they need to do is actively listen to Black narratives. Furthermore, the focus of this Manifesto is for Black/Mixed workers from the African diaspora as this my phenomenological experience. Although (in Radical Solidarity) I also hope it is supportive for Brown workers of Asian or Native Indigenous populations, as we share similar traumatic experiences of oppression due to the colour of our skin, as well as the effects of colonialism over our autonomy throughout history. So, while this Manifesto is to prevent systemic racism for all Black and Brown people, it would be audaciously appropriative of me to provide embodied sociocultural insights of those outside of my own knowledge as a British person with Black Caribbean and Spanish heritage. It must also be acknowledged that I am only one black voice, and while many Black people will share a similar mindset as my own, I am not representative of all. Ultimately, this Manifesto will provide insights that validate the constant racial oppression Black workers experience, and the steps needed for all People of Colour to feel fully included in the workplace in an empowering way.
Many Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity reports tend to only nod towards training and empowerment as being the necessary solutions to systemic racism in the workplace. But these empty gestures are not enough to make radical changes if they are not actioned upon from compassionate humanistic minds. This Radical Solidarity Manifesto explores the embodied roots of the black experience when facing racial discrimination in the world. With the focus on systemic racism in charities, it will identify that it is the lack of transparency (through postcolonial silences and white privileged conditioning) that isolates and fails to empower Black workers. It is these mechanisms that can leave the Black worker wading through unclear and alienating territory. These failures can only be combated by engaging in practices of radical solidarity. Practicing Radical Solidarity will place the Black worker as their own authoritative leader, and the white led organisation they work for as being bound to them in an unshakeable form of white allyship.
In theme with a message to embrace radical solidarity, this Manifesto is NOT an officiously constructed report that adheres to patriarchal rationalised consultation norms. It is more of a thinking person’s tough love guide that hopefully arms willing white workers with the radical emotive thinking needed to fully eradicate systemic racism. This is not about apportioning blame. It is to be understood as a holistic guide concerning the paramount importance of transparent, inclusive, and empowering communications.. If you are a white worker reading this, there may be parts in this report that you think you know already. And in these instances, please listen actively, and allow for the fact you can never know what it is to experience the workplace as a Black worker. My aim is to both inform and validate and not to patronise. But please be aware that I am needing to be concise in the hope this paper is understood clearly. This is because radical change is needed, and my already fatigued black voice has repeatedly explained how to not be systemically racist only for it to continue occurring.
When Black voices are coming from a compassionate place to help rebuild a faulty system, they are trying to better serve humanity in a way that benefits their communities. So, this report is coming from a place of love. The late Black social Radical Love activist and author bell hooks believed that “Students who excel in active listening also contribute to the formation of community.” As an exercise, you may wish to record any empathic or defensive thoughts that arise when reading this report. Your feelings, positive or negative, are important and not to be discounted. Aim to practice mindfulness when reading this so you can better identify your own feelings contextually.
The spectre of colonial traditions in charity trusteeship
The term ‘trusteeship’ is commonly used, often rather loosely, to denote the character of British rule over backwards people” (1934) The future of colonial trusteeship, The Round Table, 24:96, 732-745,
Despite UK charities sponsoring the rhetoric of equality, diversity, and inclusion, they are still letting down Black charity workers by not radically and fully embracing the EDI message. Hence, Black workers are expected to exist and grow within an outdated alien occupation that is not fit for their purpose. Black workers persistently battle against alienation because British work environments are intrinsically caught up with upholding white patriarchal dogmatic practices that are steeped in an audacious overbearing colonist language.
bell hooks (2014 p159) set the scene for Sojourner Truth's talk in Ohio at a women’s rights convention in 1954. Hooks states that Truth was met by white women shouting, “Don’t let her talk, don’t let her talk!”.The irony of this incident is not lost when considering her audience could have learned an ultimate lesson on female autonomy if they had only listened to the black empowered woman standing before them. Sojourner Truth was met with an aggressive encounter at the women’s rights convention. I am not suggesting this happens in modern charities to this degree, but what if I told you the embodied feeling that Sojourner experienced is not dissimilar to the black workers who are battling in the ironically charitable fields of systemic racism. In modern times, the silencing of black voices has become more discreet, more finetuned, than at the women's convention in Ohio. The traditional colonial practice of refusing to accept Black Rights through enslavement has today shifted into a faux politeness that disguises malignant acts of racist manipulation. As world citizens we are taught, in general, to accept racism is wrong but black voices are still being silenced.
“I experimented in the role of being a QTIPOC trustee. At one zoom meeting I found myself deciding on something that I had only just been made aware of. This was due to the lack of communication (which in all honesty was also affected by staff illness, the pandemic and only a few staff supplied to support hundreds. The other trustees conducted a ritual of raising their hand and saying something like “I second that notion”. I felt deeply uncomfortable but couldn’t put my finger on why. Then I realised all faces were looking at me expectantly to do the same. I jolted back into the room and clumsily said “yes!”. The right words. I was missing the right words as a trustee because they have never been available to me. I thought that I must look very unprofessional but also resented needing to act professionally by not knowing how to perform my role.” Anon, 2022
This simple decision-making ritual is a necessary practice in charities globally. It wasn’t until after that Anon realised their discomfort was because they had dissociated to a time when this practice was being made about who was to own black slave bodies, who were also deemed to be ‘unintelligent’. This trustee decision making ritual appears perfectly innocent, but it is rooted in white colonial ritualistic practices. It is necessary to agree or disagree as a trustee but why perpetuate this archaic ritual? White conditioning thrives on archaic rituals because they keep enabling ‘proper’ ways to communicate. In the English dictionary the term ‘proper’ means ‘real’, ‘suitable’ or ‘correct’. Therefore, if you are not seen to be proper, you are unreal, unsuitable, incorrect and what ‘The future of colonial trusteeship’ describes as “people not yet able to stand for themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” Naturally there needs to be a high degree of professionalism in charities so that boundaries aren’t crossed, and workers are safeguarded. However, the pomp and glory of ‘proper’ British colonial rule is a spectre that seeps into everyday practices of governance, when we should be practicing equality based humanistic communications.
Malcolm John is a black cis male who leads The Action for Trustee Racial Diversity campaign and suggests a more action focused attitude for charities to be more inclusive.
“During my own experience of more than 18 years of being a trustee on several charity boards, varying from very large to very small, I have only occasionally found my fellow trustees to be also from a Black or Asian background. It’s also true to say that for most of these boards, the opportunity has come from my own personal networks and contacts rather than any open recruitment process. This is not a desirable situation from any equality, diversity and inclusion perspective. Given the predominantly white, male and older make up of trustee boards and the natural tendency to draw from your own networks, something more action-focused and direct other than just the right words is needed to change the picture.”
Charities claim to bolster inclusivity, fight racial discrimination, and encourage equality, diversity, and inclusion within and outside of their organisation. Yet Trustee are 99% white and
middle/upper class Historically, this is the demographic of people who are most able to provide their free time and energy. Most QTIPOC people regrettably do not have the economic privilege to be able to volunteer.
UK charities need to begin thinking about ways to manifest a fairer scheme that is not so colonially biased, as well as petition for changes in a way that further benefits and empowers Black staff and clients. When white led charities hire Black workers, they are often made aware of systemic racism by those very same Black workers. White led charities with only white workers cannot fully comprehend their own privilege, particularly around processes of decision making, and therefore take forgranted their Black workers embodied experiences. Charities fail to gain insight into their own systemic racism because of the lack of black leadership. This leads to a viscous circle of alienating conversations for the black worker in white led charities who cannot sustain relations because of their white privileged bias. In other words, what may have appeared a ‘proper’ way of t'doing things' for white communicators was a racist colonist minefield for the Black worker.
“Aside of looking online I honestly did not know what being a trustee would entail in practice. I found that I did not understand the legal jargon and policies as I had no background or relevant training. But I was willing to learn and provide my own insights to the role. And in doing so I thought I could help towards providing a representative voice for Others like myself. I was also fully aware that the few paid charity staff were overworked and were dealing with vulnerable people in an increasingly unforgiving climate due to Covid-19 and mental health funding cuts. However, the more I tried to learn and understand trusteeship, the less I felt empowered in the role. It was if I was just expected to know the language that they spoke, but I simply couldn’t. I was floundering. “There are black trustees who know what they are doing after all, so why couldn’t I?”” Anon, 2022
Anon questioned whether they were experiencing systemic racism because they imagined there were other Black trustees that could. For example, Malcom John is a Black Trustee with a wide range of skills, but he is also only 1% of Black leaders. And the charity didn’t provide relevant training and were unable to communicate or skill share. Charities need to provide transparent communication, provide training, widen their skills matrix, and not assume that all Black workers going for trustee roles would take to it like a duck to water. For example, as a creative minded person myself, who happens to be black, I prefer to talk in direct and actionable terms as I’ve become accustomed to ‘things’ being talked about a lot and not being actioned upon. Understanding good governance legislation and policies is clearly an important and necessary role for some charity trustees. But the lack of trustee diversity from minorities with other beneficial skills cannot possibly serve the charity overall. A skills matrix often helps diversify trusteeship roles, so they are not endemically prescriptive and more individually based. For example, as well as trustee skills in legislation, there should also be trustees who are skilled in diverse human relations. Allegedly, being a good communicator is one of the most important parts of being a trustee so why does it fail for Black workers? A skills matrix is ignorantly flawed by systemic racism as it is not empathically built for inclusion. This is proved by the fact that communication considered good by a white worker is not the same for a black worker with a history of being left out of important conversations.
Aya A Coly (2019) speaks of the use of postcolonial silences operating to undermine the embodied lived experience and concerns of people of colour. If charities want to really provide a platform for black voices, they need to help erode these postcolonial silences themselves with clear transparent communication You cannot be what you cannot see unless you are white. White led charities need to fully listen to black workers the first time they speak. They need to give up their white privileged seat of power and hand the mic over without repeatedly grabbing it back. Postcolonial silences and acts of systemic racism can occur (even in anti-racist well-meaning individuals) in ways that undermine and disempowers black workers and community members. Bell Hooks (1994:pg1-20) imagines a world with no white dominance and believes many privileged people also yearn for this type of revolutionary change even though it would mean giving up their privilege. Yearning is a state we all share according to Hooks. In capturing a hauntology of identity I yearn to capture a state of empowerment that is born from a yearning to belong that acknowledges white privilege but also transcends the term when loving white allies support us.