As an American living in London for more than 30 years I am conscious of the different historical experience that shapes the discourse on race in Britain. That said, I remain stunned at the regular response from across society that Britain does not suffer systemic racism. The history of slavery that has scarred the Black American experience and the colonial oppression that shaped Africa and the Caribbean have their roots in the British Empire so fondly recalled by many of those holding power today.
It is a stark reality that, despite the shows of public outrage following the murder of George Floyd and against other flashpoints of blatant racism, last year saw a record number of fatal police shootings in the US while the Metropolitan Police here in London has been exposed for heinous racist, misogynist and homophobic attitudes. The Met’s soon to depart Commissioner has been one of the voices denying institutional racism.
That is why I was so pleased to moderate the Conduit’s recent panel discussion for Still Breathing: 100 Black Voices on Racism, 100 Ways to Change the Narrative. With co-author Suzette Llewellyn and speakers Bonnie Greer and Albie Amankona, we had a lively examination of racism in Britain.
As Racial Equity Impact Champion for the Conduit, I want to use this platform to help move us from talking about injustice to taking action. I believe the Conduit community is particularly well placed to help deliver solutions for the systemic change we are seeking.
I have long been an advocate of social enterprise, impact investment and philanthropic capital as societal changemakers, but it has been perplexing and disheartening that some of the worst power imbalances between funders and potential investees have been found in the social investment and philanthropy sectors.
I am encouraged to see recent calls to action for the sector to do better.
The Commission on Social Investment’s Reclaiming the Future report, Ten Years Time’s Racial Justice and Social Transformation: How Funders Can Act Report, and the Diversity Forum’s Manifesto 2.0 have challenged the sector to fulfil its role and responsibilities to be true champions of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Anti-racism sits at the intersection of these.
I hope to bring Conduit members together to explore solutions for delivering racial equity, from community wealth building to rebalancing power in the social finance sector. Informal gatherings, dinners with guest speakers and panel discussions will all be considered to identify actionable steps we can take.
If you are interested in joining the Racial Equity working group, please let Patricia or Alicia Cole, the Conduit’s Community Manager know.
Patricia Hamzahee will be hosting a Racial Equity Meet Up on Friday 25th February to celebrate Black History Month in America. Please email email@example.com if you are interested in attending.