We are so pleased to welcome this Guest Post from Diasporic Development to the Healing Solidarity blog.
We are in *queue overstated phrases *unprecedented times, more than 100 days into lockdown, masses proclaim that Black Lives Matter, DFID and FCO are merging and the Conservative government are actively ensuring that we don’t spend a penny over the 0.7% aid budget (as heaven forbid we support anyone without a red.. or is it navy passport?). Everything we knew and understood of the world as of January 1st 2020 seems to be up in the air, and yet one thing remains critical – representation, equity and inclusion for Black professionals working in international development and the wider charity sector.
Allow us to introduce ourselves, we are Diasporic Development. A community of Black people working and interested in the charity sector in the U.K. and beyond. We want to see Black professionals leading change and being represented at all levels within the sector.
Diasporic Development came about quite organically, as five friends lamenting the challenges at work, and solidifying it through a shared idea of the change needed within our sectors and the power of social media. Descendants of immigrants have witnessed the quiet ways in which their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents have carried out their sense of duty to those back home. We represent a demographic that straddles two worlds, effortlessly juggles multiple identities and seeks to connect those interested in developing their ties to their other home. We want to promote the sector as a viable and worthy career path. We want to rebrand, rehabilitate and reverse a generation’s worth of negative imagery and shameful programming branded into our collective psyche. We want to unlock the vast potential, resources and nuance that the Black diaspora can provide in enhancing and helping to better deliver social justice.
As people who work within the sector, we connected via the recognition of the mutual challenges of getting your foot in the door, staying in the room and progressing through the ranks. At a time where organisations want to “out statement” each other to show their commitment to racial justice;Diasporic Development exists to push for radical change, not simply performative public statements.
Since our official launch in February 2019, we have created safe spaces where unfiltered conversations have flowed with our members. This has taken the shape of panel discussions, featuring professionals in Comic Relief, Action Aid, Shelter and more, intimate dinners, joining our friends at The Advocacy Team for their careers fair, partnering with Forward for this year’s International Women’s Day event and most recently virtual events, including a panel discussion with Devex and BAMEID unpacking hiring practices within organisations. Although a global pandemic was not part of our 2020 mood board, we plan to adapt and continue providing a much needed community, whilst also engaging organisations within the sector to ensure diversity and inclusion is more than just a buzzword.
As encouraging as the recent public statements have been, we fear much of the commentary is lip service with activism not extending beyond quaint Black Lives Matter tweets or a black square on instagram. The charity sector does not seem ready to engage and have the necessary, honest conversations, such as who holds power and why, and how power is resourced and shifted equitably. Until we, as a sector, do this and more importantly, ensure this progresses into real, tangible action we fear that 20 years from now we will be having the same conversations, and People of Colour, specifically Black people will still be excluded.
While the sector has made many strides over the years in alleviating poverty and contributing to long lasting change, we at Diasporic Development believe we can go further and faster if we meaningfully (and mindfully) engage the Global South and its diaspora. The diaspora, which we like to think of as the missing infinity stone, with the knowledge and sensitivity that comes along with this identity, could hold the key to truly snapping ourselves out of a job. After all, that is the goal, right?
Diasporic Development also aims to help demonstrate to graduates and those younger that 1) a career in the charity world is a thing and 2) that there are a multitude of ways to get into the sector (death to unpaid internships!). A notable and common experience that we at DD and our members have shared, has been the feeling that a career in International Development simply wasn’t for us. Growing up it was not something we could envision doing, it wasn’t a career path that was easily accessible or even visible in the same way as other professions.
Beyond physical and now virtual events, you can connect with us at www.diasporicdevelopment.org and on social media (@’s below). We also have a careers thread on Twitter which we regularly update with roles and opportunities, and where we can, will support with applications or find you someone in our network who can! We recognise that diversity without inclusion is ineffective, so our wider aim is to hold organisations accountable, challenging them to not only question why their senior team/board is homogenous but to also take action and create inclusive spaces where Black people, and all People of Colour can bring their full authentic selves to work.
What’s next for Diasporic Development? We have some exciting things coming up, the country is rapidly opening, but for the immediate future we will continue holding online events, like our virtual socials. Black History Month is fast approaching, and the pressure is on for us to hold an event on par with last year’s sold out panel, and we think we have done that. To find out more, subscribe to our newsletter (by going on our website), and follow us on socials.
We are now at an interesting juncture. 2020 may not have been the year we all foresaw, however, what we do know, is that the old normal did not work. It did not work for the world, it did not work for the Global South, it did not work for the Global North. Let us now envision and put into action a new normal in which International Development is equitable… and eventually obsolete.
No person, or charity, or government department can do this alone. Similarly, it cannot and should not be done without the diaspora. Our insights, care, passion, and interpersonal connections are an asset that the sector should no longer exclude.