Why we are offering PoC-only spaces during this year’s Healing Solidarity Conference

Healing Solidarity is a space designed to connect to one another and to resource ourselves for doing things differently in global development, humanitarian aid, and international philanthropy. This includes building cultures of care and developing skill sets that model:

  • challenging injustice in our practice and re-imagining our sector, 
  • resisting the working practices that overwhelm and exhaust us, and 
  • reflecting and sustaining ourselves as people. 

Healing Solidarity exists to be part of rethinking, reimagining, and reshaping the future – to promote healing from the past, generate new narratives, and establish new ways of working. Together, we are inviting people and organisations on a learning journey to avoid replication of the harm that has been done in and by our sector. This means supporting people to tackle some deeply challenging issues – both personally and professionally – which we see as long-term work and which we hope will happen in partnership with many others. 

Within this, we recognise the need for multi-racial spaces and leadership as we try to model this in Healing Solidarity overall. Also, we recognise that dedicated spaces for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour can provide the opportunity for healing, support, mirroring and affirmation, and that this must happen away from the white gaze. In our consultancy work with organisations, Healing Solidarity also offers dedicated ‘cohort’ spaces that help people explore the lenses through which they see and interact with the world and how their personal/family/cultural identities interact with their professional identity and access to resources. The cohorts are then re-joined to bring what emerges into shared space, focused on concrete actions and practices. This is long-term work we believe can be a helpful support in us all building anti-racist practice over time. 

In our 2020 conference, we are offering three Black/POC only spaces. One is hosted in partnership with Diasporic Development, and two opportunities to explore creativity and its healing power, one utilising spoken word poetry with Nikita Shah and the other using collage with Takyiwa Danso.

For the purposes of our work and of access to these events, we include within people of colour Black, Indigenous, and all those identifying as a person of colour. We know that people of colour are not a homogeneous group but also recognise the value of spaces dedicated to those for who have been oppressed by the burden of racism and the ways in which that is manifest in our organisations. 

Neither of the white members of our Advisory Group, Jennifer Lentfer nor Mary Ann Clements, will have access to these spaces or to recordings of them. These are held by the other members of our Advisory Circle, namely Esau Goldsmith, Pontso Mafethe, Roshni Nuggehalli and Swatee Deepak, who also run a dedicated space within our online Healing Solidarity Collective called Bearings: People of Colour Collective, which only People of Colour are able to join. (We would also draw your attention to the Gender and Development Network Women of Colour Forum and the BOND People of Colour Working Group.)

If you are white and feel uncomfortable in any way about not being able to access these spaces, we invite you to consider that this discomfort is nothing compared to the burden of experiencing racism for people of colour. The privilege of access to any space we choose is very often a benefit of whiteness and of white supremacy culture, a global system of injustice that always privileges whiteness. We know that many of us who are raced as white experience other forms of oppression, but privilege in relation to the colour of our skin is always afforded to us. Healing Solidarity runs a practice group for white people working in the global development sector to support them to reflect on and develop anti-racist practices without overburdening the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour with whom they work alongside.