On Wednesday 24 June, WEAll hosted an online event with Ayomide (Ayo) Fatunde: ‘Systemic Racism, Black Lives Matter and the Wellbeing Economy’.
WEAll organised this event to create a space for dialogue about systemic racism and how it relates to our work to transform economies.
If we’re serious about transforming our economic systems so that they deliver for everyone, then we also have to be serious about equity and justice. Racial injustice is an economic problem – it’s baked into our current economic model. Those of us working for change have a responsibility to be proactively anti-racist as we do so.
WEAll as an organisation is still learning in this space, and we know many of our members are too. We’ve always understood the need to tackle systemic racism but we haven’t always given it the focus it deserves.
That’s why we were so excited to have the opportunity to learn from Ayo, a Nigerian-American blogger and activist who is currently working in the automotive industry in Germany. Check out her own blog at toxicallyfeminine.com and the brilliant piece On Violence she recently wrote for WEAll.
Ayo kicked off the event by asking participants to vote on which aspect of systemic racism we found most uncomfortable – “White Supremacy in societal structures” got the most votes, so that’s where she started. Sharing a very helpful set of definitions (download PDF here), Ayo spoke about the historical context for white supremacy, particularly in the USA. She emphasised the importance of distinguishing between personal and systemic racism/white supremacy.
“We can’t just focus on individuals in discussions on race and police – we need to talk about systems, and the policies and structures within them”
Participants from around the world asked questions, leading to an illuminating discussion about neo-colonialism and the economic structures and decisions which perpetuate inequality. Ayo also shared her own personal experiences of systemic racism in the different places she has lived (Nigeria, Miami, Kenya and Germany).
In terms of advice for white people who are seeking to be good Allies in the Black Lives Matter movement, she said:
“A good ally knows when to put their feelings aside – and listen, as opposed to speaking.
We need to work work on this at 3 levels: have a tough conversation with yourself, have a tough conversation with friends and family, and have tough conversations with the political system.
Keep having it. That’s the important part.”
This is just the beginning of a fundamental conversation about systemic racism and how the wellbeing economy movement can proactively confront it in our efforts to transform the economic system.
Discussion and action will continue via the WEAll Citizens platform.
By Lisa Hough-Stewart
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