The social sector is known to have a halo of ‘good’ around it – making the idea that a nonprofit may be perpetuating white supremacy or racism itself seemingly difficult to believe at first glance to some. But many nonprofits were created and operate within the confines of white supremacist society and thus their continued success is synonymous with the continuation of white supremacy. Here are some places you might find it in the social sector so that you can help dismantle it:
Leadership and Staff
- One of the most visual representations of white supremacy, is the staff composed of people of color?
- If so, are they in leadership positions or are they primarily tokenized?
- Do the hiring and promotion practices knowingly or silently rely on signs of ‘whiteness’ like degrees and names?
- Are the salary ranges made publicly available?
- Is there meaningful conversation about how privilege plays a role in who can afford to be a nonprofit staff member?
- Do the Board Members represent the community that the nonprofit is serving?
- Is there meaningful diversity of experience, expertise, and expectation?
- Are the opinions of people of color given the same weight in conversation or are they frequently dismissed?
- Are disenfranchised individuals able to access services?
- If this is the crux of the work, are they given the power to make decisions for themselves or does the organization dictate programs and funds without meaningful input from the community?
- Are we giving an equal voice to community members to share their story?
- Is there a shared understanding of the need to be actively anti-racist in the work across staff?
- Does the language used in the office, in external communications, and with service recipients recognize the systemic racism at play?
- Does a ‘color-blind’ culture overshadow the experiences of non-white individuals?
- Is the issue of microaggressions tackled head on and dismantled?
- Do the programs acknowledge the historic and systemic racism that has created the social ill being addressed?
- Is the responsibility of the situation or the expectation to surface from it being placed on the service recipients/those in need of the nonprofit’s services?
- Does the program staff appreciate the mental health impacts of racist-driven trauma when designing programs?
These are just a few places to start when undoing white supremacy in the social sector. Unfortunately, it is both pervasive and pernicious and requires consistent, conscious effort from each of us, particularly those in power, to work to overturn it.
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.