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decolonization in fundraising with Martha Awojobi

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The nonprofit sector has a problem with racism and white supremacy. Well, not just the nonprofit sector - a lot of sectors and really, society in general. But hey - this is a podcast for the nonprofit sector, so we’re going to be focusing on that in today’s episode with Martha Awojobi, the curator of #BAMEOnline Conference, a series of online events that centers fundraisers of colour, showcases new talent, and gets to the heart of how we can dismantle structural racism in fundraising and in the wider charity sector. Martha is a consultant for non-profits specialising in event curation, recruitment and income generation with an anti-racist lens.

The truth is that philanthropy has a long history of excluding people of color from their missions and communities—and it's not just about money. It's also about how we think about making change.

Myths that Martha wants us to walk away from:

  • Wealth is a product of individual hard work. The wealth in our sector didn’t come out of “hard work”. There was a history of wealth accumulation based on the theft of knowledge and on slavery that has built the riches that we see in philanthropy.

  • White supremacy doesn’t exist in our sector. As a sector dedicated to “good work”, it’s hard to see that racism is also perpetuated. This is made worse by the fact that many people just put their head in the sand and don’t engage or want to talk about their privileges and how these systemic issues affect people of colour. We have to acknowledge that it exists and reflect on how we participate to create change.

Five Stages of Decolonization

  • Rediscovery and recovery. Acknowledging racism, colonial practices and harm is hard work. This is all about learning and unlearning and discovering the ugly truth of colonization. We are all products of a white supremacist society and the first step is to recognize it in yourself and really dedicate yourself to learning.

  • Mourning. This is the social process that we are supposed to do together. It involves grief, anger, and sadness. It's not just for people of color, white people have to dehumanize themselves in order to participate in the system of racism. Learning to let go in sadness and anger is part of the process.

  • Dreaming. This is about decolonizing the mind to bring in new ideas instead of using the same ideas that have been introduced by colonizers. This is perhaps the hardest stage, but also exciting.

  • Commitment. Establishing the intention to manifest your anti-racist vision.

  • Action. Select the steps that you want to take and do what you have to do.

Favourite Quotes from Today’s Episode

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“The lack of learning and the lack of willingness to learn, that lack of willingness to see yourself as part of the problem and to understand the white supremacist within - it's kind of all the nature of racism and white supremacy. To make it so ugly and so terrifying that people don't want to engage with it. ”

“Toni Morrison said that the very function of racism is a distraction. And it would keep you having to do short term, but ultimately like structural they're so much bigger than us. They are so strong and interwoven, so we need to be strong. We need to be collaborative and that can only happen with really taking the time to build trust, to build collaboration and coalition. And that work is really, really hard. I think there's space for us to work together and provide both immediate support and have that space for dreaming.”

Resources from this Episode

BAME Online Conference 2022

JMB Consulting

Martha Awojobi | Twitter

The Good Partnership