SEWF 2020: White allies – wield your privilege!

If you want to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement, you need to do your homework and wield your privilege. 

This was the clear message given to all the white people watching the conversation about how social enterprises were tackling inequality on the third day of the Social Enterprise World Forum 2020, which this year is taking place online. 

Hosting the debate, Lauren Sears of Canada's Imaginal Ventures (pictured below top left), pointed out that many of the people aiming to make positive change in society and with philanthropic money were white. How could these people be good allies to indiginous people, black people and brown people who were fighting to make society more equal, she asked.

Adair Mosley, president and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities in Minnesota in the USA (pictured above), agreed that allies were critical "in moving towards a more just and equitable society".

Racial inequality panel SEWF 2020

But, he emphasised, "they have to do the work in understanding the racial inequalities that exist in our country".

That didn't mean asking ethnic minority people what their experiences were like.

"You can't put that on the backs of black and brown people, we are shouldering that already," he said. 

White people had to "understand their place and their privilege", he said. And this privilege needed to be used. 

You have to do the work in understanding the racial inequalities that exist in our country

"You need to wield that privilege on behalf of others," he said, pointing out that meant their power and their resources.

Mosley urged white people to go into places where the conversation about racial inequality wasn't taking place and encourage other white people change their perspective.

"It's not about having that conversation with black and brown people," he said. "We are well aware of the injustices. You need to have it with people who look like you, and people who have power and influence. The way to eradicate inequality is to have the converation in spaces where we aren't currently present."

Mosley was joined on the panel by Dawain Arrington, from DC Central Kitchen in the USA, and Barbara Ward-Burkitt, of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre in Canada. All the panellists agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic had exacerbated the many inequalities that their communities were already facing. 


Pioneers Post is a media partner to the Social Enterprise World Forum 2020 and we’ll be reporting all week – stay tuned for more and follow #SEWFDigital online