Restless Development has always stood for people demanding justice and leading change in their communities, especially those whose voices have been historically ignored or silenced.
That continues today–we unequivocally believe Black Lives Matter and that ending racist violence against people of colour is a fundamental part of human rights, as we expressed last week.
We grieve the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and all those whose lives have been taken due to police brutality.
Many of the protests unfolding in the US and around the world are youth-led and youth organised. We know that their dedication and resourcefulness is the key to this fight.
Young people have made it clear that being able to hold their governments and institutions accountable and have a say in decisions that affect them are not just a right, but essential to addressing challenges in their communities and countries.
In the US, many young people are questioning reforms and investments that expand or equip police departments at the expense of critical social services.
We stand in solidarity with their calls for investment in youth development, youth employment, access to healthcare, affordable housing, and equality in education, as well as their calls for increased accountability of police departments and government agencies to address systemic racism and violence.
Last week one of our volunteers got in touch to remind us of something Desmond Tutu said: ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’.
It is in this vein that we feel a responsibility as a global organisation to echo and amplify the voices of young people, many of whom belong to our global youth networks, that stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
While the world responds to the spate of deaths in the US, anti-blackness is pervasive across the world. It may manifest differently depending on the country, but we believe in our role and responsibility to fight for a world free of racism.
As an organisation we are committed to addressing injustice and racism affecting the black community, and every group facing injustice because of their sexuality, race, identity, gender, age or any other characteristic.
Our actions must be long-term and they must go to the root of our organisation. We need to do much more to address the structural racism that exists within and outside of our organisation.
Below are some of our commitments, but they are just a starting point. We will keep listening and learning and adding to these actions so that we are more active in this fight:
- Restless Development’s strength is in the leadership of young people, and in the leadership of our Hubs across Africa and Asia. We acknowledge that our senior leadership team and international board do not adequately represent staff and communities we work with. It is our priority to address this.
Some of the ways we are bringing about change is through our three-year global diversity and inclusion strategy that all of our leadership has committed to; our Restless Leaders initiative, launched earlier this year, that supports the professional journey of our staff and volunteers worldwide including exploring structural barriers to attaining Senior Leadership positions; and by continuing our efforts to distribute leadership across our Hubs.
- We commit to address the lack of diversity in our London-based team. We need to reassess our application and recruitment processes and address our in-built biases and the barriers that are stopping people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds making up a greater proportion of our UK-based staff. We are similarly committed to improving diversity and inclusion in our US Hub staff and Board.
- We want to elevate the voices and work of youth activists, so we offer our platforms and our channels to your voice and your opinions on the issues that matter. We will ensure these youth voices are diverse and representative, giving more space to groups facing discrimination.
- You can blog on We Are Restless and you can take over our social feeds – contact us if you have an idea. We invite topics like decarceration, getting police out of schools, restorative justice, black trans lives, and many other related themes.
- We will work with young people and our staff to create and increase communications that raise more awareness on the issues affecting the black community through our media channels, and online and offline events.
- We will use our platforms to address racism, white supremacy and discrimination in our own sector – international development and volunteering. Our Finance Director, Segun Olowookere, has published this blog, and we will continue to have these conversations through our Power Shifting series too.
- Through our work, including “the Development Alternative,” we will continue to address inequality and shift power to local civil society organisations, and we will do more to address the systemic causes behind power imbalances and inequality.
- We will support our staff and networks to mobilise in support of Black Lives Matter and other relevant movements and organisations tackling discrimination by signposting to petitions, ways to fund movements, and educational resources on racism, white privilege and other relevant topics.
Join the Black Lives Movement here
5 Ways To Donate To Honor George Floyd And Work For Justice & Accountability
26 ways to be in the struggle beyond the streets
Teen Vogue: How To Support the Protesters Demanding Support for George Floyd
10 Ways to Support the Protests Outside of Bail Funds
Letters for Black Lives, a set of crowdsourced, multilingual, and culturally-aware resources aimed at creating a space for open and honest conversations about racial justice, police violence, and anti-Blackness in our families and communities.
- We will proactively gather suggestions for how we can support youth activists and movements and how we can take more action, especially from members of our network from ethnic minority communities. Please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you have suggestions or ideas to share. As a start, we offer these resources on how young people can monitor and hold their governments and institutions accountable: An accountability model that puts young people at the centre of change
As we said, this is just a starting point. We will keep listening. We will keep changing. We will work harder to end systemic racism, both inside and outside of our organisation, and we will keep supporting young people to fight discrimination and injustice wherever they are.