WHAT WE BELIEVE
Our Beliefs and Values
London Black Women’s Project is an organisation FOR BLACK WOMEN, BY BLACK WOMEN.
We define ourselves as specialist and dedicated.
By specialist we mean that we develop and deliver our services to BME women and girls. As such, our services benefit from our experience of direct frontline delivery with BME women and girls. We document our work to better understand the views of BME women and girls, we analyse trends in frontline delivery and casework applying the critical lens of intersectionality, and we ensure that the voice of BME women and girls leads our approach.
As a specialist organisation, we are managed and lead by BME women and girls. This is important to ensure representation and voice in governance, management, project and service development and delivery.
As a specialist organisation, the main aim is addressing violence against women and girls (VAWG) in all aspects of the work conducted by organisation. For BME women and girls, this means that our work addresses intersectional oppression faced by BME women and girls.
By dedicated we identify with the ideological aims of black feminism that is, creating safe, representative and empowering space for BME women and girls who use the services of LBWP and who deliver services at LBWP. Our commitment means that race, class, gender, sexuality and all other oppressions are clearly identified in the policies, practices and services of organisation and reflected in the staff and management composition. We commit to ensuring that in addressing such oppressions the infrastructure of organisation is developed as a sustainable knowledge base and that the culture of organisation reflects diversity as consistent with origin of organisation.
As a dedicated and specialist organisation, our work is developed historically that is, it is consistent with the function, operation and strategic aims of a BME women and girls’ organisation, that it is not simply ‘added-on’ to services as this would constitute ‘a-historical’ development which is not consistent with addressing intersectional oppression. We refer to this process as historical relevancy.
In defining ourselves as such, we incorporate all aspects of the definition above and cannot, and will not dissect (applying some aspects of the definition and not others) to the specialist and dedicated nature of our existence in any manner.
We consider intersectionality as critical to our existence.
Intersectionality helps us to understand that different forms and experiences of oppression exist together and are interconnected for BME women and girls. This understanding is critical to the way we develop and deliver our services because it provides us with historical relevancy for the work we do, promotes concepts of equality and justice through transformative space that is, we must address social problems structurally, and the recovery of voice, identity and representation are imbedded in our approach. BME women and girls are represented and reflected in organisation, work and governance. We are not an add-on.
The idea that there is no hierarchy of oppression and that the lives of black women intersect and interconnect in various ways and degrees is critical to intersectionality. Most literature defines the intersection as one of race, class and gender. We acknowledge that there are other oppressions faced by women including oppression expressed as homophobia due to sexual orientation, specific discrimination faced by disabled women, oppression experienced by women of first nations and indigenous communities, and oppression against women as a result of their migrant status among other experiences of oppression and situations facing women. Within the context of intersectionality, there is scope and reference to incorporate a wider understanding of oppression along the same lines that is, there is no hierarchy of oppression.
Intersectionality is relevant to LBWP as an analytical tool, a framework and discourse for understanding oppression affecting the lives of black women and girls. It helps us to develop services so that delivery frameworks consider the intersecting realities affecting the lives of BME women and girls. Critical to this framework is that ‘the piecemeal, single issue response to VAWG’ expressed in racial terms against certain communities does not meet the needs of BME women and girls. Intersectionality suggests that a framework of holistic provision developed from the perspective of historical relevancy is best suited to meet the needs of BME women and girls experiencing VAWG.
We consider the idea of historical relevancy as central to our ongoing development.
Historical relevancy provides a politicised and historical understanding of intersectionality, black feminism and other progressive ideology that we use to define identity, purpose and movement.
In current times, and in western capitalist nations, diaspora as experience of people, is depoliticised and made a-historical. We see this through initiatives such as assimilation, mainstreaming, cohesion and ‘genericism’. This is also called ERASURE of who we are, how we have existed and how we wish to define our future.
Historical relevancy gives us both space and agency through commonality of history but not of experience as it recognises experience as diverse and intersectional.
The commonality of history is grounded in colonial, post-colonial, imperial, neo-imperial, and post structural struggle. Today, our struggle encapsulates transition from social welfare to neo-liberalism. While many nations fall under concepts such as post structural adjustment, it is critical to this analysis that post structuralism is also viewed intersectionally that is, where nations have experienced colonialism, then there experience of post structural adjustment will be defined in that context. Let us not pretend that the playing field is level where we have gaps in accumulation widening and where 1% control the wealth of nations.
At LBWP historical relevancy helps us to define our political position as relevant in history thereby providing us with a framework to challenge ‘othering’ discourses.
We commit to a position of progressive social change.
Black feminism believes that equality within unequal economic and social systems cannot be achieved for women and girls because within such systems, there is a re-production of tensions among human beings and the tension is created by inequality based on power and control dynamics.
A central idea to addressing VAWG is challenging power and control dynamics ultimately leading to smashing patriarchy.
Black feminism requires progressive change to address patriarchy addressing multiple systems of oppression – political, economic and social inequality and sexism, racism among other forms of discrimination. The ultimate goal of feminism (black and universal) is progressive structural and institutional change. Black women demand a better world based on a different set of ideas which reflect our humanity.
At LBWP this perspective is relevant because we seek to challenge and address systems of oppression from a collective, and not individual, perspective.
Our ultimate goal is not ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ but rather to transform the structures of power and control which enable the construction of the glass ceiling in the first place.
As part of a change process, we work in ways that shifts power dynamics. Women and girls who use our services participate on the basis of equality in discussion around needs and outcomes, influence the delivery of services, and maintain a voice throughout the intervention. Critical to any kind of intervention is the idea of prevention.
London Black Women’s Project is for Black Women, by Black Women
For black women, by black women means all of the above that is, our ‘project’ and its trajectory does not separate our specialist and dedicated nature from the framework and discourse on intersectionality, the significance of historical relevancy and the necessity for social change. Simply expressed, we cannot remove historical relevancy from our struggle as black women because our global environment remains hostile, non-participatory and exclusive.
We make no assumption that all black women relate and experience oppression in the same way, there is diverse narrative throughout the history and politics of black women. However, the concepts above create common ground in the expression of oppression.