Policy guideline 1. Race
When we started the ISL we didn’t know that we would be getting requests from “white people” to volunteer. We didn’t know but somehow we should have anticipated this. Over the last year and past weeks I have had to think seriously about people wanting to volunteer with the ISL.
The ISL is open to participation from everyone. We do not discriminate on any basis. We do not want to discriminate on race.
While we are open our objective is not to reinforce the problematic of the “savior complex” or the “the white savior complex” in our work. So when people ask to volunteer what do we tell them? At the moment we have a disproportionate number of volunteer request. Young “white foreigners” from all over are able to travel freely to low-income but spiritually and culturally rich countries such as Jamaica, there Black or African counterparts in the Caribbean, Europe, United States or Canada cannot. This is an inequality and a social injustice. This dynamic is problematic for all involved those who want to volunteer and those who cannot volunteer.
This “volunteer dynamic” is present in several other low-income countries in the Caribbean, and Africa.
I am not only identifying an ideological or philosophical problem. I think it is a very important part of our experiment but questioning how we can come together to do make our interactions valuable. I have more questions than answers and at the moment I think we should move to considering a policy for “diversity participation in social work”. Some guidelines that we use to understand how to accomplish our objective of “creating a space to learn together and develop an understanding and motivation towards social leadership and creating positive alternative realities.
These are some questions I am considering for persons of diverse background interested in volunteering at the ISL ;
- What does it mean to be a volunteer?
- What is your experience with volunteering? In what areas have you volunteered and why?
- Has your volunteering only been with poor black communities in the Caribbean or Africa?
- Have you previously volunteered with children in low income “white” communities?
- What is your understanding of the objective of the ISL? How does it fit into your desire to volunteer?
- What are your views on blackness, Africa, racism and white privilege?
- Would you be willing to go through an intensive training programme before you begin to volunteer?
- What in your opinion are the social and economic priorities for Jamaica now?
- What in your opinion are the social and economic priorities of your country and how will that affect Jamaica?
- What is your proposed involvement with the ISL after you volunteer period has ended?
- What would you be willing to do to keep the ISL open?
- Are you able to offer or arrange opportunities to travel to your country for individuals you interact with while volunteering?
- What is your passion in life?
- What does social leadership look like with the dynamic of race?
There are more questions and more points to dissect but we have to start here .