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‘Whiteness’ survey causes major upset for Oxfam staff

A staff survey carried out at Oxfam has revealed that a significant number of their staff were upset because the survey described ‘whiteness’ to be the ‘preservation of power and domination for the benefit of white people.’

The subject of the survey, namely racial justice, was circulated among the 1,800 UK staff who work for Oxfam.

It described racism as ‘created by white nations for the benefit of white people.’ The survey went further by saying that ‘to some degree all echelons of power only exist to serve whiteness.’

Employees were given different categories to describe themselves, namely ‘non-racist’, ‘anti-racist’, and none/neither’. They were also asked to describe the racial profile they identify with under one of two headings.

The headings they were asked to describe themselves as were:

·      White, black, person of colour (BIPOC)

·      Black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME)

Oxfam stated that the survey was carried out by a working group and that all responses were voluntary.

Some employees stated that they found the survey offensive. Others said that it was divisive. One staff member commented to The Times that she wondered why the organisers presumed that the staff (who all work for a humanitarian charity) were bigots and racists.

One staff member made the point that it felt as if they were being ‘signposted into a category’ even though they may not have wished to be labelled that way.

One woman said that she did not want to be sub categorised as a white supremist and neither did she choose to be labelled a full-on racist. She also did not feel she needed to apologise for being a white woman.

A spokesperson for Oxfam stated that the company opposed racism. It also opposed other forms of discrimination which blighted countless lives the world over, along with trapping people in poverty.

The spokesperson said that Oxfam believes that racism only makes it harder for people to earn a living. Racism makes it almost impossible to feed their children and put roofs over their heads.

Oxfam and several other charities were, in 2018, involved in an horrific worldwide scandal which involved not only sexual abuse, but witness intimidation and bullying.

The charity served a three-year ban for receiving any aid funding from the UK.

Unfortunately, earlier this year the charity was suspended once again after new allegations came to light about two Oxfam members working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Reportedly, three aid workers have been dismissed over these allegations.

Oxfam states that they are working hard to become anti-racist. They believe that the survey played an important part in ensuring that the charity lives up to its values.

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