[Official Statement] The Digital Principles team stands in solidarity with our Black colleagues, communities, and loved ones
Since their inception, the Principles for Digital Development have worked and advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion in international development projects. They were created with the belief that digital technologies can be the great equalizer if leveraged properly, and that begins with greater representation in technology. Today, the Digital Principles team attests our firm stance against racism and police brutality in the United States. We stand in solidarity with the African American community in the fight for justice and liberation and assert that Black Lives Matter.
We are aware that this statement is overdue. We are aware that many organizations have made public statements already.
But even more, we are aware that we, and the entirety of the international development sector, have a long way to go.
Every day we are inspired by the work that our fellow digital development practitioners do. Our network is comprised of phenomenal individuals and leaders that challenge inequality and uplift the traditionally underserved despite scarce resources and funding. So much light and hope for a better future has stemmed from their tireless efforts. We are proud to work alongside these individuals as we strive to create a more equitable and just world.
We know that the horrific murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, along with those of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others before them, is just one instance of decades and centuries of racism and police brutality. We know that the protests in the United States and across the world are the inevitable outcome of the pervasive violence and systemic racism in our societies. It is not enough for us to focus on international challenges of inequality – we must also look internally at our own nations and address these unacceptable acts head on.
Like the Digital Principles, it is far too easy to endorse and say Black Lives Matter, but how are we, as organizations and individuals, living up to that statement?
We can no longer be more devoted to order than to justice, nor continue to treat diversity as a checkbox in our reporting systems in lieu of true inclusion. This kind of mentality thrives in our sector. We must be better about funding and partnering with organizations that are led by and employ black, indigenous, and people of color and marginalized groups, which have been consistently overlooked in favor of long-established western, and predominantly white institutions. As development practitioners, we often say that we strive for global peace and justice, but to truly do that we cannot ignore what’s been going on in our organizations, on our boards, through our partners, teams, and consultants for so long, which has been the true barrier to achieving equality and justice for all.
So, while the Digital Principles team stands in support with the black community, people of color, those with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ — and all other marginalized groups — we are recommitting to do better. We recommit to the Digital Principles community and those that we serve to reject inequity and inequality and ground our work in racial equality and social justice. We will continue to advance equity in our organization and our community by:
– Actively seeking and reaching out to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)-led international development organizations and partner with them to develop projects, resources, events, and tools.
– Supporting BIPOC colleagues and partners to advance the solutions they develop and as they lead the vision and strategy toward more inclusive digital development.
– Seeking and inviting BIPOC consultants that have traditionally been overlooked for well-known, white-led firms, to apply to our upcoming RFPs and grants.
– Increasing transparency and inclusion about how we source speakers, contributors, and other collaborators.
– Highlighting more examples and stories connected to the Digital Principles from BIPOC who are contributing to the change we need.
But we know this is not enough. These are only fledgling actions and we will strive to do better. As the stewards of the Digital Principles, we wholeheartedly invite our community and sector to hold us accountable as you have always done and hope you continue to help guide us to addressing issues in our work.
To the black members of our community: we see you and we stand with you. We hope you’ll begin to see our actions speak louder than our words. We remain committed to listening to and advocating for meaningful systems change.
To the digital development community, especially those who are white: We can be critical to the essential work of deconstructing systems of racism and oppression. But first we must start with a hard look inwards.
The Principles for Digital Development are guidelines designed to improve development projects, but now it is time for our team to reform our own diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. We invite you to join us.
The Principles for Digital Development Team
Laura Walker McDonald
The Principles for Digital Development Advisory Council
Dr. Henry Mwanyika
Channe Suy Lan