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Seeping Racism & The Paradox Of "Doing Good": What It's Like To Be A Black Woman In Leadership In The Development Sector

“When I began working in international development, I didn’t even think about the injustices in the sector. I didn’t understand how profoundly racist, exclusive and privileged it was/is. However, I should have picked that up looking at requirements [for a job], such as having super interesting internships in the United Nations in New York or Geneva which mostly also happen to be unpaid.” 

Angela Bruce-Raeburn is the founder of DiverseDev in the USA, an organisation dedicated to starting conversations about diversity and inclusion while challenging the power imbalance in the development sector. Despite being outspoken about racial injustices in development, Angela admits she never sought out to challenge these structures when she began her career. Like many black and brown women, she had to see the paradox of the ‘doing good sector’ for her to begin pushing back. On her first job in the sector in 2010 during the Haitian earthquake, she saw how expatriates and local/national staff were treated differently. Expatriates held the leadership positions in the country offices as well as head offices. Angela wanted to speak up but hesitated.