One of Pride in London’s senior Black volunteers has quit due to concerns about racism in the organisation.
Rhammel Afflick, 26, resigned from his role as Director of Communications last month following seven years of volunteer work.
While Afflick said the Pride event was important for him, as it’s one of the most visible LGBTQ+ organisations in the UK, he admitted that he’s lost confidence in their ability to “successfully address the adversities faced by our multi-faceted communities.”
In an essay, the writer and campaigner said there’s an “unfortunate reluctance” within Pride in London’s leadership to combat the marginalisation of women, people of colour and those with disabilities, as well as “other forms of unacceptable discrimination”.
“This reluctance has been evident through a series of decisions taken by Pride in London’s leadership. These decisions are detrimental to all our communities but in particular to Black LGBT+ people,” he said.
“I’ve also personally witnessed the leadership’s insistence on ignoring Black voices in our communities and amongst our own volunteers when they speak up and speak out. I cannot and will not condone Pride in London’s insistence on finding reasons to look the other way.”
Afflick called out the organisation for failing to take “meaningful action” against anti-racism following the murder of George Floyd, as well as the numerous protests that took place across the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Pride has shown that it is capable of acting quickly. When a magazine associated with the organisation published a transphobic article, within hours, the board issued a swift, unequivocal condemnation,” he explained.
“I am disappointed that Pride are unable to respond to racism with the same vim.”
Speaking with The Independent, Afflick cited Pride in London’s decisions to allow the Home Office and UKIP to march at events as another reason for his departure, due to their strained relationships with ethnic minorities.
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“Pride in London is not deemed a safe space by most prominent Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT+ activists. This is as a result of deep-rooted racism in the LGBT+ community which often surfaces in mainstream LGBT+ spaces,” he told the publication.
“Many Black volunteers have spoken out against Pride’s lack of diversity. Many Black volunteers have also left, unable or unwilling to keep fighting within an organisation where they didn’t feel their voices were valued, respected or heard.
“It cannot be right that Black voices continue to experience indifference to their plight and, more often than not, a hostile environment.”
Another former staffer corroborated Afflick’s claims about diversity, telling The Independent that Pride in London have a habit of hiring white men.
“It’s no secret that there are problems within Pride in London where race is concerned. This is not new. There’s a lack of faith in pride at this point. Having witnessed this pattern of behaviour for some time, I can tell you that this doesn’t inspire much confidence,” they said.
“If you’d said to me years ago that I’d resign from my role at Pride in London, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I don’t feel that I could’ve remained true to my own morals, values and beliefs in what’s best for our communities by staying involved in an organisation that thinks it can turn a blind eye to diversity.”
One more volunteer said “the trail of ex-volunteers” who have left the organisation will “tell you a lot” about their lack of inclusivity and diversity.
Last month I decided to resign from @PrideInLondon.
I cannot standby an organisation that appears to be insistent on failing black and brown voices in LGBT+ communities. But it’s deeper than that so I’ve decided to write about. https://t.co/2aXb08y6GX (1/n)
— Rhammel (@Rhammified) March 17, 2021
Following Afflick’s essay and interview with The Independent, a spokesperson for Pride in London issued an apology.
“Pride in London is run by volunteers and we work hard to create an event that is inclusive and accessible, bringing together more LGBT+ groups and communities than any other event in the UK,” they said.
“That said, we know we don’t always get everything right, and we want to apologise to our volunteers and our communities – particularly people of colour and those from Black communities – for whom we’ve missed the mark in terms of support and inclusion.
“We know we must do better to serve the communities we represent, especially those who are underrepresented, and we accept the seriousness of the issues raised with us.
“The board of directors takes full accountability of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion. To begin to address some of these issues, we developed a diversity and inclusion strategy last year which we are in the process of implementing, though we are very much still on this journey.
“We accept that we need to be in a place where we are centering the marginalised voices in our communities in everything that we do, and are in the process of organising listening sessions and creating safe spaces and peer groups for these underrepresented voices.
“In this way we hope to create a more inclusive culture and help give Black volunteers and volunteers of colour the support they deserve.”