BAFTs and the Anti-Racism Charter: A Case Study

Categories: News, FeaturedPublished On: 14th March, 20241246 words6.2 min read

BAFTs and the Anti-Racism Charter: A Case Study

Categories: News, FeaturedPublished On: 14th March, 202456.6 min read

Interview with Lenshina Hines, Chair BAFTs fair trade Network UK

Lenshina Hines is a partner at Fair and Fabulous, a fair trade shop in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, as well as the secretary of the local fair trade Town group, working closely with Fair Trade Wales. The shop is a member of BAFTs fair trade Network UK, a network of independent shops and suppliers dedicated to promoting fair trade retail in the UK. BAFTs is itself a member of the World fair trade Organisation (WFTO).

In June 2020, Lenshina was frustrated at BAFTs’ lack of public response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the UK, and wrote to ask that they follow the principles of social justice that guide the fair trade movement and stand in solidarity with the BLM campaigning for equality.

Lenshina found that BAFTs sometimes did not speak out on issues that they agreed with and personally gave support to because the board was unsure of how to proceed and were afraid of backlash from their members or the media. Lenshina was invited to join the board and subsequently became the Chair of BAFTs in 2022.

However, as one of the few global majority (non-white) members of the community and the first ever Black board member, Lenshina felt the burden of driving the anti-racism work. She worked with Hub Cymru Africa (HCA) and the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) to establish BAFTs as a signatory of the newly published Anti-Racism Charter. She said:

“Having HCA’s support meant that I didn’t feel alone, single handedly having to figure out how to drive change in the organisation. I now had informed backing and a clear framework”.

In October 2022, BAFTs pledged to Charter; Lenshina welcomed the achievement saying:

“Now we [BAFTs] mark events such as British Black History Month, and LGBTQI+ History Month. We have developed social media procedures for reviewing any potentially controversial or contentious social media posts which allows us to use our voice and not stay silent out of fear.”

BAFTs Board members have joined HCA’s Anti-Racism Community of Practice and Lenshina, as chair of BAFTs, has collaborated with HCA and Fair Trade Wales to chair an online panel discussion by fair trade suppliers as part of HCA’s Reframing the Narrative series.

BAFTs has continued to share its learning with its members. At the BAFTs 2022 conference in Machynlleth, an HCA and SSAP gave a lecture on the importance of courage in global solidarity. Furthermore, BAFTs and Wales Africa community leader Martha Musonza Holman spoke to delegates about the experiences of Black women in Wales during the early days of the Black Lives Matter protests.

The BAFTs Board chose to initially focus on Charter Points:

1. We commit to addressing racism. It is everyone’s problem, not the burden of a single group of people alone, and ending it is beneficial to all

8. We will adopt appropriate and thoughtful language, storytelling and images. We recognise that they have meaning, can cause harm and can reinforce racism

12. We will commit to involving our partners, board, volunteers and broader audience in our work on this charter.

They felt the need to highlight the responsibility of the BAFTs community to address racism and that language and storytelling are key components of getting fair trade right. As a network organisation, their responsibility was also to involve all of their members.

To further meet this aim, following a HCA facilitated Board-discussion on implementing the Anti-Racism Charter. HCA and SSAP were again invited to the 2023 BAFTs Conference. HCA delivered a workshop to audience members on how to implement changes to the language and images they used to promote fair trade. Themes included: 

  • informed consent
  • harm in poverty porn
  • the impact of power dynamics when collecting stories, and 
  • unconscious stereotypes when sharing stories.

The vast majority of audience members made commitments to assign actions during the session, such as reviewing the age of images and stories shared. Feedback from the workshop also demonstrated a change in attitude, including:

“I felt challenged by my own ignorance around racism or lack of action around anti-racism, inspired by the action of HCA to support organisations. I will make a more conscious effort to actively engage in anti-racism.”

“I learned about all the resources on HCA about diaspora, storytelling and anti-racism.”

“I felt like I have a lot to learn as this is core to my business.”

“I will learn more about effective and informed and thoughtful storytelling.”

“I learned great tips on what ‘good’ looks like, so I can use these to be even better at helping the right way.”

“I will relay what we have learnt to the rest of the team to ensure we are all aware of the responsible approach to language and use of images.”

The longer-term impact of the workshop was informally and incidentally reported to Fair Trade Wales by Tracy Mitchell from True Origin who did not know the connection between HCA and Fair Trade Wales:

“They had been to the BAFTs conference and attended your workshop and thought it was excellent. We were updating each other on our work, and I don’t think they realised how connected we are as they got out their notes from your workshop, told me in detail all about it and how they will be implementing it and thinking about their comms from now.

“It was lovely to hear, particularly because it wasn’t asked for feedback, they were just telling someone about things they had done recently and were clearly invigorated and excited by it.”

Last October, as part of Black History Month 2023, BAFTs announced the next 3 Charter points it plans to address in the coming year in a special newsletter to all members:

“Black History Month also marks a year since we signed up to our first 3 goals of the Anti-Racism Charter. We have appreciated the challenge of exploring them and receiving training and help from HCA both online and at the conference.

“We are pleased to announce the next three goals we have chosen for the coming year, which are:

4. We will commit to taking ownership of developing our own deeper understanding of the issues of racism and how they impact our thinking.

5. We are an organisation that welcomes critical feedback, with a view to learning and improving our work. We will act without defensiveness or negative repercussions for those highlighting racist or colonial practices and create accountability mechanisms within our work.

11. We will consider the wider global injustices in our work and consider the negative impact of our actions on the climate and environment and mitigate them, acknowledging that the people with the lowest carbon footprint are the ones that feel the greatest impact.

“We are looking forward to exploring these goals together and moving forward in our understanding of what it means to be truly anti-racist.”

Change is needed in both attitudes and practice. To achieve this, members of the Wales Africa community need to share Lenshina’s courage. There are barriers for micro-charities in the community to signing the Anti-Racism Charter, most notably time commitments. Potential participants also report feeling that they are “not yet doing enough” to be able to publicly commit to the charter. However, this case study demonstrates that many organisations who may not think that the Charter is “for them” still benefit from discussing and reflecting on the principles within the charter, and addressing individual charter points in manageable chunks to make impactful changes.