“Dear White Women In International Development.” by Lazenya Weekes-Richemond, Global Health Specialist

You comprise 80% of the workforce and while you may be well-meaning and altruistic in your reasons for working in this sector, institutionalized white supremacy and your mere presence as white women make you complicit in the systemic oppression of the Black and Brown people you feel led to serve in the Global South. No matter how much you feel you are a neutral party just wanting to do good in the world, you are not and you must accept what you represent.

As a Black woman in the global health sector who has worked side-by-side with white women for 12 years on public health projects across Africa and the Caribbean, I’ve found many white women to be culturally illiterate and oblivious to the social nuances involved when leading non-profit organizations and managing projects targeting Black and Brown people. I am perplexed if you are genuinely unaware of how to meaningfully engage with the Black and Brown people you work with and on behalf of, or if you are just too lazy to put in the extra effort. The sector is awash with white saviours who consistently miss the mark. Billions of dollars are being wasted and you are failing to improve the health outcomes of those you supposedly serve.