Article//Why Community Resourcing is a Tool for Liberation

Nonhlanhla writes about the history of wealth in the UK and the importance of community resourcing for marginalised people.

Across history, the resources for racialised communities to live full lives have been systematically denied.

The enclosure of wealth and power in the hands of wealthy white people is a legacy of slavery and colonialism. It saw generation after generation of white people getting richer and richer, while racialised, queer and disabled people got poorer and poorer.

Runnymede Trust’s The Colour of Money report published in 2020 illustrated the severity of the racial wealth gap in the UK. Bangladeshi and Black African households have only 10% of the average wealth of white British households. UK Black Pride’s research also shows that British gay, bisexual and transgender employees earn 16% less on average than heterosexual peers.

This enclosure of wealth has resulted in marginalised communities being plunged into a dire cycle of crisis and precarity. It’s resulted in lack of access to shelter, food, and healthcare. And ultimately, a lack of possibility to self determine outside of the poverty that racial capitalism socialises marginalised people into.

Throughout history, people have been coming together to meet community needs in response to the inability to rely on an economic system that is not built for us.

In meeting community needs, these initiatives have fed, housed, healed and offered political education for marginalised folk to define their existence and destinities outside of how racial capitalism pre-determines folk towards poverty and precarity.

This survival work has been key to the resistance of marginalised communities. However it’s drastically underfunded and resourced, leading to communities relying on unstable philanthropic funding.

To receive monetary support, communities face having to depoliticise their work, to meet the changing whims of funding priorities and the speculation and policising that is funding reports.

The philanthropic model of moving stolen wealth (through slavery, colonialism and racial capitalism), into the communities where the wealth was stolen puts people in a situation of navigating power dynamics that affirm that marginalised communities cannot be trusted with wealth. This further keeps wealth enclosed in the hands of rich white people.

For example, research found that 5% of funding went to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic organisations. Of that 5%, the funding was used on service provisions/survival work of meeting the needs of communities who are impacted by structural inequality. It’s worth noting that this percentage doesn’t capture unregistered groups who have not gone through the legalised structures of setting up as organisations/charities – which is a lot of marginalised community groups.

This problem leaves community groups under-resourced and unable to deliver the work that matters in the community.

Which begs the question – how are we meant to survive in an economic system that makes it almost impossible to? How have communities survived under precarity in the past, and what does that look like for us now?

This has been on our mind a lot at Decolonising Economics – in our work and in the communities we work with. It has led to us being engaged in some interesting and vital conversation with organisers about Community Resourcing sparked by the work of Zahra Dahlilah on the Resourcing Your Community Toolkit, and how people are building resources and power to meet the needs of their communities without the interference of the extractive economy.

Community Resourcing refers to the ways in which communities are coming together to collectively save towards their liberation. We often think about how during enslavement, enslaved people would collectively save for the freedom of one person, then do it all over again with the vision of their collective freedom. Or how when the Windrush generation arrived in the UK and were faced with discrimination, where they were unable to take out loans to buy houses or even rent – they would come together and collectively save to purchase homes to be lived in collectively.

These forms or collective saving exists but are hidden throughout history due to the hegemony of the capitalist individualistic and competitive narratives. Community Resourcing as a tool reminds us that sharing, caring and trust helps us to move towards our collective liberation,

To further explore the questions of community resourcing, we collaborated with Black and Trans organisers who are at the forefront of mobilising towards the creation of resources to care for their communities. We’re really excited to launch two event recordings to educate people on what community resourcing is, what it looks like and how organisers are navigating challenges towards creating self sustaining communities whilst applying pressure on the state.

Find out more about the events and watch our YouTube videos!

Want to learn more?

Read the Resourcing Your Community Toolkit.

Watch our four-part series Decolonising Futures, where we speak to community leaders about a Just Transition world.