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.

Article // Living Lavish; How Black Capitalism Took Over The Conversation.

In December 2020, Noni wrote an article discussing whether it is possible to ethically "secure the bag" for Gal-dem.

This is a crosspost, you can read the full article here.

Alternative paths to liberation

No examination of the development of Black capitalism is complete without the parallel stories of Black anti-capitalist resistance movements. Through keeping us chasing after the bag and working ourselves to the bone, capitalism puts blinkers on our eyes about what is possible – whilst simultaneously erasing the visibility of movements that show us that there has to be another way.

An example that haunts me is the devastation of America’s ‘Black Wall Street’ in Tulsa in 1921, where Black Americans who were divesting from the exploitation of their labour were massacred by the KKK for daring to dream differently. Because when we collectively divest from capitalism, we threaten capitalism.

During the course of my work at Decolonising Economics, I have the pleasure of uncovering the histories of Black communities resisting capitalism, which are also called ‘solidarity economic movements’ (SEMs). These look like mutual financial aid – such as when freed slaves would pool funds together to save up to buy the freedom of a still-enslaved peer, a process that would go on indefinitely.

One of the most relevant SEMs for Black people in 2020 and beyond is the cooperative movement. A cooperative, defined by Black economist Jessica Gordon Nempart, is;  “An autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly-owned and democratically – controlled enterprise.” 

In the UK, the cooperative movement (a similar set up to parallel community initiatives like Pardner or Susu) was instrumental in supporting the Windrush generation when they reached the hostile British shores and couldn’t get access to loans, jobs and housing. Black people developed “credit unions”, with the very first union set up in Hornsey in 1964 by West Indian migrants. These unions – which were collectively owned banks where individuals could contribute to a collective pool and members or the community could withdraw and invest from – allowed the Windrush generation to rent and buy houses without being forced to turn to exploitative loan sharks. 

Article // Why We Must Decolonise the Economy

In October 2019, Guppi wrote a FIRE article on why we must decolonise economics for the New Economics Foundation zine.

This is a crosspost, you can read the full zine here.


We are sold many myths about the economy which we accept as truths: that the economy is something objective, that only the experts can understand it, and that economic and social inequality are separate problems with separate causes. But when we look at the etymology of the word ‘economy’ this picture changes. ‘Eco’  means ‘home’ and ‘nomy’ means ‘management’. So ‘economy’ can simply be expressed as ‘the way that society (that’s you and I folks!) decides how to manage its resources’. 

As a racial justice activist, thinking about the economy in this way this tells me that: 

a) The economy is the result of political decisions created by those with social capital and power;

b) The economy is a driver of inequality that impacts marginalised communities in many ways, such as the £3.2 billion racial pay gap;

c) Political education is essential for any movement wanting to change the rules of the economy, and really attend to their roots through the solutions we build. 

These three lessons are the central message in workshops I deliver with my partner-in-crime, Nonhlanhla Makuyana, on Decolonising Economics. Because we are both absolute geeks, the work we enjoy the most is digging into our colonial pasts to create more meaningful stories for the facts and figures behind today’s interrelated inequalities. That’s what decolonising economics is about: it unearths the colonial roots of our current economic system, and interrogates the power systems at play within our economic and social policy ideas. A central building block of the neoliberal capitalist system that we live in today is white supremacy, its foundation laid by centuries of colonialism. 

Critical race scholar Frances Lee Ansley says that white supremacy is not only “the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups” but “a political, economic, and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily re-enacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.”  We have to understand how white supremacy and colonialism helped shape all parts of our economy: from wealth distribution, to financial instruments and the narratives we hold around marginalised communities. 

Looking back to move forwards

We find a starting point to unearth the roots of racial inequality in the economy  in the 19th century. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1833, the government pledged £20 million to reimburse slave owners for their loss of income. This bailout, known as the Slave Compensation Scheme, made up 40% of government expenditure in 1834, and enabled 46,000 individuals who profited from slave-owning to maintain their wealth, social status and political influence. The Slave Compensation Scheme was the second largest public bailout in British history (after the 2009 bank bailout) and was only paid off by the Treasury in 2018. 

Despite the huge compensation for slave owners, the British government has actively dismissed calls for reparations for those who were kidnapped, enslaved, indentured or continued to live in Britain without rights or freedoms. The white supremacist culture means that the concerns of people of colour are dismissed, which creates not only the  racial wealth gap, but other injustices like those impacting the Windrush Generation and residents of Grenfell Tower

Looking back to the colonial era again, the history of our European banking system, including our contemporary financial instruments, developed as a direct response to the expansion of plantations and the trading system that came with it. Financing this profit-driven system were some well known highstreet banks such as Lloyds and Barclays.  They underwrote the expeditions of the 16th and 17th Century which would bring back a ‘cargo’ of enslaved African people. Insurance ensured shareholders of private companies profited above all else, even human life. Even after slavery was made illegal, the system of insurance continued to peddle racial stereotypes, that meant even within the process of insurance provision, Black people were charged higher premiums. These racialised practices persist in today’s insurance industry. 

At the forefront of Britain’s colonial expansion were private, profit-making bodies like the Royal African Company and the East India Company who were often conferred by Royal Charter (a fancy way of saying that their violent practices were sanctioned by the British state). These companies heavily influenced the development of the financial systems around them in order to compete economically with their other European counterparts. Early capitalism was driven by the goal of accumulating wealth, and this logic flowed into the financial practices that developed from it such as speculation, shares, and derivatives.  The racist justifications for the capture of indigenous land and exploitation of Black and indigenous communities  were used to support actions which enabled these companies to flourish.  

During the financial crisis in 2008 and subsequent years of austerity, BAME communities continued to be the most impacted by  cuts to public spending.  Structural inequality today is rooted in colonial legacy, and across all social indicators people of colour show up worse than their white counterparts. The financial and insurance systems evolved out of colonial projects which exploited Black and indigenous people across the globe. Why would we assume that these systems would support people of colour today? 

Challenging all those norms 

Black feminist writer Adrienne Maree Brown says: “Colonialism stole our capacity to imagine a different future by determining our past for us” If the rules for how we programme the economy originated in systems and techniques that emerged during colonialism, this means we need to understand colonial history if we want to  rewrite the rules for a new economy that centres racial justice.

But decolonising economics must take us further than thinking about race alone.

The intersection of oppressed identies that are controlled in neoliberal capitalism are given a framework through what bell hooks calls ‘the capitalist white supremacist imperialist patriarchy’. Like many Black feminists before and after, she recognises how the entanglement of white, male, global north superiority, and the pursuit of individual property and profit, is a driver of multiple structural inequalities. 

During the development of capitalism, Europeans categorised all bodies according to whether they were the beneficiaries of or the tools for profit. This is how our society became laden with binaries, dividing people into Black or white, young or old, man or woman. Key to this was the belief that the only use for Black bodies was to be the engines of production under slavery, or to be imprisoned – but never free.  At the same time, participation in society was dictated by your capacity to contribute to the workforce – either with your own hands or through reproduction of the workforce through childbirth and rearing. As such, disabled people and LGBTQi+ folks were deemed either useless or immoral, which these communities struggle against to this day. 

If anything,  the colonial mindset has been strengthened by capitalism’s dominance as an economic ideology that is also fuelled by our far-right political environment. All of us, including those working to build a new economy, are influenced by the narratives we hear and the assumptions that lay beneath them.  We need to understand this in order to work to dismantle it. 

Getting strategy right

Like all good learning processes, my journey in decolonising has been non-linear, and has emerged through a constant questioning of my own position. Understanding how each of us uphold the colonial mindset by taking an unquestioned view of history is a huge task, let alone working as a collective to move beyond it. If we’re going to change some rules, let’s begin with the ones we’ve embedded in our own organising. We can do this work by ensuring social power and privilege isn’t seen as a separate and less immediate concern to single issue campaigns like climate change or corporate power. ‘Diversity and inclusion’ practices within NGOs need to become central to the design and delivery of our work. 

A practical way forward is to seek leadership from queer liberation, disability justice and racial equity movements and acknowledge their work. These movements hold the key to imagining a different way of being, through organising practices, narratives, strategies and envisioning a world where we are thriving. For example: the first credit union was started by Afro-Caribbean migrants in Britain in 1967. Solidarity economy practices emerged from landless farm workers in Latin America who collectively organised in the wake of the debt crisis and structural adjustment programmes to take ownership of factories and farms. Frontline communities should not be seen as ‘the most impacted’, but as people who are already changing the rules of the economy through their own creativity, commitment and need to survive. 

Decolonising economics will bring more depth and integrity to our work. By ensuring we have the right understanding of the history of our economy, we will know when we are moving towards one that is based on justice and equity. It requires us to look more deeply at the roots of the system, so that we know we’re undoing the injustices of the past as we begin to build the future. Decolonising is not about returning to a place where colonialism didn’t exist, it’s about respecting the histories of colonised people, and taking their leadership for a vision of a new economy. 


 The BBC’s “Racism; A history” provides hours of compelling background on this very subject.

Movement Generation have shown how we can completely flip the way we identify groups of people, and challenge where these constructs derive from, and how they have been developed to divide and minimise the social value we bring to the world.

Event // Joining Land in Our Names at Willowbrook Farm

In January 2020, we joined the inaugural BPOC caucus organised by Land in Our Names, Soulfire Farm and Willowbrook Farm for a magical day on the full moon in Oxfordshire.

For Noni and Guppi, this day was super special as it was the beginning of our commitment to each other in making Decolonising Economics a reality, and meeting Zahra, who supported us in accessing some seed funding to begin this journey together.

Our conversation with LION continued to inspire us in our strategy, dreaming about a reparations map that supports the transfer of wealth and resources to organised communities of colour. 

Read the full write-up on Land Workers’ Alliance’s website.

Feature image is from Soul Fire Farm, reposted on Land in our Names Instagram.