The Green Party has defended a decision to appoint a white person to head its group to advance the rights of Black, Asian and minority ethnic members.
The party faced a backlash earlier this week when AC Baker was announced as co-secretary of Greens of Colour.
Greens of Colour chair Azzees Minott told HuffPost UK that the committee is a group of about 20 or so people of colour, “including some allies”, working to tackle racism.
“Greens of Colour is a newly relaunched liberation group that supports and amplifies the voices and experiences of African, Caribbean, Asian, Latine, Arab, Indigenous, Gypsy and Traveller communities, and marginalised ethnic groups,” she said.
“Last year following the rise of the global anti-racism movement many people within the Green Party, who I and others acknowledge is not as diverse as it should be, reached out to the Greens of Colour to find out what more they could do to support the anti-racism movement which was great because the work to achieve racial justice is not just for people of colour to burden alone.
“I hear and understand the concerns raised by some members about allies however, there’s been a lot of confusion about the role of allies on the committee and their perceived leadership position.”
Following news of Baker’s appointment to the role, some people voiced their discontent on Twitter. They claimed that a non-white person should’ve been appointed to this role, given that the group is for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
These concerns are exacerbated by an ongoing concern about the lack of non-white representation in leadership positions across politics more broadly – including within the Green Party – and concerns of racism within the Green Party itself.
Tweeting the Greens of Colour account, one person said: “it’s not inherently bad for anti-racist/decolonial groups to include white people, in fact some of the most effective ones are open to everyone! but if you’re supposed to be a literal MEMBERSHIP BODY which acts as a safe-space for poc, what the hell are you doing?”
Another wrote: “The clue is very much in the name? And the description ‘We are the POC & BAME group within the Green Party’? And if they got white people isn’t it then just the same as the rest of the Green party? Unless they’re implying the rest of the party is racist? And I’m just confused.”
Someone else posted: “It’s not that you shouldn’t work with white people (lol at no point did anyone suggest such a thing) but GoC is ‘the PoC & BAME group within the Green Party’ (your words). If that’s what you are, then that’s what your staff should reflect. How many PoC are high up in the party?”
Minott said: “Any ally working with the Greens of Colour committee is there to support our work, relieve pressure off of committee members, help us deliver our goals, and share their perspective to other white people within the party about how to be a better ally.
“I want to be clear that Greens of Colour is and will always be a safe space for people of colour to join and be within the Green Party.”
Greens of Colour is a subgroup within the Green Party. It aims to “advance the rights of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities in the UK, including those who identify as People of Colour”, according the organisation’s website.
The group aims to raise awareness about issues facing non-white people in the Green Party and across society.
The committee is comprised of unpaid volunteers who are voted into their positions by peers. White members of Green of Colour often abstain from voting on points relating to people of colour, according to Ria Patel, GoC’s external relations officer.
“As a white person, my role is to support Greens of Colour to achieve their vision, and become the most prominent Liberation Group for all Black People, People of Colour in politics in England and Wales,” Baker said of their new role.
They take the role alongside Carmen Legarda, who is of Spanish-Filipino heritage.