This week on Impact Everywhere, we hear from Danielle Da Silva, founder and CEO of Photographers Without Borders. Her insights on decolonization, the ethics of storytelling, and having transformative conversations take on new meaning given the current uprisings in the United States and around the world. As a half white, half Muslim Indian Central Asian activist, the story of Danielle’s activism is rooted in her mixed ancestry. She describes how growing up, her parents tried to erase their culture to fit into Canada. While she has benefited from white privilege, she has also faced discrimination. Danielle advocates for the importance of decolonization in activism and using her work to amplify the voices of those she is working with, rather than drowning them out. For the full episode, check out one of the links below:
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Key Lessons from this Episode
Addressing systemic issues involves systemic change
The activist desire to change the world comes from a colonial perspective. Activists are not the experts, so those in the community with lived experiences and their lives dedicated to making change should hold the reins.
Activists should listen and amplify the voices of those they are trying to help
The idea of ‘giving people a voice’ is problematic because it implies that they didn’t have one to begin with. Rather than being the main voice, activists should be making the voice of the people louder.
Photography and Storytelling need more diversity
Both of these mediums have long been dominated by straight white men. Making space for different perspectives can quite literally rewrite history and get rid of the power imbalance of whose perspectives are represented.
Hold true to a code of ethics
The ethics of who you are working with, how you present their stories, and more are extremely important to protect the voices of the stories you are amplifying. Photographers Without Borders offers training for photographers who want to be allies, as well as a mentorship program where mentors agree to train the community on how to use cameras and other equipment. Check out PWB’s code of ethics here.
When you’re not sure what to do, listen to the leaders
With the BLM movement happening right now, listen to the experts and take action on what they ask you to do every day. Sign the petitions. Call the governors. Being an ally means listening and giving space, not speaking and taking up space.
If you’re interested in seeing more of Danielle’s work, check her out here. For information on Photographers Without Borders, check out their site. And finally, if you’d like to register for their June 9 Allyship program, check out the PWB website here.
Links Mentioned in this Episode
Benjamin Von Wong
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva Work
Photographers Without Borders
June 9 PWB Allyship Program
Coming Up Next Week
Next week host Benjamin Von Wong will speak with Anya Marchenko, a researcher working at the Center for Effective Global Action. You’ll hear her insights on developmental economics and effective altruism that you can apply in your own life. Be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it.