To our Black colleagues, clients, and friends: Your life, your breath, your leadership, your voice, your dreams, and your resistance matter greatly. We’re sending you hope for healing, love, and power. We are here, ready to serve you, and laboring to fight white supremacy in our sector and in ourselves. As a white-led organization, we commit to unlearning white supremacy practices, adopting anti-racist behaviors, fostering a culture of belonging for Black staff members and other staff of color, and building our muscle to center racial equity in our work with clients.
To our non-Black colleagues, clients, and friends: We mourn and honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton, Dominique Rem’mie Fells, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We all must act with urgency to examine and fight anti-Blackness in our sector, our organizations, and ourselves; to fund Black-led movements and organizations; to share decision-making power with Black people closest to the issues; and to fight for Black liberation.
Black leaders across the social sector have shared powerful reflections on their experience in the sector as well as advice for non-Black colleagues. We are deeply grateful to them and call on non-Black colleagues to join us in listening to them, following their leadership, and reflecting on how white supremacy shows up in our organizations and our work.
Jarrett Lucas, Stonewall Community Foundation: “Black Pain. Black Power.”
“Black leadership matters not only because Black lives matter, but also because Black leadership is itself a triumph. An undoing. An overcoming. A unique alchemy, turning pain into power. Black leadership moves us closer to solutions. At Stonewall, we embrace philanthropy as a way to fuel those solutions. Likewise, we embrace philanthropy as love in action. We believe that if you love Black people, then you show it.”
Dax-Devlon Ross, Third Settlements: “A Letter to My White Male Friends of a Certain Age”
“What I ask of you is that you don’t turn away from the pain you are witnessing in this moment. Don’t bury yourself in work or how the markets are doing. Don’t tell yourself there are more important things or issues that the country needs to deal with. Look at what is happening for what it is—people who are tired of being abused in every way imaginable by whiteness, white people and white supremacist ideology and institutions in this society—boiling with rage.”
George A. Jones, Bread for the City: “Finding My Voice Despite the Pain”
“I want justice for George Floyd who was murdered by the knees of Derek Chauvin in his neck, but just as much I want racial, social, and economic justice for all Black Americans who, for over 400 years, have century after century lived lives with the foot of racial oppression at the base of their necks. And, that racial and economic justice needs to start right here in Washington, DC, and begin with the DC government removing its foot of oppression from the necks of its Black and brown residents.”
Lateefah Simon, Akonadi Foundation: “Philanthropy Must Be a Righteous Accomplice Against Anti-Blackness and White Supremacy”
“As we add to the chorus of voices rising up in this moment to support justice and liberation, we must also confront the anti-Blackness within our own walls – and commit to doing better. The decline of support for Black organizations and of the disrespect of Black leadership within our nation’s movement for justice can no longer be tolerated. It’s time for philanthropy to center and follow the lead of Black organizers, invest in Black-led solutions and brilliance, and deeply support Black-led movements.”
Will Cordery, Leverage Philanthropic Partners: “Dear Philanthropy: These Are the Fires of Anti-Black Racism”
“My call to philanthropy: fund racial justice. Fund the hell out of it. Fund racial justice work that centers organizing and power-building to counter anti-Blackness. Fund racial justice work that centers the lived experiences, leadership, and communities of Black people. Fund spaces that foster a radical imagination and the creation of new ways of being that could potentially replace centuries of systemic and structural racist practices in our society.”
Itzbeth Menjívar, BridgePeople: “The Social Justice Sector Has an Internal Racism Problem”
“The voices of black women must not only be heard, they must be centered and amplified. It is very possible that our personal experiences with poverty, discrimination, and injustice will provide the needed proximity to the very problems that nonprofits are trying to solve.”
Adiyah Ali, LISC: “To Be Truly Anti-Racist, Community Development Needs a Reckoning”
“Structural and systemic racism is killing us. It is a public health crisis. In light of this, community development is facing an existential calamity: if we do not address racism with the same fervor that we’ve put towards helping our communities respond to Covid-19, then our efforts to catalyze opportunity for all will be for naught.”
Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull