Over the last several days, we have all received hundreds of statements expressing anger and anguish over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery; the disproportionate loss of Black, Indigenous, People of Color lives and livelihoods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the systemic racism that laid the foundation for these losses. We are overwhelmed with pain, outrage and deep uncertainty about the future. And in a sector that is primarily white, we pause to acknowledge that this pain is materially different for our colleagues of color, especially our Black colleagues, in philanthropy.
The racial equity work Philanthropy New York has undertaken to deepen our learning, embed racial analysis into PNY programming and shape how we work as a community has been far from perfect. Our missteps are numerous. But Tema Okun reminds us that the antidote to perfectionism is learning. And so as we continually practice and deepen our value of equity, we lean into another PNY value - learning.
Learning means listening without defensiveness. It means openly examining our missteps and making a commitment to do better. It means that on our journey to create a more racially equitable, democratic and sustainable society, we must commit to the disruption and discomfort required for change. Without that discomfort, our eloquent and passionate statements are just words. And it is our actions, not words, that will define what happens next.
In our efforts to push for the change needed to create an equitable, democratic and sustainable society for all, PNY commits and recommits to the following:
- We will exercise our influence as an agent of change to dismantle systems of oppression within philanthropic organizations and philanthropic practice.
- We will listen to and be guided by the wisdom of those who have been offering us their expertise around equitable practices for years.
- We will hold ourselves accountable for our own learning and transformation, both organizationally and individually.
The Wisdom of our Community
So many in our community have shared wisdom, reflections and specific sets of action for philanthropy. Here are just a few:
- Dear Philanthropy: These are the Fires of Anti-Black Racism by Will Cordery
- Authoritarian State or Inclusive Democracy? 21 Things We Can Do Right Now by Eric Ward
- The Power of Breath by Donita Volkwijn
- COVID-19 Reflections, An Accountability Call to White People by Diana Noriega
- Philanthropists Bench Women of Color, the M.V.P’s of Social Change by Vanessa Daniels
- Funding in the Time of COVID-19: Questions to Deepen Racial Equity by Michele Kumi Baer
Roadmaps for the Journey Ahead
Thousands of resources exist to support and move individuals and organizations wherever we all are on our racial equity journey. We must be ready to absorb and re-absorb this work to take action using solutions that have been offered to the field.
Here are just a few that offer guidance on internal organization equity practices and grantmaking frameworks:
- ABFE and the Hill-Snowdon Foundation’s A Case for Funding Black Led Social Change and the newly released Redlining by Another Name: What the Data Says to Move from Rhetoric to Action
- The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity’s Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens.
- Equity in the Center’s Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture
- Nonprofit AF’s Have Nonprofit and Philanthropy become the “white moderate” that Dr. King warned us about?
- Vox’s How “movement capture” shaped the fight for civil rights
Let this be a pivotal moment for our country and our sector. Philanthropy can be a partner in dismantling systemic racism if we commit our actions and resources to our words. And we, at Philanthropy New York, are committed to supporting each of our members on this path.