My friend and social strategist, Beth Zemsky, would call this a “movement moment.” We’re living in a time when activists and community leaders are working tirelessly to rise up in resistance to the violence that so many in our communities face on a daily basis.
This isn’t to say there wasn’t important work happening before or that the tragic losses of Mike Brown or Eric Garner are somehow a new occurrence. As a country, our entire history is entangled with a legacy of violence against black and brown bodies.
What’s powerful about this particular moment is that community leaders, many of them young people, are keeping the conversation alive through direct action and social media. Activists are using a mix of tried and true organizing strategies coupled with the power of new media and fueled by an energy that demands this not be just another trending hashtag.
In philanthropy we are in a unique position with the ability to step in as movements go to scale, and this isn’t the first time in U.S. history that funders have stood at this crossroads. In June, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy issued a piece chronicling how funders did (and didn’t) show up during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
The number of Minnesota grantmakers concerned with closing racial achievement gaps, ending disparities and advancing racial equity is growing. Everyday, and especially in a moment like this, it’s important to remember our actions do matter.
Many of us are asking about “the right way” to show up. I hope these tools will provide answers and help maintain hope.
Tools and ideas for philanthropists to consider:
- Understand the role of allies: There are many resources on what allies can do to show up. The Root offers this list specifically for white allies.
- Know the history behind #BlackLivesMatter: Here, Alicia Garza provides this great back story on the hashtag and associated actions.
- Use national resources:
- Leverage local resources:
- Join MCF’s My Brother’s Keeper table: Minnesota grantmakers inspired by President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative are aligning strategy around achievement for men and boys of color. If you’d like to join the table, let me know.
As you grapple with questions about your role and how to best support emerging work, please use MCF as a resource. We’re available to discuss your ideas, provide additional resources and act as a sounding board.
- Alfonso Wenker, MCF manager of diversity, equity and inclusion
Image: CC PictureNewYork LG