Time to Untether Philanthropy to Back Black-Led and Defined Work

June 11th, 2020  |  Source: NPQ

By Ruth McCambridge Editor

A few days ago, NPQ ran an article by Will Cordery entitled “Dear Philanthropy: These are the Fires of Anti-Black Racism.” In it, he writes: 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. And have the staying power to give Black activists and allies the space to develop effective organizing strategies to achieve lasting change. Understand that our specific programmatic interventions and strategies must serve a larger collective vision. Our struggle is mutual—and our liberation is mutual. Our collective liberation cannot fully be realized until Black people are free. When we take our focus off of addressing anti-Blackness, Black death continues to happen. Threats to Black life continue to happen. Amy Cooper continues to happen.

Black lives have always mattered. But, as Megan Ming Francis, the author of a paper entitled “The Price of Civil Rights: Black Lives, White Funding and Movement Capture,” noted in February of 2019, the problem is not simply a general lack of funding, but also the control white-led philanthropic organizations exert over that funding—and by extension, movements. Having studied the effects of the relationship of the NAACP to the now-long-defunct Garland Fund in the early 20th century, Francis concluded that the foundation’s influence had the effect of moving the organization’s priorities away from fighting mob violence against black people to educational equity.

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