Racial Equity Calling Cards

I’ll keep it simple because I am tired, angry, beleaguered, saddened, and currently numb to empty apologies because they’re meaningless without action.

There is no justification, no excuse, no reason for, nor rationale that explains away the continued state sanctioned killings of black people at the hands of authorities.

I have read hundreds of texts, calls, personal manifestos, and direct messages asking for tangible ways to shift the direction of our future away from what we see displayed across our screens today.

My answer to colleagues, friends, acquaintances and onlookers alike, is – determine how you can use your privilege and access to resources to further racial equity. While police and judicial reform is necessary in the immediate aftermath of everything we see protestors and communities demanding of our leaders, it is not enough.

We need dynamic racial equity implementation across the broader strokes of our society. That especially means in our individual roles as philanthropists we need to push harder, now. I believe we can do that in three distinct ways:

1.) Ask more questions – Organizations and people move in the direction of the questions being asked. Let’s ask questions of ourselves, our colleagues, our companies and community partners we work with and support. Consider using this pocket guide from the Associated Black Charities on the Ten Essential Questions for Philanthropic Grant-making, Policies and Procedures to give you a framework on ways to engage a racial equity lens in your grant-making.

2.) Find the point of integrity and move in that direction, always – As you continue to learn about social justice liberation movements you begin to understand that true racial equity demands that we deploy resources where they are needed most – employ that knowledge in your decision making on a daily basis. This recent article identifies how philanthropy has failed our goals of investing deeply into communities of color. If the current times tell us anything- we can do more to directly support communities of color especially Black communities who will deal with the aftermath of this pandemic and racial unrest for decades to come.

3.) Move from structural racism to structural equity – Over the past decade our knowledge of structural racism and implicit bias in decision making across all aspects of society is no longer hidden. We see it and we’ve begun collectively naming it amongst what we see and know to be true. As we continue to hold station and agency over the output and impact derived from our grant-making, we are called to eventually leave our roles and organizations better than we found them. We can do this by building policies, procedures, and stop gaps toward racial equity, thus building structural racial equity in our work. The racial equity “calling cards” we’ll leave behind should be explicit wherever they can be, and as we work towards that we can use learnings from Anand Giriharadas’ book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World to better understand the deep underpinnings of structural inequity built into our profession.

— Chabre Vickers