Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Stacy Abrams and Julian Castro, in Yesterday's Chronicle of Philanthropy:
. . .
Nonprofits Are Vulnerable
The legal and political landscape to defend and protect diversity and inclusion is fraught and uncertain. It’s clear that any organization fighting for equity and justice risks being targeted. Nonprofits are especially vulnerable. In addition to our own extensive work in the social sector, we both currently serve on the Board of Trustees for the Marguerite Casey Foundation. We know first-hand, the impact that philanthropy has on grassroots movements. At a time when right wing philanthropy is pouring money into organizations hell-bent on destroying our most basic rights, progressive and mainstream donors must do more than hold the line.
Instead, they must counter these attacks with renewed vigor and increased resources. The field should not give in to the manufactured legal crisis by relenting on demands for racial equity. Litigators are taking advantage of the affirmative-action ruling by suing those of goodwill into complacency. They have not won a single lawsuit, but the mere specter of action has paralyzed or reversed years of positive momentum. The tasks for philanthropy are clear. First, philanthropy must immediately halt its recent great retrenchment on racial-justice funding. Since 2022, too many companies and philanthropic institutions that asserted with one voice that “Black Lives Matter” and pledged support for the racial-justice movement have slashed resources and cowered in response to negative headlines attacking “woke” philanthropy. This about-face only makes the work of the detractors easier.
The attacks on racial-equity efforts will work if too many of our colleagues respond tepidly or retreat. We should follow the lead of the Fearless Fund, which is aggressively fighting a lawsuit that would have prevented the organization from directing its funding to start-up businesses owned by Black women. Second, we implore foundations not to remove language signaling a commitment to racial justice or specific communities of color from their websites, grant applications, and grant programming. The targeted affirmative-action decision applied solely to admissions to colleges and universities that receive federal funding — not to foundations, grant makers, or corporations investing in racial-justice work. This is a tried-and-true tactic: fearmongering versus fact-finding.
. . .
darryll k. jones