Thank you to those who participated in the GCRI Community Empowerment session last week. As I mentioned at the beginning of the session, the last year (and the last few days) have highlighted not only the devastating impact of racism on our communities and on people of color around the country, but also the imperative for philanthropy to deepen its work in understanding and addressing issues of racial equity and racial justice in our communities.
Part of that work is to acknowledge the complexity, pervasiveness, and intersectionality of this work — to intentionally listen to the voices of individuals and communities who have experienced current and historical racism, and to support their leadership in addressing the root causes and symptoms.
To that end, I would encourage you all to listen to the session, and to support local initiatives to ensure that under-represented groups in Rhode Island, like communities of color, people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, etc. have the resources they need to mobilize and play a leadership role in efforts to address the challenges facing their communities. Historically, philanthropy has assumed that funders are better able to determine solutions than communities themselves, but now more than ever, it is critical that philanthropy recognize the necessity of resourcing and learning from community leaders. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the link to listen to the session.)
Supporting Our Asian American Colleagues and Communities
This week’s violence in Atlanta, where 6 of 8 of the victims were Asian American women, is only the latest in an increasing number of racist attacks in the US. The STOP AAPI Hate project has documented over 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian racism over the last year, many targeted at women and seniors. The language used by law enforcement in Atlanta, and the rhetoric used by some members of Congress in the hearing on Asian American violence, has exacerbated the pain felt by our Asian American colleagues and other people of color. To our colleagues of color, please know that GCRI stands with you and your families and communities — we hold you close in this time of pain, fear and isolation.
As the racial justice protests over the last year have demonstrated, this is a pivotal moment for our country, and for philanthropy, to address the pervasive legacy — and current reality — of racism in the U.S. We need to stand with all of those who have experienced the trauma of racism (and misogyny and other types of discrimination and violence) and to speak out against language and actions that stigmatize, demonize, or harm our friends, colleagues, neighbors or communities. Our words matter. And they need to be followed up with action.
As my colleagues Patricia Eng, CEO of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Erik Stegman, Executive Director of Native Americans in Philanthropy, write in the Chronicle of Philanthropy
, “It is time for philanthropy to do a lot more to curb the rising violence and hatred by using the power of its voice and its grant dollars…Although recent events have been incredibly painful, we hope the philanthropic sector will take this opportunity to stand up by investing in — and valuing — the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. A truly inclusive democracy demands that we meaningfully support these rich and diverse cultures, especially when some seek violence against them. As advocates for Native Americans and Asian Americans, we know too well what it’s like to be excluded and disregarded in philanthropy. This is a moment for the sector to act and stand with our communities.”
GCRI will continue to offer racial equity programming for all of its members, but we also encourage you to join the GCRI Racial Equity Catalyst Group
, which will be offering opportunities to go deeper in your professional and personal roles as an ally, advocate, and funder. If you are interested in participating, please fill out this survey so we can get your scheduling and content preferences. Survey
On March 26 at noon, United Way of Rhode Island will be hosting From Challenge to Change, A Community First Conversation
, a discussion about advancing racial equity in Rhode Island. This conversation will feature community leaders from United Way, Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), the Latino Policy Institute, and the Equity Institute.
Other Resources in Learning About and Responding to Asian American Racism
Supporting Asian Americans in Georgia
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta has been working closely with AAPI community leaders and impacted folks in Georgia to learn what care is needed on the ground. If you would like to support them in providing community care, you can consider taking part in the action steps below and following their social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for updates on needs.
Three ways to support the Asian American community in Georgia:
Stop AAPI Hate
Thank you for your commitment to creating a more just and equitable Ocean State, where every Rhode Islander can thrive. That work is more critical than ever.