Posted on June 02, 2020
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Ahmaud Arbery. We speak their names, honoring their humanity and mourning their untimely and unjust deaths.
To those who are hurting, who are raising your voices, and who are actively fighting back against oppression, we see and support you. Black Lives Matter. Today and every day. And Black people deserve more than what this country has historically given them.
Right now, I am feeling a multitude of emotions. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Devastation. Exhaustion. These names - these people whose lives were stolen - are but the latest in a long list of Black lives taken unjustly. It is a list going back as long as this country’s history, when Black and Indigenous people were dehumanized, their bodies considered capital as their labor was extracted and their families separated, all to build the country we live in today.
It is a list lengthened by the insidious systems of oppression, injustice, and racism that manifest time and time again into illness, poverty, lack of opportunity, and violence. It is a list that has seen the country through slavery and segregation, forced migration and redlining, the Trail of Tears, the Tulsa Massacre, and the school-to-prison pipeline.
This is America.
And while nothing we do can erase a single name from that list, we can and must honor their lives by working to destroy systematized racism and injustice. Below there are some things that you as philanthropic professionals can do. If ever there has been a time for philanthropy to wake up, it is now.
Posted on October 24, 2019
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I have always been an advocate for justice. As a nearly lifelong community organizer, I have spent years navigating through grassroots organizing spaces, institutions of higher education, traditional nonprofits, foundations, and multi-stakeholder collaborations. From a young age I was fortunate to be politicized by former Black Panthers, SNCC organizers, community activists, and young peers with whom I still share a deep connection.
Still, I can remember sitting in a church in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans in 2008, surrounded by dozens of community residents, organizers, advocates, and movement builders, and experiencing, for the first time, my privilege being challenged as a white-passing straight man. At that moment, I realized that even though both of my mother’s parents emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. as teenage orphans and my grandfather is from Acámbaro, Guanajuato and of indigenous descent, I have received the benefit of whiteness my entire life and through every stage of my career. From that point forward, my life became dedicated to dismantling systems of inequity.