Racial Capitalism Community of Practice

NFG’s Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) program is sponsoring a Racial Capitalism Community of Practice (CoP) open to funder members. Challenges for workers accelerated over the past year due to several crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, the crippling racial and gender gaps in wealth, income, and political influence, rising fascism and white nationalism, and deteriorating workplace conditions, wages, and benefits. In response, community members and workers have been increasingly organizing, demonstrating, and striking for basic protections and real solutions to bring relief in the shorter term, and a just recovery in the longer term. They are calling for a new vision for justice and safety free from police violence and sexual violence, toward a vision that creates economic security and promotes physical, mental and environmental health. 

Through this CoP, funder participants will explore how we can deepen our grantmaking efforts to advance justice, incorporate anti-racist practices in philanthropy, and partner with movement leaders in the creation of an inclusive economy.  

What is Racial Capitalism?

The term racial capitalism is a concept originally proposed by Cedric J. Robinson to describe the extractive way America’s capitalist economy derives social and economic value from another person of a different racial identity. The basic tenets of racial capitalism are:

  • Capitalism is defined as an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry is controlled and owned by private individuals and corporations for profit;
  • Capitalism measures success based on a company’s ability to continually generate and increase their rate of profitability, constantly extracting maximum value for owners;
  • To sustain and increase the rate of capital growth and extract maximum value/profit for owners, capitalism must establish and exploit the idea of unequal human value to reduce costs; and
  • The predominant differentiator of human value in many countries, including the United States, was and is race and ethnicity.   

Why Racial Capitalism?

Since 2015, NFG’s Funders for a Just Economy program has explored how to deepen its impact on the particular challenges BIPOC workers face. FJE supported reports and funder learning opportunities which discussed how fees, fines, criminalization associated with day laborer and migrant labor, rampant wage theft, little or paid family leave, lack of labor law enforcement or litigation from states and local governments, and workplace sexual violence and harassment remains persistent in jobs and industries with a higher representation of workers and women of color. To begin to address these systemic challenges, FJE published a working paper Journey Towards Intersectional Grantmaking in 2018, which helped develop a framework and definition of intersectional grantmaking, which is: grantmaking that takes into consideration the ways in which multiple systems of oppression are interwoven in people’s lives, communities, cultures, and institutions and how they impact people differently based on where each person sits and their lived experience. Considering that philanthropy historically and currently is a contributor to the deeply embedded and extractive tenets of racial capitalism, over the last two years FJE has been building its analysis of racial capitalism and power by learning about Black radical tradition and feminist theory. 

Through the Racial Capitalism Community of Practice, we aim to put this political education and the vision of movement leaders in action. Racial Capitalism Community of Practice participants will develop their skills as funder organizers who are shifting philanthropic culture, grantmaking strategies and practices, and moving more resources toward movement efforts to build an economy that works for all.

Community of Practice Participants 

  • The target audience is funders with an interest in and commitment to increasing their awareness and practice of anti-racism in solidarity with communities of color.
  • FJE encourages teams of 2 individuals from each organization to sign up and attend together. Past experience suggests colleagues from different teams and with different levels of positional authority participating together can lead to the greatest organizational benefits.
  • We ask that you commit to participating in all of the sessions (see dates below). The Racial Capitalism CoP is designed for collective learning and meaning making. Your full participation in all the sessions and in the between-session exercises is key for a high-quality learning experience for you and your peers. 
  • To contribute to the costs of this program and partnership with ReWork the Bay, Liberation in a Generation and Christina Garcia Consulting, FJE is requesting a $5,000 registration fee per foundation participating in the cohort.

Community of Practice Goals 

Our hope is that through this journey, participating funders will be able to take new steps forward in advancing an inclusive economy as a remedy to racial capitalism. Specifically, funders will:

  1. Reflect on racial capitalism, how it impacts and shows up in their grantmaking, with grantees, and in the community.
  2. Identify and utilize common language and definitions for racial capitalism.
  3. Recognize why and how racial capitalism matters in advancing toward an inclusive economy.
  4. Point to policies and systems within the workforce, job quality, social protections, and economic development systems that marginalize people of color and perpetuate economic inequity. 
  5. Select a right-sized project or activity in your work that you can use to integrate your learning and begin to decrease the extractive practices of racial capitalism in philanthropy. 

Community of Practice Approach

  • The CoP facilitators will welcome each funder team in individual dialogues in order to understand your interests, experience, and starting place to inform the CoP design and pace.
  • Each participant (or funder team) will complete an assessment and identify a specific project to work on in 2022 to apply and practice what is learned.
  • Six 3-hour virtual CoP sessions that will include guest speakers, full group discussions, small group work, and peer coaching.
  • Project work between CoP sessions to integrate learning during the CoP and moving forward.

Community of Practice Session Schedule

  • November 10, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm PT
  • December 9, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm PT
  • January 19, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm PT
  • March 2, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm PT
  • April 13, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm PT
  • June 8, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm PT

To learn more about joining the Racial Capitalism Community of Practice, please contact Manisha Vaze, Director of Funders for a Just Economy, at manisha@nfg.org.