Grant Makers Should Seize the Moment to Seek Racial Justice Solutions
by Shireen Zaman, Director, Proteus Fund's Security & Rights Collborative and Laila Mehta, Former Director, Asian Amiercans and Pacific Islands in Philanthropy Civic Engagement Fund
This post originally appeared as a "Letter to the Editor" in the September 21 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy
To the Editor:
The Chronicle’s article "After Ferguson, Grant Makers Are Seeking Fresh Solutions to Racial-Justice Problems" (September 11) clearly expresses the need for funders to address underlying causes of racial tensions in this country. In addition to the recent deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, violence and profiling motivated by racism and fear are also affecting America’s Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian communities.
As grant makers who serve those minority communities, we believe this is a key moment for philanthropists to join forces across traditional racial-justice and civil-rights silos. We must bridge our internal portfolio divides to support the community-rooted efforts that are leading the charge.
The systems that perpetuate the profiling and surveillance of targeted communities throughout the U.S. are interconnected and undergirded by sanctioned discriminatory attitudes and policies. While patterns of bias and discrimination have cycled through U.S. history, today the stakes are higher than ever. Powerful economic forces see gains from militarization here and abroad, from building walls and prisons and distributing drone and surveillance technology.