Statement from Center Social Inclusion

We at Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) are deeply disappointed by the grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown.

We remember that at the center of this tragedy is an 18 year old young man, Mike Brown, and the tremendous loss his family will endure for the rest of their lives.  We look to the residents of Ferguson, particularly young people, who peacefully took to the streets and organized every day to tell the world about Mike Brown, to proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter, and to demand justice.

Yesterday, justice was not served.  The criminal justice system failed to indict Officer Wilson, while the system succeeded in indicting Mike Brown.

For this, we must continue to demand justice and mobilize. We should support a federal investigation in Ferguson.

Within the criminal justice system, we must continue to challenge individual and institutional racial bias. Already, organizers and advocates are working to transform this system, organizing to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, demand greater transparency and accountability of police departments, or to decrease “shooter bias” in police officers.  We need to support this work.

Yet, working on biases and institutional practices alone is not enough. We must overhaul the policies that shape our communities as whole.

Ferguson became Ferguson.  Ferguson, which is majority Black, is also one of the poorest suburbs located in one of the most unequal regions in the United States.  This did not happen naturally.  Policies, both past and present, created and maintained these conditions.  For example, housing policies dating back to the early 20th century, from zoning to restrictive covenants drove segregation in St. Louis County, where Ferguson sits.  Because housing was segregated, schools became segregated as well.  And with segregation came disinvestment, resulting in under-resourced, underserved, predominantly Black communities living in a town like Ferguson.  This is how structural racial inequity operates.

Instead of seeing how decades of disinvestment created towns like Ferguson, we all too often blame a “culture of poverty” for those conditions, priming us to broadly paint people of color, particularly Black people, as less innocent, suspicious and more criminal.  This, in turn, leads to more policing and helps explain the disproportionate force police use on people of color compared to White people.

This is the racialized cycle of poverty and criminalization that is fertile ground for tragedies like the murder of Mike Brown.  

Ferguson is not unique.  As President Obama said, “We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson. This is an issue for America.”   As we’re focused on justice for Mike Brown, we also remember Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Trayvon Martin, Tanesha Anderson, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, and many more.  We need to support community-based organizing that brings change from the ground-up – from policing to housing to education to transportation to food.  We look to young people of color who are already creating networks of organizing to resist and dismantle the structural racial inequity in their neighborhoods.

We should also think about how local governments can begin to redress decades of inequity.  In Ferguson, the city council established a police review board which is a good first step.  The council also took steps to lessen or remove court fines that have disproportionately impacted people of color (and added to the city’s coffers).  These are the building blocks towards structural transformation that will benefit us all.

We need to bridge all of these strategies so that we can chip away at the structural arrangements that deny the basic humanity to people of color and fuel tragedies like death of Mike Brown at the hands of a police officer.

We are not well. Ferguson is a weather vane that tells us we have a long distance to travel between our national rhetoric and our national reality.

We can build a better future for all us.  It requires all of us.

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October 24, 2019

Reflections from Philanthropy Forward's First Cohort

Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change is a CEO fellowship program created by Neighborhood Funders Group and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The program's first cohort started in October 2018 in furtherance of building and advancing a shared vision for the future of philanthropy.

Hear perspectives from members of the first cohort as they reflect in this video on their work together as strategic thought partners, addressing philanthropy's most challenging issues and aligning to build a financial engine for social change.

2018 - 2019 Philanthropy Forward Cohort

A grid with individual photos of each of the 20 members of Philanthropy Forward's 2018-2918 cohort..

Click here for participant bios

  • Dimple Abichandani, General Service Foundation
  • Sharon Alpert, Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, Solidago Foundation
  • Ned Calonge, The Colorado Trust
  • Irene Cooper-Basch, Victoria Foundation
  • Farhad A. Ebrahimi, The Chorus Foundation
  • Nicky Goren, Meyer Foundation
  • Justin Maxson, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Joan Minieri, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
  • Maria Mottola, New York Foundation
  • Mike Pratt, Scherman Foundation
  • Jocelyn Sargent, Hyams Foundation
  • Pamela Shifman, NoVo Foundation
  • Starsky D. Wilson, Deaconess Foundation
  • Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community solutions
  • Dennis Quirin, Raikes Foundation
September 10, 2019

For Love of Humankind: A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Justin Maxson, Executive Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, calls on fellow funding organizations based in the South to respond to the federal government's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies with three concrete actions. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Justin was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, which strives to help people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice, is a member of NFG.


 

Justin MaxsonWe are issuing a clarion call to Southern philanthropic organizations to respond to the manic drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric and cruelty coming from the White House. This month began with a mass shooting targeting the Latinx community. Days later, massive raids tore apart hundreds of families and destabilized Mississippi communities but levied no consequences for the corporate leadership that lures vulnerable people to work in grueling, dangerous conditions. It is astounding that since those events, with the resulting fear and trauma still reverberating through immigrant communities across America, the administration has: 

  • repeated its intention to end birthright citizenship, a 14th Amendment guarantee that babies born on American soil are citizens. 
  • attempted to terminate the Flores Agreement, which sets standards for the care of children in custody. This would allow the administration to detain migrant families indefinitely in facilities where children are dying of influenza, yet flu shots are not administrated, where children are sexually assaulted, where soap, toothbrushes, human contact and play are not standard, and where breastfeeding babies are taken from their mothers. Child separation is known to cause permanent psychological trauma and brain damage.
  • announced changes to the so-called “public charge rule” to make it harder for legal immigrants to secure citizenship if they use public assistance. As our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argue, this change would cause many to “forgo assistance altogether, resulting in more economic insecurity and hardship, with long-term negative consequences, particularly for children.” Further, the decision “rests on the erroneous assumption that immigrants currently of modest means are harmful to our nation and our economy, devaluing their work and contributions and discounting the upward mobility immigrant families demonstrate.”

There was also a recent effort to effectively end asylum altogether at the southern border. And despite the Supreme Court ruling blocking the citizenship question from the 2020 census, advocates believe the debate will depress response rates. As we wrote earlier this month, this administration’s animus against immigrants and increasingly aggressive ICE actions are compounding the devastating effects on communities across the country. 

Why Southern philanthropy? 

An analysis of recent grantmaking by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found our region has deportation rates five times higher than the rest of the country, yet Southern pro-immigrant organizations receive paltry philanthropic funding. Barely one percent of all money granted by the 1,000 largest foundations benefits immigrants and refugees, and even that money doesn’t go to state and local groups that are accountable to grassroots and immigrant communities. Organizations in Southern states receive less than half of the state and local funding of California, New York and Illinois. 

Where to begin? 

Speak up. As Desmund Tutu taught us, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Use your institutional voice to influence decisionmakers.

Examine your foundation’s policies. Find out if your endowment is invested in private detention centers. Consider how supporting organizing, power building and policy advocacy could advance your mission. NCRP has more recommendations in its report.

Give generously. Our partners at Hispanics in Philanthropy have curated a list of organizations helping the families affected by the raids across Mississippi. Our partners at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees have compiled a list of ways to help, from rapid response grants to long-term strategies. 

Many of the Babcock Foundation’s grantee partners are doing more and more immediate protection work, stretching themselves thin and often putting themselves at risk. They are keeping families intact in the short term while building power for the long term, so history will stop repeating: 

If you know of more resources, please share them. If you’d like to learn more about the organizations on the ground across the South – or think about ways we can do more together – contact us. We are always looking to learn and act in alignment with our fellow funders toward a shared vision of a strong, safe, welcoming and equitable region. 

Activist Jane Addams said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us.” Regardless of a foundation’s mission, abject cruelty surely undermines it. It also undermines the most basic tenet of philanthropy, which literally means “love for humankind.” We see no love in this administration. It’s up to all of us to spread it.