Updates on Ferguson, Cleveland, and NYC

By Lorraine Ramirez, Program Manager, Neighborhood Funders Group, November 25, 2014.

As you know, last night it was announced that the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown. Like many of you, we are saddened and angry, but unfortunately not surprised, given the long time crisis level of police violence against communities of color, low-income communities, LGBTQ communities, and others across the country. NFG is committed to continuing this conversation and movement against systemic racism, in close partnership with our sister affinity organizations, organizers in the field, and all of you. The role of philanthropy as committed partners remains critical, as we all understand the need to build just and vibrant cities, and inclusive democracies. If you would like to become connected with NFG members talking about organizing in Ferguson and beyond, please write to us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org.

For information about current protests, calls for action, and demands for justice at the federal level, visit FergusonAction.org, and http://FergusonResponse.tumblr.com/. Also issued today were The Results are In: An Open Letter from Protestors on the Grand Jury Decision, and Letter to President Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder, a petition generated by ColorOfChange.org immediately following the grand jury verdict, and a statement from Center Social inclusion on Ferguson and the racialized cycles of poverty and criminalization. These are just a few of the many statements and opportunities for action; if you have any to recommend that NFG posts on our resource page, please write to us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org.

Last week, in anticipation of the grand jury verdict, Ferguson Governor Jay Nixon preemptively declared a state of emergency. That decision, as well as information leaks over the past few weeks, had caused the widespread expectation that the grand jury would not deliver an indictment. Several public statements were issued from national partners, including Statements to President Obama & Governor Nixon Prior to the Ferguson Grand Jury Verdict, from Muslim Advocates and fellow civil rights organizations.

For more resources for funders, visit NFG’s resource page, as well as the websites of our partners, including ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, and the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity. For tools and framework on community policing, visit PolicyLink’s resource online.

We also offer these updates from Ohio and New York:

Ohio

Since John Crawford was gunned down inside a Walmart on August 5, young people led by Black youth in the Ohio Student Association have been demanding justice and organizing to fundamentally shift the relationship of power between law enforcement and our communities. The murders of Tanesha Anderson and especially 12 year old Tamir Rice continue to demonstrate the savagery and racism of police in Ohio, and we will continue to target law enforcement from local police all the way up to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine demanding the justice we as black people in Ohio deserve. As we move forward we are developing two parallel strategies: (1) regular, disruptive non violent actions to declare that we will never forget and never stop demanding the justice we deserve, and (2) coalition building to wield power with organizations and institutions across the state and nation to move policy at the local, state, and federal level that strikes at the root of police brutality and mass incarceration. Working with our partners in the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and across the nation through the Freedom Side, we are positioned to build power and develop the leadership of black and brown youth in Ohio while pushing the movement forward with bold and visionary organizing. However we have not raised the resources we need to grow or even maintain our capacity in 2015, and will need to find new streams of revenue to support the work through 2016 and beyond.

www.ohiostudentassociation.org

Twitter/IG: @OHIOstudents

www.freedomside.org

www.ohorganizing.org

James Hayes 614.216.4548 jamesh@ohorganizing.org


New York City

While the movement for police accountability and an end to systemic racism in NYC grows in power in New York, the police violence against New Yorkers also continues. Most recently, Akai Gurley was shot and killed in the Luis H. Pink Houses in East New York, yet another police assault on residents of public housing. The NAACP held a candlelight vigil for Gurley on Nov 25th; a statement from the Justice Committee on the killing of Gurley and assault on Donovan is available here. Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and its member/ally organizations continue organizing for police accountability, calling for NYPD & criminal justice accountability in recent and past cases of excessive or deadly force. This includes Akai Gurley, Donovan Lawson, Eric Garner (the Staten Island resident killed in a chokehold by police this summer), and Ramarley Graham. CPR  has put developed a number of concrete mechanisms for police accountability, as part of a movement for racial justice; these include local and statewide legislation like the Right to Know Act and the Community Safety Act, and community organizing strategies that include tactics like cop watch and training NYers on their rights. CPR also issue a statement today: After Ferguson Grand Jury Failure, Federal Government Must Act for Justice.

Contact: Joo-Hyun Kang  jkang@changethenypd.org

Find More By:

News type: 
September 3, 2019

Capitalism and Racism: Conjoined Twins

By Marjona Jones, Co-Chair of Funders for a Just Economy and Senior Program Officer at Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

Marjona Jones speaking at a podium.

A few weeks ago, Democracy Now! aired a segment with Ibram X. Kendi, author and founding director of the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at American University, where he discussed white supremacy, anti-racism, and the increase in mass shootings. What struck me about the segment was his illuminating statement about the origins of capitalism. Kendi views capitalism and racism as "conjoined twins" and that “…the origins of racism cannot be separated from the origins of capitalism… the life of capitalism cannot be separated from the life of racism.”

Kendi continued by discussing how the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade allowed for the massive accumulation of wealth in Europe and the Americas. Centuries of wage theft, trading in human bondage, insurance claims on "lost" cargo, and reparations for slave owners after emancipation entrenched this capitalist system with inequities based on race built into it. Slave owners protected their concentrated wealth by shaping our socio-economic and legal systems to benefit themselves and the industry of slavery, as well as limit democracy.

As I celebrate the worker movement’s victories on Labor Day this year, this segment and past conversations with grantees has triggered an important question for me: What does the notion that capitalism and racism are inextricably linked mean for our work as funders of racial and economic justice? Our grantee partners tell us how workers are implicated in the entangled web of these “conjoined twins” of racism and capitalism. Many worker-based organizations state that the best vehicle this country has in pursuit of economic justice is through organizing workers, but traditional labor hasn’t always been the best vehicle for racial justice. As Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin discuss in Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice, while many unions integrated in the 1920s, some unionists decided to resist integration to ensure wins and job quality for white workers. These traditionalists understood the idea of “conjoined twins.”

Racial and economic justice movements have exposed exploitative and extractive practices within capitalism, making it less secure to accumulate wealth through those means. However, as Michelle Alexander points out in her book, The New Jim Crow, exposing capitalism for what it is forces it to transform and evolve. For example, following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, agriculture was still the main economic engine, and free exploited labor was needed for this industry to survive. Capitalism evolved while maintaining its racist and exploitative roots through policymakers passing the Black Codes of 1865 and 1866, making it easier to imprison recently freed slaves to continue that supply of free labor.

We are catching up to the fact that capitalism was never meant to work for everyone. What will the next evolution in capitalism bring as our movements fight even harder for racial and economic justice in the face of harm to workers and marginalized communities?

Funders for a Just Economy (FJE) has created an intentional space to begin discussing what these questions mean for our work and the grantees we support. Capitalism’s origin story is a critical part of analyzing how this system operates. By acknowledging the “conjoined twins,” we acknowledge the role of race and the legacy of slavery. FJE believes that there is a renewed opportunity to support a working-class movement that builds the power of all workers, especially Black, Trans and LGBQ workers, women, and immigrants—and lift their role as the main strategists to change the system. If we believe another world is possible, then so is another system that bakes in justice, equity, and respect.


  

Join FJE for these conversations and more at the upcoming Racial Capitalism, Power and Resistance event on October 17 & 18 in Brooklyn, NY. More information and registration link here.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Power Building Study Group for Neighborhood Funders Group members, and the Disrupt the System: How Labor and Philanthropy can Build Worker Power in a New Era event co-convened by the AFL-CIO, the LIFT Fund, and FJE on December 11 in Washington, DC. More information coming soon!

 
August 15, 2019

Beyond Outrage: A Clarity of Purpose

Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director of the General Service Foundation, urges grantmakers and the philanthropic sector to take concrete actions to defend democracy and speak out against racist attacks on people of color. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Dimple 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. General Service Foundation, which partners with grassroots organizations to bring about a more just and sustainable world, is a member of NFG.


  

Dimple AbichandaniWe live in dangerous times, and every passing news cycle contains another outrage, another violation of norms, another threat to our democracy, another threat to our planet.  

In the face of escalating racial attacks, (be it imprisonment of kids on the border or the racist rhetoric being tweeted from the white house) many have noted, rightly, that philanthropy as a sector has been too cautious and too quiet.  The Communications Network, in it’s recent piece, Silence Speaks Volumes, calls on foundations to use their voices in this moment.

Yes, it’s meaningful for people from all sectors of our society to condemn the Administration’s attacks on people of color.  And, for those of us working in the philanthropic sector, these times call on us to use all of our tools in defense of our inclusive, multi-racial democracy.  We are more than commentators or observers– as funders, our role is to resource a more just and equitable future. What we do in this moment will be far more important than what we say.  

As painful as this moment is, it is also a time in which the work to be done has become more clear. The vulnerability of our democracy has become more clear.  Racial anxiety and social divisions are being stoked in order to prop up a reckless system that benefits only the wealthiest. As we condemn the most recent of a long list of outrages, can we also use this moment to deepen our own clarity of purpose, and ensure that our funding will bring about a more just future? 

As funders, we can not only speak out but also take action to bolster our inclusive democracy.

  1. Support those most directly impacted by injustice. Instead of wielding of our own voice and power as a foundation, we can support those most directly impacted by injustice to build their voice, power, and leadership. They must lead the way to a more just world; it is our job to uplift and resource their visions and voices. National organizations such as Color of Change, New American Leaders, and National Domestic Workers Alliance, regional and state-based organizations such as Western States Center, Black Voters Matter and Workers Defense Project and so many others are seeding a future in which racial, gender and economic justice will be the norm.
  2. Invest in the creation and dissemination of narratives that reshape cultural attitudes around belonging in our country.  The recent escalation in the use of racist and sexist rhetoric is not happening in a vacuum– rather it builds on broader public narratives shaped by white supremacy and male dominance.  We need to normalize new narratives that humanize all of us, that value all of us. Organizations such as the Pop Culture CollaborativeReFrame, and the Culture Change Fund, for example, build capacity for narrative equity and culture shift.
  3. Question the default funding habits and practices that limit us from making a bigger impact in this moment. As funders, we sometimes have a blind spot for how our internal practices create unnecessary burdens and barriers for organizations that do the important work we support. This moment calls on us to question our practices, shift to ways of working that account for the gravity of the problems we face, and center the people who are leading the social change efforts we support. Could your foundation increase its payout, provide more general operating support, increase the length of grants, and minimize busywork for grantees? Could you shift your grant strategy to more boldly meet the moment or more directly address the imbalances of power in our society? The Trust Based Philanthropy Network has tools and stories of inspiration from foundations who have increased their impact by changing their practices.

So many of us in philanthropy are eager to do something meaningful in this tumultuous time.  Let’s challenge ourselves to use this moment to put our institutional values into practice. Let’s walk the walk as boldly as we talk the talk.