ADVOCATE.

Resourcing Radical Justice (RRJ) explores opportunities for change, both inside and outside of philanthropy.

 

BACKGROUND:
 
The trajectory of our current work began in July 2020 when the RRJ Advocacy Committee released
a survey to Black people and other people of color in our local philanthropic sector to share stories about their experiences of interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism. Unsurprisingly, hurt and harm had been repeatedly perpetuated among those working in the DMV region. Major themes collected included:

  • White mediocrity rewarded and protected time and again in the normal course of our work;
     

  • BIPOC/global majority people being underpaid, overworked, and actively excluded from advancement opportunities;
     

  • Tokenism through structures, practices and workplace cultures treat BIPOC/global majority people as representatives of their race;
     

  • The centrality of anti-Blackness and the individual and collective trauma it repeatedly inflicts on Black people;
     

  • Other people of color/of the global majority bearing witness to anti-Blackness and the secondary trauma that it inflicts;
     

  • Fear of retaliation from others if they were to speak out about the racism they experienced in the sector.

 


The advocacy committee seeks to actively reimagine philanthropy and take radical action that repairs injustice and fosters liberation for Black people and people of the global majority both inside and outside of the sector.

Strategy: Bring our peers together to both heal from the trauma of working within the philanthropic sector and to reimagine a sector that centers the lived reality of Black people and people of the global majority

Actions: Build trusting relationships and collective power with philanthropic peers; Use our collective power to advocate for philanthropic transformation; Build, share, and wield our collective power with grassroots partners to advocate for systems change

 

Impact: Strong relationships rooted in liberating practice and systemic change both inside and outside of the philanthropic sector 

 

OUR THEORY OF CHANGE:
 

HEALING RETREAT FOR BLACK PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF THE GLOBAL MAJORITY IN DMV PHILANTHROPY:

With the need to address racism in the sector mounting, the RRJ Advocacy Committee saw an opportunity for the local BIPOC/global majority philanthropy community to come together and share in centering truth, liberation, and brilliance to:
 

  1. Reimagine how philanthropy and other workplaces dominated by a false hierarchy of human value are experienced; and
     

  2. Clarify any collective action that might be taken to address the sector. The space created for this purpose was the “Healing Retreat for Black People and People of the Global Majority in DMV Philanthropy.”

The retreat, held over two days in October 2020, sought to honor the practices and traditions within our communities that support the healing process. Retreat participants shared in art, storytelling, and reflection, which lifted up the continued need for restoration of relationships and reparation of harm. 

 

We commissioned a visual artist and a poet to create art inspired by the survey results. Both works were released during the retreat.

"When Mountains Collide" by Rebecca Crouch

When Mountains Collide by Rebecca Crouch

Rebecca Crouch: www.rdcartgallery.com | Facebook: @RachelandRebeccaArt | Instagram: @rdcartgallery

"We Are Tired." by Charity Blackwell

How do you expect me to joyfully consistently show up as my full self

Expect me to swallow the jagged pills of oppression and endure the cuts of microaggression

And put my trauma on the shelf?

I am tired.. We are tired

Tired of running and gunning this rigged race

At the same pace but no advancement just running in place

You ignore the hurdles I jumped, the blood sweat and tears I’ve embrace

To only be given the smallest portion of pie from the plate

But you say

You finally got a piece of the pie!

Just be lucky that you ate

So yes I am tired,

We are tired of from the hunger our stomachs ache

Tire of the empty promises, with no devotion,

Just an ocean of washed emotions

And just going through the motions

Like that promotion rewarded to white mediocrity 

But the expectation for nothing less than greatness from me

Oh the hypocrisy

It’s a monopoly 

Or just like the time my expressed ideas were suppressed

But that same ideas from my white colleagues were deemed the best

I'm tired of continuously having to digest the stress of working 

In white centered spaces

Tired of the confusion from the “colorblind” illusion

Tired of being tokened as the face of Diversity and Inclusion

Tired of being the caretaker for white fragility

Tired of masking my trauma to display civility

Tired of the isolation in my work community

Smothered in the virus of racism and 

I need immunity

Stop telling me you voted for Obama,

Stop telling me how many black friends you can count on one hand

Stop asking me, “Are you ok?” or “I'm so sorry”

After there is a killing of a defenseless black man 

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed I just want to cry shout

See How do you expect me to joyfully consistently show up as my full self

Expect me to swallow the jagged pills of oppression and endure the cuts of microaggression

And put my trauma on the shelf?

I feel suffocated, gagged, you know, fear of damnation

Fear if I speak out, they’ll lash out with retaliation

So I am tired, we are tired

Tired from running in place

Tired from fidgeting in a straitjacket

Tired from shouting and from a gagged mouth

 

But nonetheless, we still clock in

Still find the ability to pour into others when we ourselves are depleted

Still show up

Still speak up

Still outperform

Still outsmart

We Dust off our Armor and keep it pushing because we be great like that

Keep it pushing for those before use, with us and after

We have the power to shatter the glass ceiling that has hovered over us like dark cloud for so long

But always know that it's ok to be tired.

I’m tired…

WE are tired….

Just know you are not alone

www.charityblackwell.com | Facebook: @CharityBlackwell | Instagram: CharityJoyceBlackwell | Twitter: @_CharityBlack

The RRJ Advocacy Committee will continue looking holistically at the sector, addressing the power of sharing, healing, and reimagination within philanthropy and in relation to community partners.