In Defense of Black Lives
We have to say their names.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Ahmaud Arbery. Nina Pop. Countless others…
Every name is a human being; every name is part of a family, a group of friends, a community, and a culture. For too long, we’ve disregarded the value of lives attached to black bodies and we’ve imposed oppressive systems that make it impossible for them to be equal and free. The rebellion we see today is the result of a deep unmet need to reckon and rectify that history.
As we witness white supremacy acted out at full strength through the repeated killing of Black people at the hands of police, we also witness an unprecedented uprising in the streets of cities across the U.S. and around the globe. In our vision of a just world, every person is valued and able to be the authors of their own destiny. But in order to get there, we must undo the layers of racism and injustice we’ve built into our global culture.
Black people are putting their bodies on the line to turn systems of oppression upside down. The institutions of government, law enforcement and the so-called justice system are all embedded with racist policies that have been instilled and defended for more than 400 years. Even in the face of the coronavirus, which is disproportionately killing black and other vulnerable people, the demand for justice is calling people out of the safety of quarantine and into the streets. We must be willing to support them as they stand on the front lines of two pandemics: Racism and the COVID-19.
We stand as One. At HRFN, we stand with people in the streets like Tamika Mallory – a young black activist who reframed a harmful narrative of protest and declared to the multinational corporations, “you all are the looters.” She, like so many people who have adopted protest as their preferred language of grief, deserves a world that recognizes their value, appreciates their addition to society, and invests in their health and safety.
The US government has the resources, both monetarily and institutionally, to support underserved and disadvantaged communities. But instead of investing in protecting human rights and the lives of its citizens, the US has leveraged the force of the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and other departments that were founded on the basis of racism to attack protestors and rob them of their constitutional rights.
Philanthropy must step in and challenge anti-black racism!
We must fund for a more just future. For those in philanthropy, let’s heed the wise words of Will Cordery in his recent article in NonProfit Quarterly, “Institutional philanthropy needs to acknowledge how it benefits from white privilege and commit to actively working to disarm this weapon of privilege before it can earnestly and holistically support racial justice.” It’s time to organize, strategize and mobilize resources for racial and social justice. We must play our part by increasing funding to Black-led organizing, both in and outside the U.S. And to ensure long-term sustainable change, we must provide funding to grassroots organizations for years to come. We embrace the solidarity call in philanthropy from the Neighborhood Funders Group to Fund Black lives, Black futures, Black organizing.
Today and every day, Black Lives Matter. We stand against white supremacy and police brutality. We are united with the people who possess the courage to resist, the strength to risk their lives and the trust in collective action to make a difference. We believe that the vast majority of black people and people of color will come together to get out from under the racist thumb of oppression globally and build the world we all envision.
Erecting that world requires an ongoing commitment to justice and a relentless pursuit to ensure all people, especially the historically oppressed, have a clear path to liberation. Nothing less will suffice.
Ana María Enríquez
Executive Director, HRFN