By: Amber Gonzales-Vargas
Real talk…2020 has been one of the most unprecedented years of my life, and most likely yours as well. And yet, when things felt like they were cancelled, uncomfortable, painful….and honestly scary, one thing has resounded loud and clear for me. Our Latinx community is a force.
I see it every day in my dad, an immigrant and refugee from Peru and frontline worker at a natural food packaging company who has been working overtime because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And my mom, who just started working as a Census enumerator helping ensure a full count of Californians. And even my younger brother who graduated virtually from UC Davis with the #COVIDClassof2020.
I see it in my extended family at the Latino Community Foundation working hard every single day to meet the moment and the needs of our community.
I see it in the Latino Giving Circle Network (LGCN) and the nonprofits they support, reminding me of what’s possible when we come together. In a moment in time, when it may have been easy to feel alone, the network brought me hope and connection. We met this moment with resiliency, love, and most of all—action.
I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2020, a year like no other. Here are three things I’m proudest of:
1. Mobilizing Resources and Spotlighting Latino-led grassroots nonprofits battling COVID-19
In 2020, the LGCN has given more than $160,000 in grants both in Rapid Response and in regularly scheduled grantmaking. And we are just in August! Several Giving Circles are still scheduled to give out grants later this year, with some even doing a second round of grants. These dollars are brought together by everyday people who are contributing $4/day or $1000/year and want to see a positive change in California.
As we have seen, Covid-19 is not only a health crisis, it’s an economic one. In addition to funding a Latino-led nonprofit supporting economic development, the Los Angeles Latino Giving Circle took their work one element further and hosted a virtual event to highlight the valuable work of street vendors. They invited experts in this field and inspired hearts and minds to focus in on the importance of street vendors. They even inspired their fellow LGCN members to host similar events.
2. Doing the Internal Work of Anti-Racism and Anti-Transphobia
The LGCN is made up of 500 members, the majority of who are Latinx or Latino identifying. There are many intersectionalities within our community. I am proud that in the middle of this resurgence of social movements for racial equity and Black lives, members hosted conversations in their Giving Circles around colorism and anti-blackness in the Latinx community. I am inspired by events like, “Dismantling Transphobia in the Latinx Community” which will be hosted by members of our LGBTQ Latinx Giving Circle in the coming weeks. In many ways, these conversations and events have been entry ways in how we can stop prejudice and discrimination in our personal and professional lives.
We have the power to combat anti-blackness, transphobia, homophobia, and so much more. All people are worthy of dignity and respect and this network is being bold in addressing our own blind spots.
3. Holding space for each other
We are all humans and we have our good days and bad days when we struggle. To be honest, this is probably what makes working with 500 people so exciting and so challenging. I have been so happy to see Giving Circle members hold space for each other and provide much needed love and support. This is truly a community that grows, learns and supports together. We aren’t perfect, but we are doing the best we can.
When we look back at this moment in time, we will be looking at the history we created. The Latino Giving Circle Network has already made a huge difference in 2020. As the election nears, we are in the pursuit of justice and ensuring that our vote is heard at the ballot box and that our presence is felt it in the Census. With less than 85 days away from election day, I see Giving Circle members motivating their networks to get civically engaged through artivism, writing postcards to GOTV and personal calls to action on their respective social media platforms. Over 150 LGCN members signed a joint letter to advocate for a Latino moderator for the 2020 Presidential Debates
The Latinx community is a force and the LGCN is a true representation of what our power united and in full activation can do. The LGCN is a place to find and build the community you want. This network is working to build the change we want to see.
I invite you to invest in this movement, join us for a meeting and help us create a world where change, not charity leads our work.
For more information please contact Amber at firstname.lastname@example.org