Shared by: Nicole Giles, Strategic Initiatives Associate, Northern California Grantmakers
This moment has brought an enormous amount of anger. I am angry that last week, just an hour away, in Palmdale, Robert Fuller, a young Black man, was found hanging from a tree. I am angry that yesterday morning when my partner, a Black man, left for a jog, I couldn’t stop myself from having a panic attack because we live in a city where white supremacists are counter-protesting Black Lives Matter rallies and white men are driving around with nooses hanging out of the back of their pickup trucks. And so, at 6:30am I’m having panic attacks about the safety of my partner because he’s out taking a jog. An hour later, I’m grieving over the deaths of Oluwatoyin Salau, Riah Milton and Dominique Fells. Shortly after, I turn on autopilot and go to work for a field that is so slow-moving in their “efforts” towards equity. I’m angry.
I’m also excited. To echo Angela Davis, I am excited about the fact that this an unprecedented moment of resistance and mobilization for radical change. It feels like a true opportunity to move towards what philanthropy likes to call systems change. I like to imagine that we’re heading towards dismantling our institutions and rebuilding a world that’s foundation isn’t anti-Black racism, chattel slavery, genocide, colonialism and white patriarchy. A world that values life… that values the lives of Black women. This moment really may mean radical change.
And the idea of radical change brings
discomfort for a lot of people,
but as a Black woman, discomfort is
in truth of my identity and existence.
We don’t live in a world that’s designed to see the magic in being a Black women or that’s designed to protect and uplift Black women. We instead in live a world that is designed for my discomfort, for my disempowerment, my erasure and especially my silence. A world where, in the words of Porsha Olayiwola, “Black women receive tombstones too soon and never any flowers to dress the grave. So we fight alone.” And we fight multiple wars. That is especially true of Black trans women who are the most vulnerable and the most necessary to center in our advocacy and resistance, and yet are the most ignored and forgotten.
As you think about my words, I invite you all to be brave enough and strong enough to push past your discomfort, your willful ignorance, and your idea of normalcy both in grantmaking and in life. I invite you to do the work of: educating yourself before you speak, listening to the most radical thinkers and organizers, even if we’re only 22, and critically examining the ethicality of the institutions you might be willing to uphold, just because change feels uncomfortable, inconvenient or a threat to your idea of normalcy. Join the people imagining and investing in a world where safety for Black, Brown, queer, trans and disabled folks isn’t an illusion – where prisons and police are obsolete, communities have their rightful power and resources, wealth isn’t hoarded while poor people starve, and we are unified in taking care of one another’s needs. Truth be told, in a world like that, philanthropy as an institution is no longer needed.
So, I invite you to think
about what you’re fighting for.
This was shared in the event This is the Moment: A Philanthropic Call to Unify and End the Epidemic of Racism co-hosted by Latino Community Foundation (LCF), East Bay Community Foundation, Black Funders Network of the Bay Area, HIP, and Philanthropy CA. Masha Chernyak, VP of Programs of LCF asked Nicole what gave her hope and inspiration in this moment.