Hi everyone, this post may be less coherent and more serious than normal. I can’t stop thinking about the news regarding the remains of 215 Native children found at the site of a residential school in Kamloops, Canada. White Canadians – teachers, administrators, the church, the government – murdered them. It is deeply sad and horrifying. I can only imagine the pain and trauma these children endured, and what Indigenous families and communities have been going through.
Meanwhile, this week marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, where in the span of hours a mob of white people murdered hundreds of Black people, left thousands homeless, and burned Black Wall Street to the ground. It is profoundly horrendous, and something I don’t think our white-centric education system taught many of us.
Over the weekend I listened to this episode of The Ethical Rainmaker, where my friend (and fellow co-chair of Community-Centric Fundraising) Michelle Muri talks with journalist Teddy Schleifer about billionaires and what they’re doing with all that money. Apparently, during the pandemic, the number of billionaires increased by 30%, and 86% of them got even more wealthy than before the pandemic. According to Teddy, Silicon Valley billionaires will in the next couple of decades overshadow large established foundations in terms of assets and influence.
However, there is significant angst about what to do philanthropically with this newfound wealth. There are so many factors to consider: which issues to choose, how to deploy it effectively to bring about the most societal good, how to avoid current ineffective practices. This causes many billionaires to just set money aside in Donor-Advised Funds and other vehicles while they try to figure things out. Some of them literally send tweets asking for suggestions on what to do, what issues they should work on. And because so many of these billionaires are men, they often ask their wives or partner to handle the philanthropy.
This week we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose teachings have often been beacons of light for our sector. As we transition into something resembling hope and renewal with this incoming presidential administration, I encourage us to reflect on the words Dr. King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, where he warned of the “white moderate” being the biggest barrier toward social justice. He said:
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Happy Monday, everyone! The happiest I can recall in a while! I was able to sleep soundly for the first time in a long time, and my stress acne magically cleared up and has been replaced by hope acne. (Look, even my sense of humor is returning!) Before I forget, Crystal Hayling, ED of the Libra Foundation, and I will be having an informal conversation this week, November 10th at 1pm PT, to debrief philanthropy and anything else that we want to discuss. We didn’t plan any talking points, so half of the conversation may just be about our favorite shows, who knows, join us.
I know that most of us are taking some time to celebrate this political and moral victory. Some of us are still in disbelief, and like a large multi-year pledged donation that hasn’t been paid, we can’t really believe that this is real until our new president and vice president are sworn in on inauguration day. I too am a jumble of emotions: hope, catharsis, joy, but also hypervigilance and fear at the backlash that may be coming.
Hi everyone, apologies for the likely brusque tone of this week’s post. Like many of you, I am shaken by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; may her memory be a blessing. It is hard for us to celebrate the life of an extraordinary (and imperfect) leader when there are so many terrifying implications now that she is gone. Already Trump and McConnell plan to ram a nomination through, despite what they said four years ago about not confirming SCOTUS nominees during election years. The hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy are astounding but not surprising. We need to ensure Biden/Harris are elected and the Senate is majority blue, then expand the Supreme Court, set term limits, grant statehood to DC, pass the Voting Rights Act, end the filibuster, and get rid of the electoral college, among other things.
If you’re asking me why I’m talking about politics on a nonprofit blog, I need you to shut the hell up. Believing that nonprofit and philanthropy are somehow separate from or above politics is how we’ve been complicit in perpetuating unjust systems. And yet we keep doing this. Last week, I gave a keynote virtually where I reminded folks that kids are still in cages, that Black people are still being killed by the police, that Indigenous women are still missing and murdered, and that everything is still being controlled by rich old white dudes and we need to get more women of color elected into office. In the chat stream was a sniveling remark along the lines of “Wow, this presentation did not need to be so political.”