A few years ago, I discovered a personal pattern: Anytime that I had five or more consecutive days off, I would immediately get sick the first three days. Talking to other nonprofit leaders, I found out it was not unusual. It’s as if our bodies were so busy dealing with one crisis after another at our jobs that we just didn’t have time to get sick, and it catches up to us all at once when we have a moment to breathe.
Last week was the inauguration of US President Biden and Vice President Harris. I don’t think any of us believe that having a new US president will instantly solve everything. White supremacy and injustice will not end just because there’s a new administration. But this change at least allows us a moment to catch our breath, to take a break, and maybe get out of survival mindset long enough to assess how to best move forward.
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.”
Over the past few days, I’ve been seeing public statements about the violent fascist coup attempt. Some are great, and some are awful. At this point, after the hundreds of statements that came out after George Floyd’s murder, many of us are exhausted with these statements against injustice, because so many of them are meaningless.
If you are going to write one about the violent white supremacist efforts to install Trump as an autocrat, here are some suggestions, in no particular order. Please keep in mind that I am not a communications expert or a PR person. But I do interact a lot with colleagues, and the below are some of the things I’ve been hearing. Take what’s useful to you, ignore the rest:
Happy New Year, everyone! I know this week is rough. We’re back at work, with the thousands of emails, hundreds of to-do items, and a whole bunch of virtual meetings lined up with people who are probably just as grumpy as we are. I feel like crap, you feel like crap, we all feel like crap. Except for Ryan, who is always so chipper, God I hate that guy.
Anyway, it’s 2021, so I have compiled 21 tips that are scientifically proven to help you feel better and make this week just a little bit more bearable. Choose the stuff that works for you, ignore everything else:
Hi everyone, before we get into today’s post, three quick reminders. First, this Thursday December 10th at 11am PT, there is a free webinar on Transformational Capacity Building; read this article I helped write about how #CapacityBuildingSoWhite and let’s work together to change that. Second, go to grantadvisor.org and write an anonymous review of a foundation, or remind your grantees to do so, if you haven’t done it in a while. Third, make sure you’re flossing; dental hygiene is still important.
Since its launch five months ago, the Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) movement has been growing. Get involved by joining the Facebook page, Twitter, Slack, and Instagram. Also check out all the amazing and mind-blowing content on the CCF Hub. I am grateful for all the folks putting time and energy into writing, podcasting, doing videos, and crafting poems challenging existing fundraising philosophies and practices, because #FundraisingSoWhite. (You can contribute to the Hub too; here are the editorial guidelines).
It’s not just fundraising and capacity building, but also #EvalSoWhite, #PhilanthropySoWhite, #GovernanceSoWhite, #HiringPracticesSoWhite, #CommunicationsSoWhite (and during the Before Times, OfficeSnacksSoWhite), etc. We need BIPOC folks to share their experiences and push to change these narratives.
However, many brilliant BIPOC folks are still really hesitant to contribute content and get their voices out there. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. Let’s examine this, because the perspectives of folks who are most affected by injustice are vital to our sector. This post is meant as encouragement and advice for BIPOC content creators, but I want white allies to pay attention to this issue, as you have a lot of gatekeeping power in this area.