Monthly Reflection: Action on National Day of Racial Healing

Monthly Reflection: Action on National Day of Racial Healing

Kiran Ahuja

Conversations on America’s legacy of racism and xenophobia can be difficult, even make us uncomfortable. But silence would signal indifference, and we are not indifferent to the historic and contemporary effects of racism, or the racial divisiveness resurfacing across our country today.

Bias, bigotry and violence are antithetical to the values of Philanthropy Northwest and our region’s shared vision for vibrant, healthy communities. That’s why philanthropy and philanthropy-serving organizations should seize on opportunities that, in the words of Dr. Gail Christopher, architect of the W.K Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing Initiative and keynote speaker at our 2017 Annual Conference, “help us progress toward healing and overcoming racism in America.”

That’s also why Philanthropy Northwest joins the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among many others across our regional and national network, in recognizing the second annual National Day of Racial Healing (#NDORH) and promoting W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation framework as a means for dismantling bias, bridging divides and building a brighter, more equitable tomorrow.

Philanthropy has a role to play. Recent examples include the Ford Foundation announcing a bold new initiative to diversify our national monuments, helping ensure our public spaces reflect the full and true American story. A group of philanthropies and philanthropists are also helping the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to design and build a National Native American Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. And the W.K. Kellogg Foundation just underwrote four days of free admission to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Here are three additional, concrete ways to help you become an active part of the solution year-round:

Apply an equity lens to your program design and grantmaking practices. 

We must ensure our own policies, programs and giving practices are fully inclusive of the diverse experiences and expertise of communities of color and underserved populations. Any less, and we risk perpetuating the very problems we hope to address. At Philanthropy Northwest, we recognize the goal and appreciate the journey—and look forward to unpacking our own journey with you in the months ahead. Until then, from our Momentum Fellowship that helps prepare professionals from untapped communities for successful careers in philanthropy to our biannual trainings on Grantmaking with an Equity Lens, our equity-driven programming continues to expand. To learn more about these programs, and other ways we can support you on your journey, please contact us

Center the lived experiences of those most impacted.

We must not become complacent or over-confident in philanthropy’s traditional rubrics and methodologies. We must encourage, trust and enable the participation of all voices and the lived experiences of all communities impacted by injustice and inequity. We must stay humble, curious and open-minded. Always listening, learning and looking for new and meaningful ways to include, champion and fund people of color-led organizations—by broadening access to the tools and resources, as well as long-term capacity building support, they need to thrive. For example, in our Rural Openness Cohorts in Washington and Oregon, we invite community-based organizations that are working with, and in, communities of color to share their approaches to engaging in partnerships with funders and nonprofits. In doing so, we are helping create a forum that enables all stakeholders to act authentically and center community experiences in the design of solutions.

Roll up your selves, and get messy! Really.

Exploring the entrenched biases that bind us can be messy, painful work. Yet, conversations that lead to accountability, learning and growth can also help turn experiences of denial and suffering into experiences of knowledge and purpose. On March 9, in partnership with the Raikes Foundation, we will host National Book Award Winner Dr. Ibram X. Kendi for a special conversation at Seattle University on why shifting the discussion from how not to be racist, to how to be antiracist is key to building racial equity in America. Space is limited, so register today!

Thank you for learning and growing with us on the healing journey, together.