Last Tuesday, on March 16th, the attack in Atlanta that resulted in deaths of 8 people including six Asian women was an act of racial, gender, and class-based violence following a year of increases in racially motivated hate crimes and acts of aggression. The seeds of anti-Asian hate have been cultivated by people perpetuating the derogatory narrative government leaders adopted at the start of COVID19 but have been deeply steeped in our country’s DNA for hundreds of years.
At Philanthropy Massachusetts, we strongly denounce these acts of hate – a statement that seems baffling and yet necessary to make. It would be a misnomer to say we stand in solidarity with our AAPI colleagues because we are an organization and a sector inclusive of AAPI colleagues: Board members and staff at Philanthropy MA, staff and trustees at our member organizations, partners in effective and impactful philanthropy in our region. Yes, we stand in solidarity because Philanthropy MA wouldn’t be Philanthropy MA without its AAPI colleagues.
Exactly one year ago from last week’s murders, on March 16, 2020, Nellie Mae Education Foundation launched its Racism is a Virus fund, a rapid response fund responding to hate crimes and bias against Asian American communities in the time of COVID. It was one of the first responses coming from our sector, and we quickly amplified it out via all of our communication channels. However, we sadly found ourselves throughout 2020 needing to broadcast more calls for racial justice. Even more sadly, I still find myself needing to issue a statement today in 2021.
Last Friday, at the start of our “A Year After the Onset of COVID19” program, I issued a statement calling for Stop of Asian Hate and these acts of domestic terrorism. During this gathering of 100 colleagues, we dedicated time to a conversation around Accountability. At the start of that discussion, a colleague asked, “How do you want to show up in the world?” I want to stop making statements and actually effect change.
To that end, I challenge you, my colleagues here in philanthropy in Massachusetts, to lean in and do more, just as I call on myself to do so. Last week, we posted the compelling Chronicle of Philanthropy letter written by Patricia Eng, CEO of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), and Erik Stegman, ED of Native Americans in Philanthropy, As Violence Against Asian Americans Intensifies, the Moment for Philanthropy to Act Is Now, calling for repudiation of violence against AAPI communities and supporting these communities in your grantmaking and racial equity strategies. Listen to Grace Nicolette, Vice President at Center for Effective Philanthropy, who offers specific ways that funders can act right now in It’s Time for Philanthropy to Address Its Erasure of AAPI Voices and Perspectives.
Finally, I’m no expert when it comes to issues of race and equity, and I recognize my privilege as a white man in a leadership role. As a CEO of a philanthropy serving organization long-dedicated to inclusion and equity, I feel a responsibility to lean in and speak out. Last June I offered up a call to action that not only applies today, but is more resonant for all the wrong reasons. It is clear that there is a reckoning in our country and our sector right now that is long overdue, and many are moving in the right direction. Are you? What side of history do you want to be on? How do YOU want to show up?