The Dawn of Philanthropy in 2021:
A Look Back on a Tumultuous Week and
a Commitment to the Long Haul
ABFE Members, Supporters and Friends – Happy New Year!
The events of last week reminds us of the complex plight facing Black people in America. While the news is fixated on the insurrection and breach of the United States Capitol on January 6th, it was the events two days before that started my “back to work” week with a mix of emotions— rage, grief, and hope.
Absent from the headlines is that on January 5th, the District Attorney in Kenosha, Wisconsin announced there would be no charges filed against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in the back seven times when he opened the driver’s door to his SUV and leaned in while his three sons watched from the back seat. In anticipation of an “uprising” based on this decision, Kenosha officials received approval and mobilized 500 National Guard troops armed with assault rifles that met the few dozen activists who held a peaceful protest that day. The scene depicted clear signs of over-policing and militarization that our communities are painfully familiar with. The first several hours of January 5th were difficult, I felt a sense of rage and grief all rolled up into one.
That evening, we turned our attention to the Georgia Senate runoff races and watched history in the making! The state was about to send an African American “Morehouse” man who grew up in public housing and a Jewish man, the son of an immigrant, to the U.S. Senate. What made the victory even sweeter was that we knew that years of blood, sweat and tears of Black-led organizing and movement groups succeeded in mobilizing voters and creating a new political story that juxtaposed the “old” south with the “new” south. My social media was blowing up! The evening hours of January 5th were glorious; I felt a sense of victory and hope all rolled up into one.
In just the span of one day, I felt the full complexity of being Black in America – Rage, Grief and Hope.
The events of January 6th have dominated the headlines of the day. ABFE condemns the violence that we witnessed in Washington, D.C. and other statehouses throughout the country, as well as the actions of political leaders who “lit the spark” to fuel its fire. It also should now be crystal clear for everyone to see the different ways in which predominately white crowds are engaged, controlled, and policed versus predominately Black crowds or those who assemble to uphold the humanity of Black lives.
All signs suggest that 2021 will be a tumultuous year and a lot lies on our shoulders. I know that each of us feels the weight of what stands before us. We have three asks as we begin this new year:
1.Do not forget the unjust shooting of Jacob Blake (or Breonna Taylor and so many others) nor the tireless work of Black-led organizing groups that made history in Georgia.
2. Remember that the healing and reconciliation that this country is in desperate need of and that leaders in the highest levels of power are calling for, must follow a process of truth telling and justice for us to be able to move past bad acts of wrongdoing together (I see so many wanting to “skip steps”!); and
As ABFE celebrates its 50th anniversary, now more than ever before, philanthropy must collaborate and “do the work” to invest in efforts that build and defend democracy and eradicate racism. The future of our country depends on it. We look forward to working with you to make it happen.