Last year, published a piece entitled White Women Doing White Supremacy in Nonprofit Culture. We’re continuing the series with additional posts from the staff of the Tzedek Social Justice Fund (formerly the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund). As a part of a larger process of organizational reflection and analysis building, the staff and the founder-funder shared reflections about what they learned in the process of analyzing power, white supremacy, oppression, alongside liberation. Marsha Davis shares her perspective on being a woman of color in philanthropy and in an organization exploring what white supremacy culture means for its staff and its work in the community. Lindsay Majer explores the power of going inward and culture building. Amy Mandel shares what it looks like to be in right relationship with power as a person with wealth and as a founder-funder of a family foundation.
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle Philanthropy
I’ve learned many lessons from my family of Haitian immigrants. My parents came to this country seeking better opportunities for themselves and their children; and as I was growing up, they drilled into my head the importance of taking “my seat at the table.” While they believed in America’s potential, they weren’t naive about America’s reality. They knew that my status as a black woman in a white-led country left me vulnerable to all sorts of discrimination. My parents knew that in order to take advantage of all that America had to offer and to have the most self-determination over my own life, I had to be in the rooms where the decisions were made.
Liberation from the Inside Out
imagine our pause for the cause has looked like an eleven-month vacation. We did not welcome a new cohort of Fellows. We haven’t hosted lunch and learns or community forums. We haven’t produced widgets. Though our grantmaking has continued and we recently announced several pilot programs, some of you may have wondered what we’ve been up to.
I can attest that we’ve been hard at work. We have been looking inward naming our privilege, looking power in the face, unlearning internalized beliefs, and resisting practices entrenched in white supremacy with patience, compassion and care for each other. It’s ongoing work that requires emotional labor and continual reflection. Here, I share with you part of my processing:
A Founder’s Reflections on Pausing and Transitioning
I’ve been spending time reflecting on some big questions lately: What is the value of building relationships and internal culture for an organization like ours? How has the internal work we’ve done as a team impacted our external work? And how has this work aided our journey toward a new organizational structure and a forthcoming leadership transition?
A year ago, we began working with Beth Trigg and Tamiko Ambrose-Murray to build a team culture centered on a shared set of values. We built analysis together and in community. We envisioned and launched an extensive community-based research process. Our grantmaking and programming will be forever changed because of this work.