The tragedy of lethal police violence against unarmed black men and women has become all too common. The streets of Baltimore scream with outrage over the death of Freddie Gray. Just two weeks ago, we mourned the death of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Did the death of Eric Garner make no difference? Rekia Boyd in Chicago? Was the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson not a wake-up call?
In this moment, it's easy to be overwhelmed. We are all fluctuating back and forth between grief, anger, horror and dismay.
Dismay is the most dangerous of these emotions. It leads to inertia and complacency.
This is not the time to throw up our hands and sigh, "What can we do?"
It's a time for action.
One valuable action is to contribute to community organizations working to address the inequities and outrages of the criminal justice system, as well as economic inequality, racial health disparities and structural barriers to building political power for people of color. At this moment, more than ever, if you believe that #BlackLivesMatter, you should support a stronger movement for racial justice.
Unfortunately, organizations led by African-Americans and other people of color, focused on building power in their communities, are woefully under-funded. To make the change we seek, we need thriving, well-funded organizations based in communities of color who deeply understand the problems and needed solutions.
That's why the Racial Justice Pledge is so vitally important. A collaborative project launched by partners at Bolder Giving, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, Neighborhood Funders Group, North Star Fund, Proteus Fund, Resource Generation, Solidair, Threshold Foundation and the Women Donors Network, it calls upon donors of all levels to commit to supporting at least one additional racial justice organization or to increase their giving to a racial justice group they already support. It's part of a broad effort by the Neighborhood Funders Group to highlight programs and resources for racial justice grant-making in this moment, at Funders for Justice.
The Pledge has become a focal point of the progressive donor community's response to what could be described as an epidemic of racially charged police violence, and has already generated close to $1 million in commitments.
Many of the funders involved are taking it a step further. Resource Generation, for example, has developed criteria for funding Black-led organizing for Black liberation complemented by A Partial Map of Black-led Liberation Organizing that includes more than 170 groups. Collective action funds have been launched in New York and California. At the Women Donors Network, we are convening our members nationwide -- from Washington State to Colorado to Pennsylvania -- to engage in a deep conversation about how racial justice relates to our individual and collective philanthropy.
Often, the "philanthropic sector's response" can seem out of touch with what the average individual might be able to do with their giving. Fortunately, the Racial Justice Pledge has as much resonance for the $50 donor as it does for the $50,000 funder.
The message is clear.
Transform your shock and outrage about racial injustice into action. Align your generosity with your commitment to building a stronger movement for racial justice.
Take the Racial Justice Pledge.
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