By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
It has been two weeks since the election. Like many of you, I, too, have been thinking about what this means. With a new president whose party will control both houses of Congress – not to mention appointments to the Supreme Court – the potential for change – significant change – is high. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government will soon be aligned in a way that will have long-lasting impact.
So, what does that mean for WRAG members’ philanthropy and for those of you working on education reform, access to health care, affordable housing, immigration, civic engagement, and the list goes on? With every new appointment and every public statement, there is greater clarity. But, in my opinion, the dust still hasn’t cleared enough for a fully informed consideration of the anticipated impact on the social justice issues of concern to many of us. I don’t think that time is far away, just not here quite yet.
We suspect that changes in health care, immigration, environmental policy, and potentially education, are likely and will have an impact on philanthropy and on the most vulnerable in our region. WRAG will monitor the national stage and work with issue experts, political thinkers, and our membership to assess realities that might suggest the need for alternatives to current giving priorities. Our membership is already primed to adjust their giving to meet new needs for advocacy, safety net services, and research to provide greater insight and intelligence on the new reality.
While some areas do still seem muddied to me, there is clarity in one space. Following a campaign in which race and racism was a prevalent undercurrent and a post-election reality in which hate crimes and hate-filled language are on the rise, the need for our Putting Racism on the Table work seems even more critical. WRAG will continue to be committed to forging conversations and actions that contribute to racial understanding and healing. Some are already scheduled and more work will emerge soon that is intended to reach beyond the original target audience of the local philanthropic community.
There has been a seismic shift in this country. We must acknowledge that reality. WRAG will work with leaders across our region and with our membership to ensure that all the residents of our region have equitable opportunities to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives. Our world has changed and our response to that world must also change.
We are our brothers – and our sisters – keepers. Soon after September 11th, the phrase, “If you see something, say something” became popular to broaden the responsibility for national security. Our security is now threatened by bigotry and malice toward people who are the “other.” If you see injustice or racial hatred, please don’t be silent. Use your voice. Use your platform.
Note: A message similar to this was sent to WRAG member CEOs on November 16, 2016.