Tag: Charlottesville

Standing against anti-Black racism on the anniversary of Charlottesville

Dear Colleagues:

It is with a heavy heart, but a powerful sense of urgency, that we approach the first anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville. The hideous xenophobia and hate displayed on August 12, 2017, began in response to the proposed removal from a local park of a Confederate monument, a symbol of historic racism and oppression that primarily targeted enslaved African Americans. Klan members, neo-Nazis and “alt-right” agitators united to preserve and celebrate white supremacy, resulting in countless attacks and the death of Heather Heyer.

Members of the Greater Washington region’s philanthropic community continue to work collectively, through the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG), toward an equitable future. This future relies on the dismantling of all forms of oppression. The tragic events of Charlottesville began in the spirit of anti-Blackness and became a rallying cry for anti-Semitism and other manifestations of hate against immigrants and the LGBTQ community.

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of this horrific event, WRAG’s Racial Equity Working Group (REWG) is reminded of why it chose to conduct its work utilizing an anti-Black racism frame. This frame is not intended to alienate other oppressed communities, but rather, to address the foundational nature of anti-Blackness in the false hierarchy of human value that is now codified in our laws, neighborhood configurations, economic and social systems, and the ways in which power and resources are concentrated in our region and nation. REWG believes that understanding and addressing anti-Black racism will help reveal solutions to eradicate the manifestation of all forms of bias, racism, and hate.

REWG calls on everyone targeted by those who seek to demonize Black people, other people of color, and all those marginalized and oppressed to stand shoulder to shoulder in our collective quest for equity and justice.

Sincerely,

Tamara Copeland, President and CEO
Hanh Le, Co-Chair, Racial Equity Working Group
Yanique Redwood, Co-Chair, Racial Equity Working Group
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

White people, it’s time to act

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Racism and racists have been put on the table in a powerful way since the recent events in Charlottesville.

When WRAG embarked upon the Putting Racism on the Table learning journey, we made a conscious decision to focus on implicit bias, white privilege, and structural racism. Our intent was to educate those who might have been blind to the ways in which society advantaged or disadvantaged one group of people over another. We wanted to work with those with a social conscious and a philanthropic platform to change their way of engaging on racial and social justice.

The death of Heather Heyer and the recent venomous statements from neo-Nazis and white supremacists have revealed a different side of racism. Personal animus, personal hatred, have been given permission to be publicly, proudly displayed.

What has been revealed is neither unconscious nor structural. This racism is personal. The hatred is primal. We cannot let what has been unleashed go unaddressed.

MLK silence quote. placardIn our work, we have talked about the importance of white allies. Allyship is not what is needed now. The white community must lead this charge. These white supremacists are from your communities, your churches, your schools, your work places, your families. They will listen to you, observe your actions, and possibly respect your opinions with a receptivity that I would never receive. You must use your voice to speak up, not simply in reaction to racists’ actions or statements, but proactively. You must discuss the ways in which people of color contribute to the good of our country. You must seek out doctors, lawyers, house-painters, mechanics – all types of service providers who don’t look like you, or love like you, or worship like you so that those around you can better understand the good and the talent that rests outside of the white, “Christian”* race. You must look for opportunities to proactively celebrate differences while being vigilant and counterbalancing the venom that is being openly spewed today.

No one can be silent.

*I put Christian in quotes only because I do not believe that these individuals practice Christianity in the way that I was raised, but they do put their Christian faith above all other faiths.