REACH Storyletter: Reflections from Ain

July 28, 2020

Volume 2

Hello REACH community,

We have only just reached the halfway mark of 2020, and already it has been such a full and challenging year. COVID-19 has exposed our collective vulnerabilities and made clear that the inequities and injustice that exist throughout society have meant that Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups have been hardest hit. Against the precarious societal backdrop exposed by the pandemic, the destabilizing tragedy of yet another unnecessary and vicious murder of a black man has sparked a sustained uprising around racism, perhaps the largest movement in U.S. history

While the beginning of this year has been full of discomfort and uncertainty, loss and grief, it has also been a time of unprecedented resistance and reckoning. I am optimistic that more of us are beginning to recognize that the symptoms of police brutality and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black Americans are magnifications of white supremacy and virulent anti-Blackness that are present in all of our systems and structures. We know this to be true because of consistently inequitable outcomes within our systems–policing and justicehealthcare (reproductive justice)housingeducationeconomics (wealth gap)environmentlabor, and beyond–for BIPOC communities.

So here we are. Conversations about police brutality, institutional racism, and other sustained inequities have become mainstream. A broader set of society is grappling with the demand to examine their role in upholding white supremacy culture. This feels like progress.The long-term work for all of us, then, is the work enabled by the REACH Fund, to interrogate and upend white supremacy in the policies, practices, and cultures of each of our organizations and systems. It’s becoming clearer in this moment that we are either working to dismantle white supremacy or that we are complicit in sustaining it. 

Now, as always, the work of REACH’s racial equity practitioner grant partners is urgent and integral to addressing systemic racism by supporting organizations’ change processes. An active commitment to transform our institutions is the only way to move Black Lives Matter from a protest chant, a front yard sign, or a one page statement to an actionable value, an integrated ethos, and a lived reality within our organizations, our systems and ultimately our society at large. 

Sincerely,
Ain Bailey, REACH Program Officer

P.S. Please see below for the REACH 2020 Snapshot of how we integrate equity practices into our work.

REACH 2020 Snapshot

The Borealis Racial Equity Initiatives represent three funds: The REACH Fund, the Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund and the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund. The initiative is run by an all-women, Black, Latinx, and Southeast Asian team.

We run the REACH Fund utilizing equitable practices and that commitment is clear in who we invest in and how we partner with grantees.

Investing in BIPOC-led Change: Representation and lived experiences matter.

  • All 14 REACH Fund grantees are organizations or partnerships that are either led by or co-led by Black, Indigenous, and People of color (BIPOC).

  • 12 out of these 14 grantee organizations are headed by BIPOC leadership (with the remaining two organizations headed by black and white partnerships.)

  • 5 of our 14 grantee organizations are Black-led and four of those organizations are led by Black women.

Intersectional Organizing: Our grantee partners work across different issues and movements, and understand that these intersections underscore the connections between our collective liberation. REACH grantees are supporting over 20 grassroots organizations and networks to complete in-depth racial equity organizational development work, including queer and transgender groups, legal aid professionals, environmental justice organizations and movement-organizing groups.

Equitable Grantmaking: We believe in making our grantmaking processes as equitable as possible. Some examples of this practice include providing stipends for declined organizations, choosing grantees with the support of a peer-led Advisory group, and replacing lengthy and often burdensome reports and proposals with interviews and brief surveys.

What We Read, Listened to and Watched This Month

The Case for Funding Black-Led Social Change: Redlining By Another Name: What the Data Says to Move from Rhetoric to Action. Complementary to the report featured in our last StoryLetter, this report designed by ABFE, a philanthropic-serving organization and a Borealis Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund grantee, shares the perspective of leaders of Black-led social change organizations in the United States and U.S. Territories as they describe their interactions with institutional philanthropy. [15M read]

How White Backlash Controls American ProgressThe Atlantic. This is a really great article drawing connection between many civil rights movements and the current political climate, as explicitly evidenced by anti-shelter marches that have occurred in the last few weeks. Starting with the white backlash to Reconstruction era black advancement, backlashes against equality are a pattern in our history and has stark implications for our ability to move forawrd as a nation for all. Honorable Mention: The book, White Rage, also covers this ground in extensive detail. [25M read]

Historical Foundations of Race, National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian. This is a robust and reflective lesson on the construct of race from the perspective of the American experiement. The lesson is grounded in American history and includes reading, videos and personal self-reflection activities throughout. This lesson is part of a larger project, Talking Abourt Race, offered by the amazing National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian and includes resources for educators and parents on understanding and talking about Race. Highly Recommend. [2-3H lesson plan]

Come Through Podcast: Jeff Yang on the Hard Work of Allyship. Journalist Jeff Yang was stunned after experiencing a racist attack at the grocery store. Now, he’s finding himself asking some tough questions about what allyship looks like in the age of Covid-19. He joins Rebecca to reflect on the disturbing trope of the “model minority,” the ways that communities of color continue to be encouraged to work against one another, and how to find solidarity when you’ve become a national target. [39M listen; transcript available]

Discomfort, Anxiety, and Grief: Confronting Racism with Colleagues. At REACH, our cohort has been asking for, and we have been looking at, ways to more explicitly integrate healing justice into the work of racial equity, acknowledging the deep and recurrent trauma that is present when engaging in this work. This podcast, The Anxious Achiever, focuses on mental health and business and this episode unpacks mental health related to racial equity in the current moment. Interview One is great for beginners wanting to understand how to talk about race in the workplace and Section Two is a deep dive for all of us around trauma. [50M listen; transcript available]

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson. This book details the historic white backlash to black progress as a definitive pattern in American history.