Racial Equity

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is committed to addressing structural inequities and increasing philanthropic and government support for African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) artists and arts organizations. Racial equity is a lens through which GIA aims to conduct all of its work, as well as a specific area of its programming.

Since 2008, GIA has been elevating racial equity as a critical issue affecting the field. To actualize this work within the sector, GIA published its Racial Equity in Arts Funding Statement of Purpose in 2015. Through webinars, articles, convenings, and conference sessions, GIA provides training and information to support arts funders in addressing historic and structural inequity.

When referring to issues of racial equity, GIA uses the racial and ethnic identifiers African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American. GIA does not ask that anyone self-identify with or use any term other than ones they prefer. We use African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American – represented using the acronym ALAANA – because we believe the term, “people of color,” conflates together entire groups of people and as a contrast to white. This results in a continued centering of whiteness as the norm and the standard from which other identities deviate.

Similarly, GIA does not refer to organizations that are founded by, led by, and feature the work of ALAANA communities as “culturally-specific,” as we believe this term also centers whiteness as the norm from which other organizations deviate.

The term “ALANA” emerged from institutions of higher learning. Dr. Donald Brown, director of the Office of AHANA Student Programs at Boston College, developed the acronym which now is used at over 50 colleges and universities including Brown, Vassar, and Colgate.

“The term AHANA [ALANA] is not degrading, inaccurate, or stereotypical,” stated several undergraduate students to the Boston College Board of Trustees in 1978. “It is creative, unique, and symbolic of pride. AHANA [ALANA] was not developed to segregate its members from the remainder of the Campus community. It was developed to unite its members for the good of all and to inspire cultural awareness and destroy the void among students of different racial backgrounds. We do not want to feel ‘minor’.” The students argued that “minority” was an offensive and unacceptable term when applied to people of color.

At Canisius College, with the substitution of "Latino/a" for Hispanic, AHANA became ALANA. This change resulted from the fact that many people consider themselves Latinx rather than Hispanic. In the 2000s, GIA added a fourth “A” to include Arab Americans.

Our hope is that the terminology African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) is received as naming and honoring every racialized group in the U.S. GIA recognizes that no terms are perfect. We do not seek to impose language on members of any group and respect the manner in which anyone prefers to self-identify.

November 4, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Ben Hecht, president & CEO of Living Cities, a collective of 19 of the world’s wealthiest philanthropic and financial institutions, writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy of their journey "to embed racial equity in our culture, which means becoming more accountable to the communities we serve and addressing the root causes of inequality." Read More...
November 3, 2019 by admin
Whose land do we stand on, legacies erased? Aho, can we heal this reality as philanthropy claims new legacies? A sleepwalking sector— moving at a glacier paceRead More...
November 3, 2019 by admin
I am honored to have this opportunity to interview Gary Steuer, president and CEO of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Gary is a respected colleague, a member of Grantmakers in the Arts’ board of directors, and co-chair of the GIA Denver Conference Planning Committee for the upcoming annual conference. I am pleased to note that Bonfils-Stanton has been embracing equity in their support of Denver’s nonprofit community, including its arts organizations.Read More...
November 3, 2019 by admin
Consider downloading RE-Tool so you can follow along as you read this article. Many of the topics in this article refer directly to RE-Tool, including specific page references.Read More...
October 7, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Philanthropy has a crucial role in supporting arts and culture organizations to address inequities at the community level, write Kerry McCarthy, vice president for philanthropic initiatives for The New York Community Trust, and Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, in Stanford Social Innovation Review. Read More...
October 3, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
A cultural nonprofit that supports visual artists in Chicago, Threewalls, announced that it will award $900,000 to artists who identify as African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA), according to Artforum. The initiative was launched after Threewalls received $1.2 million from the Surdna Foundation. Read More...
September 18, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Boots Riley, the Oakland filmmaker, musician, and activist who wrote and directed the satire Sorry to Bother You believes in making art "that makes people understand that they have the power to change things…that’s what you can do with narrative.” Read More...
September 16, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Marcus Walton, the new president and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), previous co-director of Racial Equity Initiatives (REI) at Borealis Philanthropy, reflected recently on some of the learnings from his work at Borealis that he hopes to bring with him to GEO. Read More...
September 11, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Corporate leaders, explains an article in Harvard Business Review, "need to focus on diversity and inclusion efforts that take an intersectional approach to identify barriers that women of color face, due to the impact of their race and gender." Read More...
August 29, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Blanket Exercise, led by Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), is "a participatory simulation that teaches about Native people, the colonization of their land, and its consequences, and how oppression continues today," as Jen Bokoff, director of Stakeholder Engagement at Candid, reflected in an article published in Alliance Magazine, after participating in one session. The blankets, as she describes, represent Turtle Island (North America), while a time lapse of stolen land loops on screen. Read More...