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.

February 27, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
California's state arts agency and appointed Arts Council adopted a strategic framework that includes a new mission, vision, and values statements; a racial equity statement; a decision support tool; and a set of aspirations for potential future actions. Read More...
February 21, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
"Diversity, equity, and inclusion are discussed at almost every philanthropic gathering," Keecha Harris and Ali Webb write, "but what action is needed?" Read More...
February 20, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Micah D. Parzen, chief executive officer of the San Diego Museum of Man, reflects on the practice of decolonizing as part of shifting paradigms. In an article published by the American Alliance of Museums, Parzen emphasizes a museum has a part to play in the path to healing "pain and suffering comes in the form of structural racism, colonial legacy, or other forms of oppression." Read More...
February 3, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
"Are you ready to overcome built-in systemic injustices to catalyze transformational lasting change in our communities?" That's the question the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) poses as it presents its new "Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A Practical Guide." Read More...
January 27, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
As part of a series of public talks, The New York Review of Books and David Zwirner Books held in September a discussion about the role of power within the cultural sphere. Read More...
January 17, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership recently launched The Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective, a monthly leadership series. Read More...
January 6, 2020 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
In a video series "Further Together: Helping artists thrive," the Kenneth Rainin Foundation moves forward equity conversations for a better philanthropic field as it asked its leaders to look to the future. Read More...
December 19, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Reflecting on Darren Walker's new book, “From Generosity to Justice: a New Gospel of Wealth,” Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, answered some questions posed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that shed light on the philanthropic field. Read More...
December 16, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Americans for the Arts announced Diving into Racial Equity: The MAP Fund’s Exploration, a case study that delves into the MAP Fund's racial equity in arts and culture grantmaking, its efforts to change practices toward this goal, and how it has activated the framework "Aesthetic Perspectives", to help mitigate bias in proposal review. Read More...
December 9, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Media companies, both legacy and new ones, "still don’t accurately reflect the reality of this country amid our shifting demographics," writes Farai Chideya, program officer in the Creativity and Expressions team at the Ford Foundation, in a recent article. Read More...