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.

July 15, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Elizabeth Méndez Berry, Grantmakers in the Arts board member, and Chi-hui Yang make the case for the need for cultural critics of color and discuss the work of the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Ford Foundation's initiative, Critical Minded, amplifying the work of cultural critics of color, in a recent piece published in The New York Times. Read More...
July 11, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
At a time when reparations are subject of debate, the organizers of an Afrofuturist music festival in Detroit neighborhood that will take place in August charged white people twice as much to attend. A backlash followed, as media outlets like The Washington Post reported. Read More...
July 6, 2019 by admin
“Contested Memory” is an essay series I recently wrote for Monument Lab (see http://monumentlab.com/news/2019/2/24/the-rebel-archive). In the first two essays, I drew from a range of theorists and writers to examine how the historical record is constructed through active erasure and probed at the radical potential that imagination holds for charting black cartographies of freedom.Read More...
July 6, 2019 by admin
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become major topics of conversation in arts and culture within the past decade. Studies have shown that there is a marked lack of DEI in all areas of the sector, including audiences, artistic offerings, governing boards, professional staff, and financial support. Compounding this issue is the rapidly changing demographic makeup of the United States; it is estimated that by 2042, people of color will no longer be in the minority.Read More...
July 1, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership (SGDCP), the sister organization to Souls Grown Deep Foundation, recently announced that it is committing $1 million to impact investments as part of Upstart 2.0, an initiative led by Upstart Co-Lab. Read More...
May 29, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing healthy summers and futures for Zuni children in New Mexico. In a three-part series of articles, Indian Giver tells the story of ZYEP "and how it has fostered relationships and leveraged funding to grow from hosting one small camp to becoming an artistic landmark and a formal hub for the Zuni artist community." Read More...
May 21, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
In a recent blog post, Living Cities -a collaborative of foundations and financial institutions working to close racial gaps- shares the lessons they have learned from Racial Equity Here, an initiative that supports five cities committed to improving racial equity. Read More...
May 6, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The educational initiative 400 Years of Inequality is partnering with the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, a grassroots artist network, for a free Citizen Artist Salon on May 16th. This salon, according to the announcement, would explore place-based creative strategies for truth-telling and collective healing. Read More...
April 22, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
After a full day of leading workshops on how to talk about race thoughtfully and deliberately that showed an overrepresentation of employees of color and an underrepresentation of white employees, Ijeoma Oluo shares her thoughts on how "so often the white attendees have decided for themselves what will be discussed, what they will hear, what they will learn." Read More...
March 29, 2019 by admin
Edgar Villanueva. 2018, 217 pages, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Oakland, CA. Edgar Villanueva’s new book, Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, opens with the perfect epigraph from activist, artist, and philanthropist Beyoncé. “If we are going to heal,“ she advises, “let it be glorious.”Read More...