Racial Equity

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) is committed to addressing structural inequities and increasing philanthropic and government support for BIPOC 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 through their grantmaking practices as part of an effort for racial justice as a means toward justice for all.

GIA believes that all oppressed groups should benefit from funding. We give primacy to race because racism is the means by which oppressed groups are manipulated into opposing programs that assist them. Therefore, Grantmakers in the Arts’ equity work – including our discussions of support for trans artists, artists with disabilities and for disability arts – is NOT race-exclusive but IS race-explicit. GIA’s vision for the future of our work is to increasingly reveal how the liberation of all oppressed people is interdependent.

GIA has made a strategic decision to foreground racial equity in our work for several reasons:

  • Within other oppressed peoples’ communities (including women, members of the lgbtqi community, people with disabilities, and others), it has been well-documented that people of color still face the worst social outcomes.
  • GIA feels that others’ strategies of combining considerations of race with other considerations too often result in racialized people being pushed into the background or ignored.
  • The U.S.’ creation of race was established to keep oppressed peoples separate.

Unless we articulate our support for racialized peoples, while calling out this separation strategy, we inadvertently reinforce this separation strategy.

Specific themes of our racial equity programming include:

  • The analysis of how funding practices create structural challenges for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)/ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native-American) organizations (Eurocentric quality standards, matching requirements, among others).
  • The impact of these practices, as manifest in racialized disparities in levels of funding.
  • An exploration of the use of coded language to justify racial inequity (i.e. referring to white audiences as “general” or “mainstream,” while organizations of color are “culturally-specific.”

When it comes to self-identifying language, GIA seeks to use terms that communicate our respect. We do not seek to impose language on members of any group. We respect the manner in which anyone prefers to self-identify. When referring to issues of racial equity, “we use the term BIPOC to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context.” We take this explanation and practice from the BIPOC Project.

GIA has also used the racial and ethnic identifiers African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American. We have used African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American – represented using the acronym ALAANA – because we know that many 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.

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

GIA is committed to communicating respectfully. GIA does not ask that anyone self-identify with or use any term other than ones they prefer.

October 20, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

From Nonprofit Quarterly: "I have the privilege of being interviewed by Cyndi for the [piece] 'Pro-Blackness is Aspirational.' I think that a couple of things came up for me when thinking about this one. It was like, how do you talk about the aspiration of pro-Blackness without making people feel like we’re not making any inroads right now? Or feel anxious that it’s interminable, racism is interminable?"

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October 20, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, NDN Collective took part in several events to celebrate and uplift the brilliance and resilience of Indigenous Peoples – participating in Indigenous Peoples’ Day Phoenix Fest in Arizona, the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in New York and opening up pre-sale opportunities for the inaugural issue of the LANDBACK Magazine."

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August 25, 2022 by admin

Throughout this resource hub, we aim to amplify funds and resources that explicitly center Black artists, cultural communities, and experiences. Additionally, we borrow a lens from the BIPOC project1 that centers Black and Indigenous folks - whose experiences shape relationships for all ALAANA/POC people’s relationships with white supremacy culture – as another dimension of resource and financial investment intended to realize justice.

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"Black women philanthropists are essential to the growth of the philanthropic space and yet are often sidelined," said Ophelia Akanjo for Nonprofit Quarterly. "Seemingly, some of the core guiding principles responsible for their philanthropic activism include community building and advancement, leveraging access and equity, religion and faith, and sparking change within their communities and beyond."

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August 1, 2022 by Carmen Graciela Díaz

Black August, born out of Black liberation, resistance, and justice movements, is a month dedicated to critical learning and analysis, reflection and study of our roles in oppressive or liberatory systems, and an opportunity to grow, connect, and prepare for the challenging work ahead.

From the Black Liberation Movement and the Black August Hip Hop Project to“Writing While Black” andhow to fix classical arts, we invite you to join us this month in collective reflection where arts and culture are at the root of justice and liberation. As we are reminded by ABFE, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, “We must be in it for the long haul.”

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July 20, 2022 by Jaime Sharp

"Over the past few years, companies made it their mission to commit to diversifying their boards and fostering a more inclusive culture. But, with women holding just 24% of senior leadership positions globally, and white people making up almost 80% of the American workforce, there is still work to be done," said author Ashton Jackson for Make It Black. "That's why Lybra Clemons, chief diversity, inclusion and belonging officer at Twilio, works to build diverse representation at every level."

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