A Program's Call to Dismantle Anti-Black Racism
"For us, racial equity is about creating a society in which opportunities and outcomes for people are not defined on the basis of racial categories. But we go a little bit further than equity, in that we talk about dismantling anti-black racism, aka white supremacy, as an important step toward building a truly just and inclusive society."
Those are some of the thoughts of Kavitha Mediratta, founding executive director of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, a ten-year, $60 million initiative of Atlantic Philanthropies. In an interview in Philanthropy News Digest, she addresses racial equity's place in philanthropy and how this program supports creative leaders dedicated to dismantling racism in both the United States and South Africa.
Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE), according to Mediratta, believes "a just and inclusive society is a world in which everyone has the opportunities they need not only to thrive, but to be seen fully for who they are."
Discussing the program, Mediratta explains:
From the beginning, the program's focus was on the U.S. and South Africa, two countries where Atlantic has a long history of grantmaking, and it was developed with an understanding that issues of structural racism and inequality are not unique to the U.S. or South Africa but are actually global issues, and that by focusing on these two countries, the program might be able to contribute to a global shift in attitudes with respect to these issues, in addition to driving change in the two countries.
The fellows’ role is to propel this mission; the program intends to deepen their understanding of structural racism, particularly emphasizing how it manifests in the emerging global scale.
The fellowship resources and supports participants along their trajectories as leaders and in response to leaders of organizations that are not equitable, Mediratta explains. "Part of what we're trying to do is to ask, 'How can you be the leader you want to be and that the world needs now?' And we think that means being really clear about what your values are and developing the skills needed to build organizations and create interventions that reflect those values."
"Part of what we're trying to do is to ask, 'How can you be the leader you want to be and that the world needs now?' And we think that means being really clear about what your values are and developing the skills needed to build organizations and create interventions that reflect those values."
Advice to funders interested in racial equity work, Mediratta says AFRE does not think that dismantling anti-black racism is the responsibility of black people only. "It's really important that funders, consciously and deliberately, do what they can to create spaces for grantees in diverse communities — black communities and white communities and Latino communities and Asian communities — to tackle these issues and help people understand the connections between racial equity and the work they do."
Image: Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity