ICYMI: What Would Philanthropy Look Like if Black Women Were in Charge?
From Cora Daniels for Chronicle of Philanthropy: For me, it was a mic-drop moment. Morgan Dawson, co-CEO of Threshold Philanthropy, was speaking on a panel about Black women in philanthropy during this year’s Essence Fest, commonly touted as the largest annual gathering of Black women in the nation.
“In philanthropy,” she said, “we often talk about community, but in the way of being better philanthropists, and I wish it was in the context of being better neighbors.”
What would a world look like in which philanthropy considered Black women, girls, and gender-expansive people true neighbors?
Well, for one, it’s unlikely that just $5.48 in philanthropic funding would go to each woman and girl of color in the United States every year, according to a Ms. Foundation study — “pocket change,” as the 2020 report puts it. That report offers the latest data on giving to this group, which itself shows how little time the field spends thinking about the issues and challenges facing women and girls of color. Given the chronic underfunding, however, it’s unlikely that even after 2020’s massive racial justice protests and donor promises to give more, the situation has changed significantly.
My practical reaction to Dawson’s point was this: Here was another time in which a Black woman showed how it’s done. Dawson’s mic-drop moment was simply her response to the first question asking panelists to introduce themselves. If this is how the discussion begins, imagine the potential for philanthropy if the genius of Black women was the model for leadership that the whole field followed.
I dream of the day when philanthropy embraces the leadership lessons of Black women. That includes valuing collective leadership, fearlessly funding advocacy and anything else necessary to tackle structural inequities, and understanding that rest is a powerful act to achieve social change. With thanks to Fred Rogers, what a beautiful day in the neighborhood that would be.