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.

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...
March 29, 2019 by admin
As a society and country, we continue to struggle with the legacy of racism and the structural barriers that have been created to privilege some while oppressing others. Building racial equity and social justice takes dedication, inspiration, honesty, and a willingness to admit and learn from our failures. There are no foolproof guides or programs, nor one right path to achieving racial equity. It becomes a daily practice to question norms and work to make change.Read More...
March 27, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Almost three in four foundations (72 percent) with few or no staff report racial equity as "somewhat" or "very relevant" to their mission, with almost two in five (37 percent) reporting that racial equity was "very relevant" to their work, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2019 Foundation Operations and Management Report. Read More...
February 28, 2019 by Nadia Elokdah
As we come to the close of February, and therefore the close of Black History Month, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the many posts sharing black stories. There have been calls reminding us to celebrate #blackgirlmagic, to speak out the truth that #BlackLivesMatter, and reminders that movements only succeed when we’re all active and engaged. For these reasons, we at GIA commit ourselves to racial equity in our work, our team, and in the field. Read More...
February 15, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Mosaic Network and Fund in The New York Community Trust, a learning network and collaborative fund to support arts and cultural organizations that are led by, created for, and accountable to ALAANA people will kick off in March, announced a post penned by Maurine Knighton and Kerry McCarthy, co-chairs, advisory committee of The Mosaic Network and Fund in The New York Community Trust. Read More...
February 14, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Women of color face systemic obstacles to their advancement over and above the barriers faced by white women and men of color, according to a new report by the Building Movement Project. Read More...
February 11, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Kellogg Foundation's Community Leadership Network, that seeks to promote racial equity and get people involved in the communities where they live, includes in its most recent class from tribal leaders to a dentist, reports The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Read More...
February 5, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Thinking about diverse leaders that need support to climb the leadership ladder and journalists and storytellers of color that deserve more visibility, the Field Foundation launched two new programs, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to help make Chicago more racially equitable. Read More...
January 28, 2019 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
St. Louis’ new Equity Indicators Project responds to "a call to action for a racial equity benchmarking process" that seeks to quantify the state of racial equity in the city and measure progress over time, as the project's page states. Read More...