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.

When referring to issues of racial equity, GIA uses the racial and ethnic identifiers Asian, Latinx, African, Arab, and Native American. GIA does not ask that anyone self-identify with or use any term other than ones they prefer. We use Asian, Latinx, African, 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 term Asian, Latinx, African, 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.

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 Philanthropy 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.

An historical outline of GIA’s recent work in equity is available online, including GIA Reader articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos from past conference keynote sessions.

August 10, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Borealis Philanthropy launched the Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund, a funding effort of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The inaugural round of grants totaling $14 million over three years will support 19 philanthropy-serving organizations committed to advancing racial equity within the sector through research, learning opportunities, and the dissemination of best practices, according to Philanthropy News Digest. Read More...
August 8, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions recently launched a leadership fellowship for CEOs of progressive philanthropic institutions. The fellowship is best suited for philanthropic institutions that already support racial equity and powerbuilding and want to go deeper by building a strong peer group and aligning more towards equity and impact. Read More...
August 1, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
"Racial equity isn't something we do because it's a nice thing to do. It's the core issue out of which everything else we do flows." La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of W.K. Kellogg Foundation, shared that idea in an interview, in which she emphasized how racial equity is a crucial part of the transformation needed to improve the United States. Read More...
July 30, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
"Why do you need a cultural equity statement?" "Isn’t a mission statement enough?" Those are the questions Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director of the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), used to introduce a post in which she lays out how and why QCA developed its cultural equity statement. Read More...
July 17, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) takes pride in its "disruptive philanthropy," a practice of "conscious giving" and a model that starts "with the understanding that institutional and structural racism shapes (arts) funding and produces inequities in resources and opportunities." Read More...
July 12, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Organizations from the public, private, and philanthropic sectors announced recently the Racial Equity Here commitment, an effort to dismantle structural racism in America. Recognizing the need to collectively tackle growing racial disparities, these institutions invite others to join them in taking clear steps to prioritize racial equity in their work. Read More...
May 22, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
"Race is a social construct that has deep societal impact. Our nation’s history of racism has been codified through systems such as slavery, education, and housing — all issues that the social sector seeks to address. As such, the social sector has a mandate to eliminate racism at all levels on which it exists and shift its axis towards race equity." This statement sets the tone and context for a report by Equity in the Center, which tackles how organizations can begin the race equity journey in their respective institutions. Read More...
April 30, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
This May, after five years, the art space 356 Mission in East Los Angeles will be closing its doors. But, as Nonprofit Quarterly wrote citing Hyperallergic, there were mixed reactions to the news. From artists, there was a sadness as they acknowledged the work the space has done for the arts and for its neighbors. And, with a very different reaction from community activists who “applauded the announcement as a victory against developers and the artists and galleries they see as their enablers and collaborators.” Read More...
March 20, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), dedicated to broaden and strengthen existing music engagement offerings in and out of schools and supporting youth-centered, community-based music spaces, released a new study that looks at the landscape of equity in arts funding alongside patterns of exclusionary funding practices which all too regularly confront black and brown arts organizations. Read More...
February 27, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
In a recent blog post, Barry Hessenius, author of the nonprofit arts Barry’s Blog, highlights the importance of increased diversity at the top as a step toward greater funding equity. Racial diversity is not racial equity, but as Hessenius explores, enhancing racial diversity in leadership positions is a step toward increasing racial equity in arts philanthropy. Read More...