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 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.

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.

October 3, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
After a yearlong process of introspection and conversations with grantee partners, the Surdna Foundation recently announced its refined program strategy, "Radical Imagination for Racial Justice." Read More...
October 1, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
A discussion tool to encourage racial equity in the review and selection process of artists and arts organizations was recently launched to interrogate and apply a racial equity lens to every step of the grantmaking process. Read More...
September 26, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) released recently a report that showcases funding disparities for Latino arts and cultural organizations in Houston, Texas during the period 2010-2015. Read More...
September 5, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
"Centering the voice and leadership of Black folks in driving social change should be a top priority for all foundations and philanthropic organizations working to advance racial equity." Tasha Tucker, program director of Racial Justice Grants & Mission Investing at Trinity Wall Street, pointed that out in a post reflecting on Black Philanthropy Month. Read More...
August 31, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
A year ago, the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund launched the $100 million Art for Justice Fund, a five-year fund that aims to reduce U.S. prison populations. A recent article on the American Nonprofit Academy delves into the initiative's work to reform the criminal justice system. Read More...
August 17, 2018 by Eddie
On Tuesday, August 21, Grantmakers in the Arts will host “Real and Not Real: The history of racialization in the United States,” a webinar by Race Forward, which will serve as foundational for future GIA Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy workshops.Read More...
August 15, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) addressed recently the question, "What does it mean for funders to build power?," as more grantmakers deepen journeys to embed values of equity, diversity, and inclusion into their work. Read More...
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...