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.

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.

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...
February 24, 2018 by Eddie
This is the first of a series of blog posts Eddie Torres, president and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts, will be writing on arts philanthropy and principles, like racial equity, that drive GIA’s mission.Read More...
February 15, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
Fred Blackwell, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF), recently tackled racial equity after the organization made a bold commitment to racial and economic equity in the Bay Area as a regional anchor. Read More...
February 14, 2018 by Carmen Graciela Díaz
What changes are necessary for the arts sector to foster thriving institutions of color? That is the question that a newly released report posed to New York City–based African, LatinX, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) arts and culture organizations. Jointly commissioned by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The New York Community Trust, a report by Yancey Consulting shapes a conversation on how to do targeting funding for ALAANA-led organizations and questions whether sustainability is a valuable goal. Read More...
February 14, 2018 by admin
The arts and culture sector continues to have conversations on multiple levels about how to advance the causes of equity, inclusion, and diversity. The discussion is not new, but the momentum toward implementing clear action steps is building. A new level of understanding of the ways in which racial and social inequities are the result of complex systemic issues has given rise to a realization that the path to truly effective solutions will require deep, and deeply challenging, institutional change.Read More...
February 14, 2018 by admin
Social movements need the arts. Should we ask tougher questions to optimize their influence? Creative voices, widely and rightfully credited as moving “hearts and mind,” are increasingly understood as playing a core role in speaking to, supporting, or even triggering broader social change. Talented storytellers are disrupting the status quo, fostering new connections, challenging dominant narratives, sharing bold visions for equitable and joyful futures, and creating vehicles for action.Read More...
December 6, 2017 by Monica
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations, have announced the launch of the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF). The multi-year national initiative is aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African-Americans by establishing a grant fund for the protection and restoration of African-American historical sites. From the protection of Shockoe Bottom in Richmond to Fort Huachuca Black Officer’s Club in Arizona, the fund will help to support direct action needed to protect threatened sites of historic significance, address critical funding gaps for the preservation of African-American historic sites, and help uncover hidden stories of African-Americans connected to historic sites across the nation.Read More...