The inequities endemic to American society have been painfully amplified by the coronavirus and the disproportionate harm it has wrought on historically marginalized communities and people of color. And it is against this backdrop of sweeping health, economic, and equity threats from COVID-19 that our country has erupted in an overdue reckoning with systemic racism. While protests in response to recent recorded episodes of bigotry, violence, and murder targeting Black people are ongoing—and the reaction this time across industries and regions may feel more widespread—there is an even deeper pain to acknowledge in the fact that there is nothing anomalous about these atrocities; indeed, they have continued to play out over centuries.
PFS stands with our colleagues in philanthropy in support of this joint statement issued by the Association of Black Foundation Executives, or ABFE, a calling for greater commitment and cross-sector collaboration to combat the dual threats of coronavirus and racism. From investing in Black-led organizations and communities, to policy and system reform, to increasing grantmaking payouts, the statement outlines 10 action steps, or “imperatives,” for the philanthropic sector in support of far-reaching change. On behalf of its 66 member signatories, the statement makes clear that “we need deep, transformative institutional change in this country…and all of us in philanthropy must be in it for the long haul.” We at PFS agree.
The journey towards a truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable society must be embraced as a long-term process involving sustained commitment and integrated strategies that attack root problems and advance the work on numerous fronts: personal, institutional, and systemic. The systems, structures, and beliefs that sustain the inequitable distribution of power, rights, and resources are multifaceted, and so too must be our response.