Part of the web: Tracy and Cara on the RG Mentor Program

Cara from a Skype window

by Cara Romanik, RG member

Tracy is always in the same place when we talk:  her study in West Cornwall, Connecticut, at her desktop computer. There is a cherry-colored wall behind her, a bulletin board … Continue reading »

Part III: Taking risks

This post is a part III of a three part blog series and RG campaign, “It Starts Today: Moving $1 Million to Black-Led, Black Liberation Organizing.” Visit our campaign webpage.

Written by Lily Andrews, bex kolins, Jason Rodney, and Jen … Continue reading »

Part II: Reparations are real

This post is a part II of a three part blog series and RG campaign, “It Starts Today: Moving $1 Million to Black-Led, Black Liberation Organizing.” Click here for more info on the campaign.

Written by Lily Andrews, bex kolins, Jason Rodney, and Jen Willsea

(Soundtrack for this post: “There’s Something Wrong With This Picture” by Galactic)

In the Resource Generation community we are going to move $1 million to Black-led organizing for Black liberation by May 20th, 2015. For many of us, this is an act of reparations.

What are reparations?

Image from http://gawker.com/what-reparations-in-america-could-look-like-1633066247

The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) explains that reparations require governments and corporations to apologize and provide material amends for the history of slavery and white supremacy. Beyond this, N’COBRA points out that “all white people have to some extent benefited from slavery and… White Supremacy” and individuals who understand how they have benefited “if acting in good faith, would [also] contribute to reparations funds for use in assisting in the reparations process¹.”

As white wealthy individuals, reparations means redistributing our excess personal money to under-resourced Black communities, as a way to acknowledge and attempt to repair the wealth, land, and knowledge that has been stolen from Black people overall, but that has benefitted us personally². The wealth accumulated in this country, through theft of Black labor, property and dignity, has primarily benefited white communities:

  • The white owning-class produced immense wealth through chattel slavery;

  • In the 1940s and 50s, Social Security and the G.I. Bill built white wealth through privileging white beneficiaries and excluding Black people and people of color³;

  • And, less than a decade ago, Wells Fargo, among other banks, targeted Black communities across the class spectrum for subprime mortgages, essentially writing Black foreclosures into their business-plan4.

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Guilt and Economic Inequality: Reflections on Philanthropy

During the opening plenary at the 2011 Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference, Agnes Gund said (and I’m paraphrasing), “It might not be proper to say, but most of my giving has been motivated by guilt.” Her comment was honest, it was real, and it came from a older women who had clearly done so much thoughtful social change giving in her lifetime. A spontaneous round of applause filled the room.

The comment stuck with me. In the field of philanthropy, where so many of us—myself included—fall into the trap of selling a one-sided image of ourselves as smart, professional, put-together, changing the world, doing good, solving big problems…it seemed to cut through that pretense and get at an unspoken feeling shared by many.

This begs the question: why is Agnes’ philanthropy motivated by guilt? And, considering the applause, why did so many of us in an audience of over 700 people involved in family philanthropy appreciate her comment?

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Two months+ (!?!) after CTTFP

After some necessary prodding from the delightfully persistent Mike G, I am finally posting some reactions I had to Creating Change through Family Philanthropy.  This is partly me calling myself out — one step towards being accountable to myself and others.  But I digress.  That’s not the place to start…

What's your 20/20 vision?

Creating Change through Family Philanthropy was my first formal exposure to RG, and it was a huge eye-opener.  I knew that I would learn, and expected to be challenged in some ways.  What I did not foresee was the sense of empowerment that I would walk away with.

The retreat was structured around creating a ten year vision, but of course the first step to long-term planning is to see the present with clarity and perception.

What I saw when I looked outwards — at those leading discussions, organizing the retreat, participating in the discussions — was energy, commitment, and passion.  This enthusiasm was infectious, enhanced by an atmosphere of openness and trust.  This energy was tempered – and strengthened – by the experiences that others shared of embracing their own humility, facing and overcoming a variety of challenges.  The personal stories, and the sense of resolve that accompanied these, was a source of true inspiration.

But as with any opportunity for serious reflection on personal values, the retreat was perhaps most revealing in terms of what I saw when I looked inwards, reflecting on my own attitudes and actions.  What did I see? (more…)