As a foundation working at the crossroads of wealth and liberation and striving to orient around Black liberation, we must constantly challenge ourselves to think beyond the limitations of “philanthropy.” We often talk about “resourcing” instead to capture the full scope of what it can mean to support social change for justice, from donating money to sharing time, people power, expertise, and more. We do this not only because it’s a word with teeth that improves our work in the present day, but because it opens us up to the many radical Black histories of community care through raising and distributing resources that are buried by mainstream, white-dominant philanthropy’s focus on people with race and class privilege.
Black folks have been engaged in giving, collaborating, and fundraising for the good of their communities and beyond for uncountable centuries. This is abundantly evident today: Black families give the greatest proportion of their wealth to charity of all racial and ethnic groups in the US and are consistently at the forefront of new charitable giving projects. Whether a means of survival in a white supremacist society, a way to honor and pass on spiritual and cultural traditions, or a celebration of achievement through multi-generational care, Black resourcing is a deeply revolutionary practice. In honor of Black History Month, read on for a round up of essays on powerful Black resourcing through history!
The Sweetness of Charity by Maya Angelou, an essay on a person’s relationship to wealth and the multifold, interconnected benefits of giving.
Black Queer People’s Family Structures Are a Blueprint for Revolution by Ciarra Jones. In this essay, Jones discusses the urgent necessity for and overwhelming love of Black LGBTQIA+ spaces, the structure of Ballroom houses, and mutual aid within Black queer communities to explore what the future of revolutionary care structures looks like. “Everyday Black queer people powerfully and masterfully redistribute and reallocate resources in order to selflessly care for the collective. From financial support to hot meals, to housing, to long phone calls providing emotional support, Black queer people drape my life in effervescent joy and love, every day.”
Contrary to Popular Belief, Black Folks Have Been Philanthropists Since the Beginning of Time from NewsOne. This article charts the long history of Black philanthropy in all its forms. Read for powerful quotes from contemporary Black philanthropists like Valaida Fullwood. “The sense of mutuality is high — that’s the old saying, ‘But for the grace of God, go I.’ Your well-being is linked to mine.”
The Collectivist Roots of Madam C.J. Walker’s Philanthropy by Tyrone McKinley Freeman. This essay discusses Walker’s (pictured above) identity beyond that of an entrepreneur, and how all her collectivist identities — washerwoman, churchwoman, club woman, and more — influenced her philanthropy.
Funding Black Joy and Self-Care by Jonathan Cunningham. We couldn’t end this round up without shouting out Jonathan Cunningham and the team behind Seattle Foundation’s Black-led Joy & Wellness Fund which recently granted out $540,000 to 29 Black-led organizations to fund wellness and rest for their staff! This investment in Black rejuvenation is an extraordinary achievement and Black history in the making.
Finally, in the spirit of Black History Month, we urge all of our community to check out this podcast featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones explains, “I started to understand that 1619 was an origin, that it was not just the start of the African presence in the 13 colonies, but that it was an origin of so much that would define America in ways good and bad.” They cover the power of language, particularly in discussions of history, to obscure or clarify, and the right’s revolting attacks on the 1619 Project and broader efforts to teach American history through critical race theory. In the words of our Interim Executive Director Valériana Chikoti-Bandua Estes, “Unfortunately, there is a nation-wide attack and concerted effort to erase Black history, Black stories, Black realities, Black contributions and conversations that involve any sort of traction around Black liberation based efforts. At SJF we are encouraging each other to center Black Joy and want to continue to invite our Donors, Grantees, Community Members, Supporters and Friends to continue to dig deeper toward centering Black-led liberatory efforts and contributions not just during the month of February for Black history Month, but just as a way of life. Please continue to join us, as this civil rights chapter is an invitation for us all to reimagine how abundant we can be in our quest to center an audacious Black liberation based lens!”