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A Call-In to Grow Indigenous Power


Telling the truth about philanthropy is the first step to transforming it for generations to come.

What would it mean to “decolonize” philanthropy? Language matters. As Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang have powerfully argued, “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” and shouldn’t be used to describe anything but fundamentally dismantling white supremacy. That means centering oppressed perspectives, supporting the rematriation of land, redistributing resources, shifting power and decision making, and healing through reckoning. And when it comes to philanthropy, decolonization cannot include coddling white fragility, but must mean truly transforming the ways we go about our business. While we are heartened by the proliferation of “trust-based philanthropy” practices and believe great strides have been made in redefining relationships between philanthropy and BIPOC social justice organizations, we must guard against co-opting and mischaracterizing decolonization within philanthropy and beyond.

Our intention for this piece, therefore, is not to add to the rhetoric, but to invite funders and partners to learn to do this work collaboratively for generations to come. As James Baldwin put it, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

In short, anemic philanthropic and investment partnerships leave too many BIPOC organizations advancing false solutions brought forth by foundations instead of responding to their communities’ most pressing needs.

Here’s how:

1. Disrupt Paternalistic Grantmaking Practices

2. Move More Money

3. Go Beyond the Land Acknowledgment

4. Create Space to Feel

5. Stop Siloing People

6. Put Relationships First and Move at the Speed of Trust

7. Practice Reciprocity and Create Access

To read more of Michael Johnson & Angie Chen's article,  please click here.

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