raceAhead: Aug. 8, 2016

By Ellen McGirt
August 8, 2016

I’m back from vacation, refreshed and filled with gratitude for the work that we’re all doing together. Many thanks to Jeremy Quittner for filling in with such dedication, and as always, to Pamela Kruger for her steady hand.

Last week, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) published a detailed and ambitious policy agenda, with a long list of “demands” that are attempts to match systemic problems with transparent solutions. One subsection of the agenda, “End the War on Black People,” takes on the criminal justice system. Another, “Reparations,” asks for specific remedies from corporate, government, and educational systems for harms related to slavery, and more recently, redlining in housing, education policy, mass incarceration and food insecurity.

The document is strong, clear, detailed and unflinching. And diverse: the movement is led largely by young black women and men, queer people of color and immigrants. The mix is reflected in the language and the issues.

For some, the agenda may help dispel the myth that the movement itself is set on violence. For others, it will confirm their worst fears. But no matter where you sit on the issues, the very existence of the manifesto is a confirmation of the power of distributed leadership, amplified by new technology and organized around a clear cause.

More than 50 organizations have already registered their support, but one, in particular, stands out. The Ford Foundation added their voice to the growing chorus of supporters, in the strongest possible terms.

“That’s why now is the time to stand by and amplify movements rooted in love, compassion, and dignity for all people. Now is the time to call for an end to state violence directed at communities of color. And now is the time to advocate for investment in public services—including but not limited to police reform—together with education, health, and employment in communities and for people that have historically had less opportunity and access to all those things.”

But the foundation is also planning on studying and underwriting what it calls a “new and dynamic form of social justice leadership and infrastructure,” by investing in the Black-Led Movement Fund, (BLMF) a pooled donor fund designed to support the work of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), and led by Borealis Philanthropy.

Here’s some language that would make anyone sit up straighter if they read it in a pitch deck:

“The BLMF’s strategy is supported by two other components: the first is the Blackprint Strategy, a collaborative process underway to identify movement needs and resource priorities to bring $100 million in new resources to the Movement for Black Lives. The Movement Strategy Center’s Blueprint Philanthropies Project is facilitating this effort. The second component is the BLMF Organizational Development Initiative supported by Benedict Consulting and focused on supporting the organizational capacity building needs of a rapidly growing movement.”

 


On Point

Brazilians are slowly, reluctantly, talking about race
The Olympics are being held in one of the most racially-mixed societies in the world, at least according to Brazilians. Race, social power and racial identity is ever top of mind in the country, yet their unique history of colonialism, slavery, dictatorship and social upheaval has created a strange cultural mix of its own: A country deeply divided by race. Is a new “pigmentocracy” dawning?
The Globe and Mail


Movement for Black Lives co-founder speaks out on racism, hope and Trump
It’s worth remembering that many of the solutions offered by the Movement for Black Lives are not new, says co-founder Alicia Garza, largely because racism is a series of well-known  dynamics that have marginalized people for a long time. Tech chatter has helped generate some real awareness, she says. But racism is a system, not people being mean to each other. Unless it’s at a Trump rally: “If Donald Trump is going to be stopped it has to be people who he wants to organize saying, ‘We’re not standing for that.’”
Bloomberg



Task Rabbit CEO on being the “only one” in work and tech
“The story of Task Rabbit is something that everyone can relate to,” begins Stacy Brown-Philpot of growing the business of on-demand home services. But being the lone brown face in a sea of white ones took some getting used to. Brown-Philpot talks about learning how to interact with people who didn’t look like her – moving from primarily black middle and high schools, to mostly white Penn and Wharton, then into business and Silicon Valley. “I have learned just to be who I am,” she says.
Bloomberg


#IndigenousDads dispel stereotype in heartfelt Twitter tribute
In response to a racist cartoon published by a well-known News Corp. cartoonist, hundreds of indigenous Australians have been sharing touching family photos with their fathers, sons, or father-figures on Twitter. The cartoon, which depicted an Aboriginal boy being returned by police to his drunk father who didn’t know his son’s name, created an immediate backlash. And did you know there’s a sci-fi series with an Aboriginal hero called Cleverman? “No(t) only do I know my son’s name, I named a superhero after him,” tweeted series creator Ryan Griffen.
The Guardian


Fortune Unfiltered, a new podcast series
It’s shaping up to be a pretty cool series, if this recent interview with GoDaddy’s Blake Irving is any indication. These weekly, in-depth conversations conducted by award-winning editor Aaron Task promise to dig into the nuts and bolts of transformational leadership.
iTunes


The Woke Leader



A story about race, friendship and the Olympics
We may remember the 1960 Rome Olympics for introducing us to Cassius Clay, but there were two other men, one African American and one Taiwanese-Aboriginal, who thrilled the crowd with their performance in the grueling decathlon. Now largely forgotten, Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang met at UCLA, and called themselves the “two-man United Nations” as they trained together – to ultimately compete with each other. Their struggles began long before the Summer Games, as both men overcame poverty, politics and discrimination to earn their spots on the U.S. team. Bring tissues.
Ozy


Twenty-five years of Clarence Thomas: A review
Dorf on Law, a site run by law professor and U.S. Constitution scholar Michael Dorf, typically offers well-reasoned and accessible gems for legal eagles or armchair judges. This recent contributor post on the 25th anniversary of the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas explores the judge’s history with financial disclosure forms, his near total silence from the bench, his odd hiring practices, and more importantly, his troublesome stance on affirmative action.
Dorf on Law



A new Tumblr of archival material collected from African Americans
The Washington Post has launched a new, crowd-sourced Tumblr series designed to be a “people’s museum” of black history in America.  People are able to submit stories, photos and other artifacts that speak directly to their own lived experiences, many of them are in wonderful, archival condition. It’s still pretty new, but the project is already like flipping through the scrapbook of an extended family you didn’t know you had.
Historically Black


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