By Ashindi Maxton, Co-Director of Donors of Color Network and Donors of Color Action
The pieces all connect. When a police officer can hold his knee on the neck of another human until he dies, it is because there are structures in place to exonerate him before the killing even happens. When Covid-19 comes for our Native, Black, API, and Latinx communities in wildly disproportionate numbers that border on genocide, it is because there are structures in place that have systematically excluded, disadvantaged, and preyed upon us at every level. Political leaders are least accountable to us; health systems are designed to serve us least, last, or not at all; educational inequality means our communities are on the frontlines and most in harm’s way; and when forty million people are thrown out of work and forced to choose between their health or low wage work in high risk conditions, we see that this economy was set up to profit off our lives and our deaths.
But we can save ourselves.
We can re-imagine these structures. We can change the decision-makers- the District Attorneys, the state legislators, the President. We can support and be a part of organizing that levels the playing field and builds justice. We can become the decision-makers, too. Donors of Color is a growing community of people with the resources, access, and influence to shift and completely re-imagine the systems designed against us. As the most directly impacted by the webs of oppression, we have the greatest expertise and insight to envision and chart the path out.
As a cross-racial community, we have the capacity to be tremendously more powerful together within a system whose injustices depend on keeping us apart. As a cross-racial community, we can champion each other’s battles and amplify each other’s vision. We bear witness and share one another’s pain and hold space for one another’s joy, even in dark places. This is a dark place, but the Donors of Color Network is building a powerful force to hold space for our joy and for our progress.
We want to know more about the work you are doing in this moment, how you are feeling, and how this community might support you. Please join our online gatherings. Let us know how we can better support you in connecting to one another.
We are also proud to be offering the Power Fund, our first vehicle for the collective giving of our community. Our goal with the Power Fund is to build the power of communities of color to transform the systems that have failed us- to create accountability to our issues, to influence the decision-makers, to lift up brilliant ideas and strategies that create equity.
The decision-makers for the Power Fund will be an advisory council made up of movement leaders closest to the work we want to support and members of our own community (representatives from the working groups and Board) to make sure our funding strategy reflects the energy and interests of all of you.
The opportunity of this network is to think boldly about the future we can build together and to resource the organizations and leaders we trust most to lead us forward. Our friend Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change, defines power as “the ability to change the rules”. As each day brings us new, devastating news about how our current conditions cannot serve us, we hope you will also hold that these structures - these existing rules - are not permanent. Someone built them and we can change them.
It’s what this community was built to do.