The Pandemic, George Floyd and Opportunity in America
The last two weeks in America have made clear once again the reality of our country’s racial injustices, past and present, and the deep opportunity gap that persists.
We are sad, angry, reflective and resolute. Our colleagues, neighbors and friends are hurting. The hurt is real. Even if we have not suffered discrimination personally, we simply must recognize that it insidiously diminishes what society could be – a community where all members can flourish.
First, the killing of George Floyd – as well as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other neighbors and citizens – and the ensuing public demonstrations reflect real problems. They remind us again that we have simply not done enough to address deep racial inequities in our country. They are a reflection of deep frustrations and of something broken in our core values.
At the same time, the last three months of pandemic experience have been another acute example of the way troubles in this country impact the least advantaged harder than ever – as COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black and brown communities.
Moreover, the COVID-driven downturn in the economy has hit businesses everywhere, but it has hit black- and brown-owned businesses hardest of all. Already, the number of working African American business owners in the United States has plummeted more than 40 percent, according to the Washington Post, and working Latino-owned businesses have dropped 32 percent, compared to 22 percent for businesses overall.
All of these factors tell us again, we simply have to go deeper in our work to change the story around equity and race. The lived experience of too many in black and brown communities is unacceptable.
The demonstrations are an important reminder that the work of racial equity is nowhere near done. They are a reflection of deep frustrations and of something broken in our core values.
At the DCF, we are committed to lifting up equity issues throughout our work and in our approach. We believe in the goal of the American dream, where all people have real and meaningful opportunity for a sustainable, healthy and happy life.
And while we believe that philanthropy has done much good, we also know that the philanthropic sector – including the DCF – needs to get better. We need to listen, engage, facilitate, support. We must leverage the privilege of our positions to achieve equity.
We set out on this path a few years ago when we started consciously applying an equity lens in all of our grant making and revised our grant making priorities – to focus on equity, youth opportunity and Latino communities. We also convened a Community Equity Cohort – a group of activists and leaders engaged in addressing structural equity issues – to develop a package of recommendations for change in Delaware.
But there is much more to do, and the past two weeks have reminded us that we must work harder.
In the coming weeks and months, we will take several steps. First, we are reconvening our Community Equity Cohort, and we will begin implementing some of their recommendations. We also are revisiting our grant guidelines and programs, to make sure we’re addressing the most critical needs of Delaware’s communities.
Most importantly, and at the same time, we will listen to the community and our allies for other approaches; we will participate in efforts to address our deepest challenges; and we will support efforts that will bring us closer to our collective goal of true racial equity.
We look forward to hearing from you, and learning from you, as we all endeavor to make the changes that are so necessary.