Become An Anti-Racist Nonprofit: It’s Time!

Words related to oppression in a wordcloudYou’ve Tried To Hire Black People & Other People of Color

You’re a good person. Your organization is run by good people. And you all are doing some good work. But you can do better. Much better. It’s time to become an anti-racist nonprofit.

You are an all or almost all white staff with an all or almost all white board. You’ve tried to hire black people and other people of color, but they never seem to stick around long. Same with your board. You know the organization isn’t perfect but why can’t you seem to create a diverse staff and board? Your organization has good people who don’t say racist things and believe in equality for all. So what seems to be the problem?

It’s Time To Do The Work For Real

You can hire people of color all you want. They aren’t going to stick around. Same with other marginalized groups. As the saying goes, if you really want to create a more diverse team, hire better white people. That doesn’t mean you need to fire everyone and start over. It means the current team needs to do the work so that when you do hire people of color, they are more likely to be happy working at your organization.

What Does It Mean To Do “The Work?”

Racism and other forms of oppression manifest in two different ways: At the individual level and at the systemic level. That means we need to examine racism as it is expressed and experienced by individuals and how it is a part of systems and power structures that sustain and perpetuate racism. Dismantling each of these manifestations of racism is critical. Doing one without the other greatly diminishes the capacity to become an anti-racist nonprofit.

Why Should Your Organization Become An Anti-Racist Nonprofit?

  • It’s the right thing to do. Nonprofits are in the business of doing good. Organizations should be role models for justice, fairness, and equity.
  • Nonprofits frequently work with marginalized populations.
    • People who haven’t done this work cause serious harm through their words and their deeds. That harm is even more significant when in marginalized communities.
    • Representation matters.
      • As people, we need to see ourselves represented because seeing people who are like us gives us a sense of belonging and of being in the right place.
      • People of a specific identity have a more complete understanding of the implications of having that identity. People of color have experiences that allow them to understand the consequences of actions, language, etc., for them in ways that white people miss. Therefore, it is critical to have those voices represented in decision making to avoid causing harm.
  • The most innovative organizations are those that are represented by diverse voices. Having people from a wide array of life experiences, and thus perspectives, necessarily results in more creativity, imagination, resourcefulness, and inventiveness.

Why Specifically Anti-Racism Instead Of Other Types of Bigotry?

Frequently, this work is called “diversity” or “equity, diversity, and inclusion.” I do this work specifically through an anti-racism lens because it is one of the most complicated and difficult forms of oppression to dismantle. On a crowded table, it is easy for anti-racism efforts to be pushed aside. People gravitate toward doing the easiest tasks first. I utilize an intersectional perspective that incorporates other forms of oppression such as patriarchy/sexism, ableism, classism, and homophobia.

The facilitation I do is suitable for both white people and people of color, since racism is something that impacts both groups. And I am developing a team of partners to ensure that we do this work authentically with people of all races, genders, sexual identities, ages, socioeconomic classes, abilities, and more.

The Team

When doing this work with organizations, I partner with experienced consultants who are people of color. (And I am always looking for more folks who are interested in leading these trainings and workshops with me, particularly those who are part of marginalized groups.)

McKensie Mack-Become an Anti-Racist-HeadshotMcKensie Mack

Polymath is the best word to describe her. McKensie Mack is a writer, comedian, musician, and anti-oppression consultant from the far Southside of Chicago. She both writes and stars in The Monthly Show with McKensie Mack, a late night American talk show and web series about politics, pop culture, and race. An alumna of the University of Chicago, McKensie consults with nonprofit and for profit organizations on anti-oppressive strategies for dismantling systems of disempowerment and writes about the ways anti-blackness shows up in our professional and personal lives, and presents on the ways we perpetuate bias in speech and action. When she is not focusing on consulting work, McKensie co-leads Art+ Feminism, an initiative that addresses the gender gap on Wikipedia by teaching women of all identities and people of all gender expressions how to edit on the platform. She has been featured in such publications as Refinery29, The Establishment, and Artsy. In her free time, she enjoys twirling in her living room with tacos, dabbing to 90s R&B, and participating in high-class meme curation.

Ernie Sanders Headshot Become An Anti-Racist NonprofitErnest Sanders

Ernest Sanders, Founder and Managing Partner for COMEUNITY Based Solutions, is a first generation college graduate and business professional of more than 30 years and has worked on national causes to 1) reduce recidivism and unemployment, 2) enhance literacy, academic enrichment, and wellness in middle and high schools, 3) increase access to healthcare and social services, and 4) promote digital and network excellence in lower income populations.

As an African American male, Ernie continues to share his personal and professional stories of racism and oppression he has faced since his adolescent days. As a former seminarian, Ernie’s foundation was based in accepting people for who they are. When it came to his fellow African Americans, he was frustrated by his struggle to show that same acceptance. However, through counseling, working in low-income communities, and a sheer passion for truth, Ernie began to change his narrative to that of respect for Black lives mattering in the larger story of America’s history.

Specializing in community and economic development activities such as youth workforce development, promoting healthcare equity, civic engagement, team building, and strategic planning, Ernie continues to write grants, participate as a national grant reviewer, and lead a variety of significant projects in Chicago and other U.S. cities. Ernie’s current strategic planning, workforce and socially responsible projects include SOLVE Smart Cities, Banner Center for Alternative Studies, Language Empowers All People (LEAP) and the Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.

In 2014, Ernie was named the University of Chicago’s Community Partner of the Year for his work on the Southside of Chicago encompassing issues such as youth workforce development (MAPSCorps) community-based participatory research, and broadband adoption/use for low-income families. In 2016, Ernie contributed to the University’s MAPSCorps Guidebook. This guidebook is a framework created for the New York State Health Foundation engagement, and is intended to be a tool for those interested in replicating MAPSCorps in their region.

A Sample Of Topics We Can Facilitate For Your Organization

This is not a complete list. If you have other related needs, please let me know.

  • A review of the history and roots of racism in the United States and how that history impacts us and our organizations today
  • An examination of power and systems in the United States, and how racism plays a role in both in the nonprofit sector
  • An exploration of our own ideas about racism and how we have been taught these ideas
  • Designing and implementing a process to begin to dismantle racism within at the organizational level
  • Examining the systems of power at the specific nonprofit and designing and implementing a process to dismantle those systems to create an equitable and inclusive organization

Specific Facilitation, Trainings, & Workshops

Facilitation, training, & workshops are customized for your organization or group. We encourage organizations to include a design and implementation piece to have an actual plan for change.

  • Introductory workshops
    • A few hours or a full day
    • Can be tailored for multiple organizations attending together
    • Can include management, all staff, board, volunteers, or the entire organization
  • Ongoing training and facilitation over time
    •  For long term, sustained change
    • Can be done with organizations at any point in this process from introductory to more advanced
      • An assessment can be done to determine needs and best options for moving forward
  • Strategic planning/capacity building or leadership development through an anti-racism lens
    • Optimal way to get at systems of power and rebuild a more inclusive and equitable organization

What Are The Outcomes For This Work?

(Depending on which service offering is selected)

  • A more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization
  • Greater satisfaction for employees, board, volunteers
    • Includes more equitable and inclusive hiring/board selection/volunteer recruitment, promotions, and overall treatment of all people
  • Greater productivity from staff
  • Increased impact among communities served
  • More effective communication, both internally and externally
  • More effective fundraising
  • A better night’s sleep for everyone involved!

If you are ready for your organization to become an anti-racist nonprofit, contact me today.

I can’t wait to work with you toward creating an anti-racist world.