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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Black Philanthropy Month Is Black Freedom

Special To The Seattle Medium From The Black Future Coop Fund

Kinship. Community. Accountability. Black people have long given our time, talent, and treasure to care for our communities. Black families have always been generous — giving a higher proportion of our incomes than any other racial group.

Though we may not call it philanthropy, giving is embedded in Black culture. It’s foundational to who we are.

This August, a collaboration of Black philanthropic leaders and allies are joining together to uplift the power of Black collective giving with the launch of Black Philanthropy Month in Washington state. It’s an opportunity to demystify philanthropy — recognizing the vital contributions of Black people to shaping societal giving and celebrating our rich legacy of generosity.

Black philanthropy is rooted in West African culture and traditions of communal giving and sharing. These traditions traveled to the United States as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the practice of helping each other was essential to our ancestors’ survival.

For generations, we’ve continued to create ways to take care of our communities in the face of anti-Black racism and violence. To survive the brutality of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow practices, and continued sanctioned violence against our right to exist, Black Americans have given through community churches, fraternal organizations, and neighborhood groups.

For many of us, the Black church is where we first learned about communal and consistent giving, placing dollars in the offering plate and seeing our families tithe a percentage of their income. This commitment added to our sense of belonging and seeing ourselves as a part of a larger community.

Through education and scholarship funds, we’ve forged opportunity pathways for Black children and youth. We’ve funded historically Black colleges and universities and built banking and other businesses after being denied access to learning and financial institutions. And, we’ve organized through Black fraternities and sororities to pool our resources and invest in our communities.

Communal accountability and collective responsibility are at the core of Black philanthropy.

Now, is the time to take stock in our own power to shift our view of Black philanthropy!  Moving toward Black abundance requires intentional, significant investment in Black communities. By coming together, we can collectively strengthen investment in Black well-being.

During Black Philanthropy Month, we shine a light on our Black culture of giving and point toward the future — a future where Black life is valued and we are liberated and free.

To learn more about Black Philanthropy Month and local Black Philanthropy Month activities, please visit https://www.blackfuturewa.org/bpm2021.

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, CEO of Byrd Barr Place; Angela Jones, J.D., director of Washington State Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Michelle Merriweather, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle; and T’wina Nobles, state senator and president and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League founded the Black Future Co-op Fund, our state’s first philanthropy created by and for Black Washingtonians to ignite generational wealth, health, and well-being.

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