We are incensed that Black people and other people of color continue to be murdered by those sworn to protect and serve them. George Floyd was not the first, and we are grimly aware he will not be the last. We are heartbroken that our colleagues, friends, and relatives of color are not okay.
George Floyd’s life always mattered. As did Breonna Taylor’s, Ahmaud Arbery’s, and Tony McDade’s. But what we are all feeling today – what we see in each other’s faces, hear from protestors, and feel in our bones – is about much more than any one person. It’s about the systemic racism that has created unconscionable inequities – day in and day out, year after year – in health care, in child care, in housing, in education.
IFF’s mission is to strengthen nonprofits that are working so hard to ensure all people in all communities have equitable access to these fundamental human rights. But neither IFF, nor our many nonprofit clients and partners, can succeed without focusing explicitly on racial equity.
Nonprofits support communities that are comprised largely of people of color – people who are undervalued and not being served by other systems and institutions that are designed to serve White people. As nonprofits, equity may have always been at the heart of our missions. But it is very clear that we must go beyond our hearts and our intentions, and directly into our programs, our policies, and our ways of thinking about everything we do.
Nonprofits are not alone in the community development ecosystem. Other institutions – in particular, the financial sector – must also engage in this kind of reckoning. We must step beyond what is legally required of us to correct the longstanding systemic bias that has led to the unequal wealth and health of Black communities and other communities of color.
Over the last two years, IFF has committed to a more explicit focus on racial equity. Everyone on our staff is experiencing intense training on anti-racism. A core team is working to execute an action plan that will, among other things, examine our internal and external policies and programs to ensure a grounding in equity and inclusivity. And we start each day in a Courageous Space that begins with Equity in everything we do.
We are far from perfect. But we are committed to always learning, to always doing better, and to always being accountable. As individuals, we must listen, learn, and engage. As an institution, we must work, partner, and fight for justice.
We are rightfully proud of our 32 years of work, but we are humbled by its inadequacy toward the monumental task of advancing justice. Collaboratively with our communities, we must challenge ourselves and our investors to figure out how that work changes so that we don’t spend another 30 years ending up in the same place.
Our communities are resilient. And we have their backs.
Lupe Preston and Joe Neri