This past week has been hard. Like so many people across the country, I am overwhelmed with sadness and horror at the murder of nine Black people in Charleston, South Carolina. Funders for LGBTQ Issues stands in solidarity with the congregants of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the communities of Charleston. We mourn for those taken before their time and we extend our deepest sympathies for those left behind.
I could not help but imagine how it would have felt if it had been my church in Stirling, New Jersey, if it had been my family and loved ones who had been attacked, if it had been their prayers and lives that had been ended with such cruel abruptness.
But my church was not attacked, and my church is not a Black church. This recent tragedy is only one in a long line of attacks on Black churches, Black communities, and Black people. The pernicious consequence of these attacks is that when Black communities gather in worship, they must do so with bravery, with the knowledge that they could be the next target. This terror is part of our country’s long legacy of institutionalized racism, which all too often has endorsed anti-Black violence, whether it comes in the form of a lone gunman, an angry mob, or a police officer.
Amidst the sadness, I have also experienced moments of hope and inspiration. At a recent convening of funders, I had the chance to hear from amazing Black organizers working for change across the country, from Ferguson to Baltimore. Every one of them spoke of how Black queer lives–and especially Black trans lives–are under attack, as well. They shared their vision of a movement where all our communities stand in solidarity, of a future where Black communities are empowered, of a world where the lives of all Black people are valued as sacred.
I believe that this is a pivotal moment in the movement for racial justice. Those of us in the funding community now have a unique opportunity to act and to support the inspiring efforts of leaders working for change.
In that spirit, I want to personally invite you to the “Gathering Strength” webinar tomorrow, which will highlight two important national convenings of Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives. Both gatherings take place in July and offer a powerful opportunity for funders interested in having an impact at this crucial moment. The “Gathering Support” webinar is Wednesday, June 24th from 1pm-2:30pm ET, and Funders for LGBTQ Issues is pleased to co-sponsor the webinar with ABFE, AAPIP, EPIP, Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, the George Gund Foundation, NAP, Neighborhood Funders Group, Proteus Fund, Solidaire Network, and Women’s Donor Network.
Amidst our grief, we are inspired by the leadership of our members – such as the Wild Geese Foundation, Hill-Snowdon Foundation, and North Star Fund – who have taken bold steps to support Black communities, from providing travel funds to creating new funding streams for Black-led organizing and intersectional police accountability efforts. Once again, our members leave me feeling optimistic that we can overcome the immense challenges that lie ahead as we work toward social justice for all.
Ben Francisco Maulbeck
President, Funders for LGBTQ Issues