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“Our only hope for our collective liberation is a politics of deep solidarity rooted in love. In recent days, we’ve seen what it looks like when people of all races, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds rise up together, standing in solidarity for justice, protesting, marching and singing together, even as SWAT teams and tanks roll in. We’ve seen our faces in another American mirror — a reflection of the best of who we are and what we can become. These images may not have dominated the media coverage, but I’ve glimpsed in a foggy mirror scenes of a beautiful, courageous nation struggling to be born.” Michelle Alexander
We’re writing to you at the end of this year with both deep grief and sincere gratitude.
The uprisings of this summer demanding justice for Black lives, the racial disparities in COVID-related deaths, and the Presidential election results affirm something we’ve long known to be true–white supremacy is a rampant crisis.
Our gratitude is for leaders who tell the truth about the violent consequences of racial injustice on Black people and the many individuals, collectives, and organizations who love and labor to create another world.
Tzedek is especially paying attention to what is happening locally, and listening deeply to calls for action originating from Black leadership in Asheville. It is essential that organizations that say “Black Lives Matter” move beyond words to action. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, here are some actions that we are undertaking as we labor towards a world without white supremacy.
- In our organizational grantmaking, we are distributing more financial and non-financial resources to Black communities. Through our Impact Awards program, we are acknowledging and directing more grantmaking dollars to honor the past achievements of leaders of color working to advance social justice in Asheville. Through our mission, specifically our focus on systems change and community healing, we will deepen our support for the brilliance of Black leadership and Black-led work while funding those that seek to interrupt and transform policies and systems that harm Black people.
- For most of its organizational history, Tzedek has been a white led and staffed organization. Who is in leadership and who has power to make decisions is changing. In January 2021, Marsha Davis will transition into the Executive Director role, and we are welcoming our first Board of Trustees composed of Asheville leaders and chaired by Desiree Adaway. These shifts mean that two Black women will be at the forefront of Tzedek’s leadership. Additionally, we are hiring a new staff member into a Director role and have built hiring practices that center lived experience navigating systems of oppression as a form of expertise. Our approach to staffing and board development is a concrete way to redistribute power and center leaders of color at Tzedek.
- We have and will continue to advocate with other funders to build grantmaking processes that are built for emerging and grassroots organizations. Additionally as a part of our commitment to center and resource impacted people in each of our focal areas, we have shifted our grantmaking processes to ensure that Tzedek funds racial justice work led by people of color.
- We are deepening our learning and unlearning by participating in anti-racist learning circles, funder collaboratives that center racial and LGBTQ justice, and offerings from Spiral of Transformative Change, Equity at Work, and the Keep it Moving Coalition.
- Tzedek staff are living into our personal commitment to racial justice outside of our work time–activating our networks to speak up and take action, engaging in intentional conversations with our families, volunteering our skills in communications, facilitation, and grant writing to support the efforts of Asheville organizations that are leading local racial justice efforts.
- Finally, we are paying attention to Black leadership in Asheville, including the following efforts:
- Black Asheville Demands crafted by an intergenerational collective of Black Leaders
- Racial Justice Coalition, a grassroots alliance advocating and acting for systemic racism
- CoThinkk’s demands for personal learning, organizational investment, and systemic change
These are necessary steps, but we are not done. Tzedek will continue to ask ourselves about what is ours to do, while holding that unraveling white supremacy is the most crucial work of our time.