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Charlottesville: A Reflection on Liberty

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dear Members, Allies & Colleagues:

Liberty is among the central ideals of the United State of America that we take pride in. The reality of how it is achieved depends on your perspective. It seems we are engaging in a battle for the soul of this nation, with reactionary forces mobilized by inflammatory rhetoric geared up for what appears to be their last stand.

There are some who currently believe living in America is a "Zero-Sum" game. If anyone they define as "Other" creates a better life for themselves or their people, it must be coming at a personal cost to them. The events in Charlottesville, VA provide ample evidence that this mindset is extremely popular among more of our fellow citizens than most care to admit, and the danger from it can lead to fatally tragic consequences. Our sympathies ring loud for the loss of life, the injured, their families and loved ones.

Dealing with any crisis involves assessing the dangers, the resources available to overcome or at least minimize the damage, and then getting to work as quickly as possible. Figuring out how to avoid the mess in the first place comes later. We know that people of good will respond to the current crisis, and there will be much crying and gnashing of teeth that dominates discussion in this moment, and rightfully so. Then what? We must have a common language to discuss common problems, especially when public discourse is anything but civil these days. We believe this is where our work can serve a catalyst for positive change.

ABFE is focused on racial equity and inclusion because we believe in the promise that America has made not only to our fellow citizens, but to the whole world. Our Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities Framework (RPBC) provides the common language mentioned above, as well as the tools required for a thorough and objective assessment of the situation on the ground in the communities we serve. This allows us to fulfill a role that is a combination of knowledge broker, diplomat, connector and facilitator, moving the needle incrementally but inexorably toward justice.

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty inspires us to take action that supports the creation of "a more perfect union." Black people and other people of color have earned an honored place at the table, and ABFE takes seriously our role in contributing to the betterment of the nation as equal partners in this grand experiment called democracy.