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A Message from the Heart + Immediate Actions to Dismantle Racism

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Dear SCG Community, 


As communities across the country take to the street and risk their lives to fight for justice, SCG stands in solidarity with protestors because Black Lives Matter. We condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. We are acutely aware that our humanity will not be collectively well until we put a stop to the unjust and senseless murders of Black lives. We are challenging ourselves to be better accomplices to the movement of dismantling racism. 

This past week, as I checked in with the SCG team on their wellbeing, I was reminded of my own privilege. As a white woman, I will never be able to truly fathom the pain that Black men, women, and their loved ones are experiencing. What I do understand is fearing for the safety of those you care deeply about, feeling outraged by repeated tragedies, being tired by the lack of deep change, and channeling the power of profound empathy. I join colleagues across the philanthropic sector in inviting you to summon the courage to be fully present in this moment, to re-imagine a different future, and to begin creating a new normal.

In the wake of the coronavirus global pandemic, Black, Latinx, and people of color face compounding effects of inequities. The work required to undo the deep-rooted structural and systemic racism of the past few hundred years is undeniably daunting. At times, we all feel that we are not doing enough. As a sector, we have clearly not done enough to refute the status quo. However, there are steps that we can each take toward being mindful of our privilege, being in community with others, and ultimately creating a future where Black, Indigenous, and people of color are no longer invisible, oppressed, criminalized, excluded, tokenized, weaponized, and erased. 

Please find below a few personal and collective actions that the SCG team has taken and will continue to pursue. As we all prepare for the long fight ahead, I hope you will consider these immediate actions:



Show up as an ally and accomplice in your organization and communities 

Check-in on Black and people of color in your networks, whether it’s your colleagues, board members, grantees, or partners. As a white ally, consider participating in a local Coming to the Table group. Check out six actions that Christine Margiotta, Executive Director of SVP Los Angeles, recommends for white colleagues who are grieving and want to take action. People of color also have a responsibility in allyship. Michelle Kim suggests actions for Asian and Asian Americans. Regardless of how you show up, be mindful and intentional about how you engage with Black peers.


Have difficult conversations

Whether it’s with your family, friends, children, or colleagues, be vulnerable and open to having difficult conversations. Check out embRACE LA’s toolkit to support you in facilitating dialogues about race. Talk to each other over a virtual meal, about a song, or a movie. Reach out to California Conference for Equality and Justice if you need help facilitating internal conversations in your organizations. 


Practice embodiment

Take care of yourselves in whichever ways that are best for you. Consider the practice of embodiment and somatic movement to feel more grounded, present, open, and connected. 


Consider every dollar that you spend an opportunity to make an impact

Looking for food delivery or takeout, support black-owned restaurants in Los Angeles. Check out a directory of various black-owned businesses. As an organization, consider investing in black-led organizations that are at the forefront of the movement; these organizations need not simply one-time investments but continuous support. When selecting vendors, make sure that they have people of color in leadership positions. As part of the philanthropic sector, we must work to close the gap of funding disparity for community-organizations led by people of color. 


Invest in your team

Equity is a learning journey. Make sure that your organizational budget invests in staff training, and that access to these learning opportunities is equitable across the board. At SCG, we’ve worked with numerous experts, including Heather Hackman Consulting Group, California Conference for Equality and Justice, Dr. Bryant Marks of the National Training Institute on Race & Equity, john a. Powell of Othering & Belonging Institute, Philanthropy Initiative for Racial Equity, and The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.


Empower teams to have an impact on your organization’s internal culture and equity commitment

A significant part of SCG’s inclusive culture, equity commitment, internal conversations about race and racism, and various other practices are driven by our staff-led committees. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are interested in empowering your team to be deeply involved in every aspect of holding your organization accountable for your words and actions. 


Name & frame racism

It’s impossible to address what we cannot name. As non-Black allies, it is our duty to learn about the history of systemic racism and the actions we can take against it. Racial Equity Tools provides the fundamentals for you to learn about core concepts, the history of racism and movements, data, and guide to moving a racial justice agenda. Check out Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list to help America transcend its racist heritage. 


Philanthropy must stop being spectators and be committed to something (anything) larger than our own point of view. I and each of us on the SCG team are individually and collectively part of the fight against anti-Blackness and racism, please reach us to any of us should you need support or resources regardless of which role you want to play. As an organization, SCG will host urgent conversations in the next few weeks and share more tools for philanthropy to be part of the movement.

In strength and partnership, 
Christine Essel
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