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President's Blog: Welcoming a New Administration & the Work Ahead

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Today, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as the President and Vice President of the United States of America. We congratulate them and all of the newly elected officials who will join the 117th United States Congress, including Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who achieved historic victories at the Georgia runoff elections. Ossoff will become the first Jewish Senator elected from the Deep South since Reconstruction, and Warnock will be the first Black U.S. Senator elected from Georgia. 
 

Our Collective Wounds

The incoming administration will usher in a new era of politics and fresh opportunities for the philanthropic sector. But, if we are to take a step forward meaningfully, we must acknowledge the damage that our democracy has suffered during the last administration. Over the past four years, we have all witnessed white supremacy become more emboldened, organized, and intent on harming our communities and our democracy. The last administration stoked these flames by spreading misinformation, elevating hostility, and working to undermine our democratic principles. During the State Capitol attack on January 6, 2020, these forces coalesced and have continued with every new threat of organized violence. Let’s be clear that the attack on the State Capitol was a white supremacist insurrection that was incited by leadership at the highest political levels. This attack was not a random act by a fringe group but rather the latest manifestation of centuries of systemic racism. 
 

Healing Requires Accountability

Even after this tumultuous election and transition period, our new administration calls for unity, healing, and collaboration to repair our polarized country. While we support these sentiments, we also recognize the incredible challenge of undergoing equitable recovery. The healing process necessitates accountability; we must identify those who participated in the insurrection and bring them to justice. History has shown us that failure to denounce and hold violence accountable guarantees that it will rise again. Unity cannot happen if we ignore these atrocities and pretend that white supremacy has been defeated by electing a new administration. This ideology is not a different perspective; it is a poisonous worldview fixated on its dominance and intent to strip others of their dignity, rights, and life. Yes, unity is necessary, but we must unite against white supremacy, injustice, and autocracy. Our unity must be defined by equity, accountability, and mutual respect. 

Healing Is Integral to Racial Justice

This week, we embraced healing at the 2021 National Day of Racial Healing. SCG hosted two programs dedicated to uplifting Black femme practices and knowledge for the long-overdue racial healing needed in this nation. The first program, Keepers of Ancestral Medicine, invited three Black and Afro-Indigenous healers to share what it means to remember, reclaim, integrate, and sustain ancestral medicine as crucial components to racial healing. The second, Emergent Strategy Ideation Workshop, provided an overview of the principles from adrienne maree brown's book needed to harness the power of change, including adaptation, interdependence, transformative justice, and resilience through decentralization. Together, we spent a day in solidarity, taking steps toward healing and repair by elevating community organizers' wisdom and lessons. We encourage you to visit the National Day of Racial Healing website to learn more from healers and changemakers. 
 

An Opportunity for a Bold Agenda

The incoming administration cannot be expected to solve systemic injustice independently. As a sector, it is time to push forward the bold agendas we’ve built and advocated for the last several years. As Judy Belk of the California Wellness Foundation stated in a recent op-ed, “It’s we, the people, who must do the heavy lifting of preserving democracy.” Let’s hold our new elected officials accountable to their promises of justice and reimagine the systems necessary to create an equitable society. Let’s continue to learn from the leadership and wisdom of community and movement leaders who have spent generations working tirelessly to protect our collective humanity and who have always stood bravely against white supremacists. Let’s invest in the immediate and long-term needs of our communities that continue to be devastated by the pandemic. Let’s urge our new administration to adopt a new governance model that prioritizes co-creation and shared leadership. 

SCG looks forward to working with the new administration to advance racial justice and equity. Alongside the philanthropic sector, we are ready to embrace new partnerships, transformative agendas, and a new future. As Amanda Gorman, the first-ever youth poet laureate and former SCG Keynote Speaker, beautifully captured in her poem today, "The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it."


In Partnership,

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

 

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