Introduction

Racism inside your organization and within your organizational team is even more dangerous during major disasters such as Katrina and COVID-19. It is vital that if your organization hasn’t yet prioritized becoming an antiracist organization, then start now.

…When was the last time that leadership served in a direct-service role, serving historically marginalized people… What workload and schedule adjustments are needed to bring the leadership back to reality?

There are several benefits for you as you ride this COVID-19 wave:

  1. Under increased pressure like that during COVID-19, the racism that is experienced by colleagues of color will be more obvious to the white gaze.
  2. Under increased pressure like that during COVID-19, the privileged experiences by while colleagues will be more obvious to the white gaze.
  3. The suffering within your organization can be addressed with small gestures that mean something to the hearts and minds of historically marginalized professionals. Small gestures can be a relief valve, when done right, which can help colleagues of color, like me, make it through another day.
  4. Under increased pressure like that during COVID-19, white colleagues have the opportunity to create more alignment and coherency between the organizational mission and the climate inside the organization.

As Layla Saad recently summarized, ‘Racism is the water we swim in, not the shark we focus on…’ (goop podcast 03/24/3030). If your organization’s mission is focused on community wellbeing and resolving social inequities, the resources in this blog are for you.

…Which of your executive team members fail to humble themselves among juniors of color who offer feedback? Why are these team members threatened by feedback?

Ultimately, the 2 Tips help you to aim for an antiracist organization and maybe you’ll land a mile from it. That is, our nonprofit organizations are part of American culture for which white supremacy is the standard. Our organizations cannot be separate from the historical trauma of racism for which this country is built. So… aim for antiracism and move at a radical speed because you may land near to being an antiracist organization.

Tip 1

Move at a radical speed to transform your organization from a white supremacist to an antiracist organization.

Tip 2

Ask and answer real, hard questions.

Real, Hard Questions

COVID-19 offers more opportunities to see and counter racism in the practices, structures, and climate of your nonprofit organization. Using these questions means answering the questions and taking actions immediately. None of the answers to these questions require an endless number of meetings nor gathering everyone’s opinions. If your aim is to be individually antiracist and to work in an antiracist organization, get busy today. 

1 |  Who in your organization, or team, works directly with people who are most negatively impacted by U.S. historical trauma and oppression?

  • On a regular basis, are these colleagues the most exhausted and burnt out?
  • Is more paid vacation time needed for these employees, employees most impacted by vicarious trauma?

2 |  Does your organization’s leadership team assume that staff and/or volunteers are burnt out because of uncontrollable dynamics such as “time management problems” or “not enough funding”?

  • When was the last time that leadership served in a direct-service role, serving historically marginalized people?
  • What workload and schedule adjustments are needed to bring the leadership back to reality?

3 |  Who gets paid the least in your organization? Are these the staff who actually implement your organization’s mission in the real world?

4 |  What is your organization’s formal and informal definition of “specialist”?

  • Who are deemed the “specialists” inside your team… those paid the most or those actually implementing your organization’s mission in the real world?
  • Who feels the safest to be employed at your organization?
  • How many resources are provided to your “specialists”? Are these mostly coming in the form of privileges for the already privilege or are these practices provided to the historically marginalized?

5 |  Does your organization partner with agencies and funders who do not like antiracist work?

  • Who on your Board of Directors is anti-antiracist… dare we consider who is pro racism?
  • Which of your executive team members fail to humble themselves among juniors of color who offer feedback? Why are these team members threatened by feedback?
  • Do colleagues in your organization change how they talk about social equity, specifically softening chosen vocabulary, in order to make power holders more comfortable? (and I’m not referring to code switching, here)

 

Resources to Support You

Tool: Guide for assessing white supremacy and antiracist tendencies provided by the Catholic Volunteer Network

Book: Me and White Supremacy

Podcast: Good Ancestor Podcast

Lecture: Dr. Robin DiAngelo discusses “White Fragility”

Article: “Confidentiality is the enemy of equity.” 

Article: How Does Racism Show-up in Nonprofit Work?

Blog: “Seeing and Naming Racism in Nonprofit and Public Organizations”