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Black Caucus highlights disparages and suggests philanthropic solutions

Resource type: News

The Royal Gazette (Bermuda) |

Original Source By Robyn Skinner The community’s health can be gauged by how black men and boys are doing and philanthropic organisations need to understand why there are still barriers to helping them. That’s why last week a group of leaders in their fields met under the umbrella of The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) and their Funder’s Caucus. ABFE was established in 1971 by forward-thinking Black Foundation executives to promote effective and responsive philanthropy in black communities. Helping to pull it together for only the second year it has ever met was Rashaan Harris, who is also a programming executive for Atlantic Philanthropies, which gives numerous grants to Bermudian charities every year. This year the three days of meetings at XL House focused on the theme “racial equity and inclusion” by looking at the plight of black men and boys and also engaging black money managers in the cycle of wealth creation and philanthropy. Mr. Harris explained that in light of the violence on the Island their discussions were particularly important and he stressed that the community’s health can be gauged by the black men and boys. He said: “Since I am in the unique position of making grants for Bermuda cases, but I am from the U.S., so I saw it as a unique opportunity to bring funders from the US to discuss issues with Bermudians. “Through ABFE, and since Bermuda is so close, it was a great cross-pollination. Black men and boys are for volunteers the canary in the mine shaft, so to speak. “If there’s something wrong with systems, community health can be graded by how they are doing. “We look at how organisations can do their work to address issues such as black men and boys. Historically there have been barriers to helping different communities, we want to understand what some of the barriers are.” In order to include black communities and those of other backgrounds, according to Mr. Harris, more needs to be done to make changes at the system level. Mr. Harris added: “When we talk about education for example we need the depth to understand how the problems affect the different populations. “How do boys and girls differ? There needs to be a way to address a matter that’s not gender blind. We also need to not have a colour blind perspective because sometimes those engineer disparities. “There’s a gender compliment as well there’s a race compliment. Class definitely has a role, but talking about class is not enough. “How wealth is built has a racial component because in the history of the US with slavery and segregation, black families were not able to pass wealth on compared to a white family who could build on it. “It’s (the conference) about taking it to a systems level so you can have conversations that don’t put blame but asks what can we do as a community to do better.” That’s exactly what Stacey Easterling, programming executive for US ageing for Atlantic Philanthropies, hopes to do by creating a language to explain minority elders involved in volunteer work or as she calls it “civic engagement” which is an area that is becoming more relevant in the US as baby-boomers retire. Yet, Mrs. Easterling said, the black and minorities while involved in their communities are not as involved at the organisation level. “Look at those barriers and why are they there? Have we looked at it in another way and then look at those and address those,” she said. “And grant givers need to have a different framework. There’s a movement in the States and in general looking to develop that population and get them more involved in the community. “They (minority elders) are involved in their communities but in unofficial ways. How can these older adults be involved in changing their communities? That’s different then how we viewed them in the past. “They (minority elders) have systems in place that are not as formal what are and how do we support them?” Many Bermudian organisations were there as part of the discussion including Otero Smith, president of the OC Foundation, who said the meetings have been really helpful to highlight what resources the Island already has but needs to tap into. “I think a lot of the ideas that were presented by international guests are ideas we can take and learn from. “We are doing similar things and there are opportunities that we haven’t tapped into. “He gave the example of the Rights of Passage, which he said was a good way for black Bermudians to learn where they had come from and what they had accomplished in the past. “It was instilling a sense of worth when you know historically you positively contributed before. Not the view that we are this and to be anything other than this is an exception.”

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