“[There is] this narrative of ‘This is not who we are,’ when a lot of us, and I think a lot of folks from marginalized communities – Black, Indigenous folks, etc. – are saying, ‘This is exactly who we are, who we have been.’ I think about it like a twelve step program where you cannot really heal and change if you don’t go through the first step, which is to admit you have a problem, and we just haven’t done that. We as a nation just have not acknowledged that we have a problem here. This is who we are.”
Vu Le of the NonprofitAF blog and formerly Rainer Valley Corps joins host Danielle Holly for the Season 3 premiere of Pro Bono Perspectives. Recorded the day after the violent insurrection on the Capitol, Vu and Danielle discuss how the nonprofit sector can and must be bolder in responding to injustices like this. Philanthropy has become the white moderate Martin Luther King, Jr. famously warned us about in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” and we must get out of our own way if we are to address the true roots of systemic inequity, not just the symptoms.
An expert in nonprofit capacity building, Vu explains that while necessary and widely underfunded, capacity building has actually been harming – not helping – many organizations, especially those that are BIPOC-led. It’s time for an existential crisis in philanthropy, Vu declares. Time to reject harmful funding practices and flawed approaches to capacity building. Time to move beyond sharing power to releasing it so that underrepresented and marginalized groups can take the helm and lead in creating transformational change.
For more of Vu's words of wisdom on the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and CSR, visit his blog, NonprofitAF.com.