Encountering Resistance

Respond (don’t react) to resistance.
Most people who try to advance the cause of racial equity grant making inside their foundations run into resistance at some point. Sometimes the pressures are overt. For example, a woman of color who was introducing a racial equity lens into her foundation’s arts programming recalled meeting with the board members of another foundation. At one point, “one of the trustees leaned over and said, ‘When is this whole multicultural thing going to blow over so we can get back to the business of making good art?'” The question was insulting, she felt, yet she answered with an explanation: “Multiculturalism is a reality. Demographics tell the story. It’s not going to blow over.”

Resist the temptation to stay under the radar.
Given the challenges and complexities of applying a racial equity lens, it’s not surprising that grantmakers may resort to “under the radar” tactics. Although many grantmakers have encountered clear resistance when they tried to address racial equity issues explicitly, more often the pressures were subtler. “Most people don’t actually know what they think on race,” observed an African American philanthropic consultant, “and most foundations think they’ve already got a racial equity lens.” That view can block progress, or it can be an opportunity: “The fact that the foundation says ‘Race is important’ provides real leverage that you can use to move them in a different way.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens.