What is a Racial Equity Lens?

One grantmaker of color explained, the problem of racial inequity can seem so complex and intractable that it’s hard to imagine how a foundation could address it. Race is a difficult topic to discuss; people avoid it in foundations just as they do in other sectors of society. A white foundation executive put it this way: “My concern,” he said, “is that foundations are not pushed, nor do we push ourselves, hard enough on the issue of racial equity. We stand above the fray when we should be deeply involved in it.”

A racially equitable society would be one in which the distribution of resources, opportunities, and burdens was not determined or predictable by race. A white grantmaker at a Midwestern community foundation translated that vision into practical terms for his region: “When we look in the long term, 20, 30 years down the line, we hope to see no statistical differences in key indicators — such as education, or health, or economic opportunity — based on race.”

As many grantmakers explained it, racial equity grant making begins with a question about objectives: “How are existing racial disparities standing in the way of the goals we seek to fulfill?” Then, perhaps the more challenging and unspoken questions are, “What do we see as the forces behind those disparities? And what forces are perpetuating them?” The questions seem simple, but they often go unasked. Without an explicit line of questioning, solutions may be elusive or incomplete.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft 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.


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