America Is Burning
White people in philanthropy, what is your move?
Ash is falling from the sky in Washington state, where an eerie orange sun glows from behind a gray haze of smoke. Forest fires are raging here and across much of the western United States, while hurricanes bear down on the Southeast. But forests aren’t all that is burning, and city infrastructure isn’t all that is underwater. In a nation still thrashing and struggling to evolve beyond its own rotten foundation of greed, slavery and genocide, our democracy, freedom, and liberty (in whatever small proportions they ever existed) are burning too.
Fire smoke, flood water, Charlottesville, DACA, Sherriff Arpaio, the trans military ban, and the Muslim ban can all be traced to the same source: the hubris of white supremacist conquest and imperialism and its insatiable thirst for total dominance over nature, over people of color, over anyone who is not white, Christian, cisgender, male, and rich. It has been a termite-like force that throughout history has eviscerated all in its path: the buffalo, the ozone, the opportunity and dreams of people of color, along with the humanity of those white people who have allowed it to grind on unimpeded.
America is burning. Given the circumstances, it may seem odd that I, a queer woman of color and child of a first-generation immigrant family, still believe that there are more good people in this country than wicked ones. The question I ask daily is, of these good people with kindness in their hearts, are there more outspoken than silent ones? Are there more activated people than passive ones? Are there more brave ones than cowards? And how long can good people with good in their hearts hide behind passivity and silence before they become wicked by default?
White colleagues in philanthropy, I’m speaking to you…