It just hit me the other day that I am a young, black philanthropist. No, I didn’t just realize I am black. I’ve been pretty sure about that for a while. What dawned on me is how important it is that I am black as a young philanthropist.
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You see, I struggle with the notion of being a young black anything- even though it’s clear that’s what I am. Living in “post racial” America we often get mum when it comes to identifying who we are as it relates to what we do. We feel that we’ve come so far in society that pigeon-holing ourselves to merely be defined by our race is counter-intuitive. Why be the best black stylist when you can be the best stylist? Why be the best black artist when you can be the best artist? Or hey why be the black journalist when you can be the best journalist? These are all fair questions and on another blog, I’d probably argue in favor of it. But on this blog we address giving. And well, the truth is when it comes to giving, there is an underrepresentation of young people of color.
Not only is there an underrepresentation, there is a misconception that we don’t give. That is entirely untrue. While I have called us out for what seems to be an imbalance between bottle popping and civic engagement, believe you me I know we are in the community doing work. Perhaps we’re not out here in large enough numbers to shake things up but that’s sort of why I do what I do- to give us a voice and a face.
I am accepting that my presence at the table of non-profit board governance is necessary. I see that my face at community service days is a welcomed addition. I recognize that my efforts giving collectively through giving circles can be more effective than individual giving. I see that being black matters because the vast majority of the people being served through these organizations look like me(and you)- and the vast majority of everyone behind the scenes don’t. I am realizing that the more young faces of color I see doing community work, the more important it is to recognize them. As the dynamics of what it means to be a philanthropist become clearer to me, I see being black and doing this is a good thing.
What’s also a good thing is that I have an audience that backs up everything I’m saying here on these internets. I’ve been able to tap into a growing constituency of young black professionals seeking to do more and learn how to exactly do it. On what seems to be a daily basis, I meet other young black philanthropists and non-profit leaders who are excited to know there is an online community that exists to celebrate their work. Until recent, I was worried that adding ‘black’ or ‘of color’ to the Friends of Ebonie proposition statement would be too much. Now I know, it’s exactly the right thing to do.
When fellow philanthropist, RaShonda R. asked me to join the March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction Committee, the first thing she said to me was: “I’m the only one there and we need more people.” She is right. My voice, your voice, our collective voices and our presence is necessary in the philanthropic arena. We ought to be proud about it.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself to showcase who we are and what we do, be proud to be the black do-gooder, giver, and yes, philanthropist too.
Here are a few committees and organizations you can be sure to find a few familiar faces:
AND if you’re in the DMV and want to rub shoulders with a couple hundred young black philanthropists, join us on June 30th for the Capital Cause Young Philanthropist Industry Brunch!