One of my missions is to help change the perception of philanthropy, charity, and community development, especially in inner-city communities. Often, I was fed the narrative that inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Chicago, were suffering because we, as black people had let down our communities. I was taught that we were in charge of our own destinies and that White Flight and urban decay, crumbling commercial buildings from divestment, environmental injustice, heavy policing and mass incarceration was my community’s fault.

A lot of communities have been at the mercy of policies that were meant to degrade, and there is so much wrong with the popular idea that social responsibility, charity, and philanthropy have not been long embedded in black communities to overcome the barriers.

An example that displays community betterment from within the community is the Breakfast Program started by the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA. In an article, “The Black Panthers: Revolutionaries, Free Breakfast Pioneers” in National Geographic, writer Andrea King Collier discusses the success and dismantling of the Breakfast Program.

There are so many stories and faces of philanthropy, charity, and social responsibility counter to what is portrayed in popular culture. While some of the same tropes continue like neglect of poor and communities of color from institutions that should be tasked to ensure equity for all, people are continuing to step up and do necessary work that is not always highlighted above stereotypical narratives. And it is my hope to dig beyond the narratives to celebrate those diverse faces of philanthropy, charity, environmental justice and community development to spark a new generation to value the work of the past and continue to rise above the misconceptions of their communities.

Read the full article about changing the perception of philanthropy in Black communities by Rasheena Fountain at Medium.