The grind of movement work takes an extra toll on leaders of color. Through their lived experiences, they are well-acquainted with the same dehumanization and racial trauma that they are committed to eradicating from society. Oftentimes, leaders of color are bearing this emotional, physical, and mental cost—the tax that they pay for their social consciousness—alone. They should not have to drive themselves to sickness or death in the war on racism. Right now, funders can do more than merely applaud their martyrdom by investing in the well-being of leaders of color in seven key ways:

  • Respect the expertise of leaders of color. Racial healers come to this work with a deep understanding of what their communities need, yet institutional philanthropy and policymakers regularly devalue their expertise.
  • Acknowledge the burden they shoulder. Society calls on leaders of color to put their physical and mental health at risk to fix the racism, brutality, and structural inequities they did not create and that should not even exist.
  • Stop racial disparities in funding that further drain leaders of color. Typically, leaders of color receive smaller grants for their programs with greater restrictions. Despite wearing themselves out for the work, their culturally responsive interventions are regularly dismissed, their reporting requirements are more stringent, and their outcomes must be extraordinary.
  • Clear a path to healing with multi-year general operating support. True progress does not happen one program at a time. It is carried out and sustained by organizations and leaders that need your help.
  • Fund for the longevity of leaders. If funders are committed to the sustainability of movements, they must also commit to the sustainability of movement leaders. We urge philanthropy to deprioritize executive skills training programs that situate their work inside of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism.
  • Drive the conversation about the importance of rest. Frontline leaders can only take this conversation so far. Your influence and reach is a necessary component for change.
  • Expedite your action. Now is the time to move swiftly to change harmful and extractive practices commonly seen in institutional philanthropy.

Read the full article about investing in the healing of social justice leaders at Forward Promise.