Giving Compass' Take:

•  Kyoko Uchida at PhilanTopic interviewed Lateefah Simon, president of the Akonadi Foundation, an organization that aims to dismantle structural racism. 

• Simon talks about the significance of working on racial justice issues in a local context. What are some differences in doing movement-building work locally, rather than addressing the broader systems that create racial injustice? 

• Read more about how philanthropy can support racial equity. 

At 40, Lateefah Simon has spent more than half her life as a civil rights advocate and racial justice leader. She was a 17-year-old mother when she went to work for the Center for Young Women's Development and was just 19 when she became the organization's executive director. In the years that followed, she helped position the center as a national leader in the movement to empower young women of color — an achievement for which she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. 

In 2016, Simon became the second president of Akonadi Foundation, whose mission is "to eliminate structural racism that leads to inequity in the United States." Philanthropy News Digest recently spoke with her.

PND: The Akonadi Foundation, which is headquartered in Oakland, is focused on "building a localized racial justice movement." Why is it important for the racial justice movement to act locally?

Lateefah Simon: What those of us in philanthropy and those working on the ground doing movement-building work know is that many of the racialized policies that have divided communities, from juvenile justice to local policing to school policies, have taken place on the municipal level. We also know that our efforts have to be extremely strategic to undo these policies — for example, the disproportionate overuse of school suspensions and expulsions against black and brown students that has been standard policy for many, many years.

To create racial justice in our communities, we have to go deep — to the source, where the policies come from, and also to the culture.

Read the full article on racial justice by Kyoko Uchida at PhilanTopic