Giving Compass' Take:

• Negotiating race in cross-sector collective impact spaces requires careful navigation. Tabitha Bentley, writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, discusses how these negotiations impact the outcomes of change-making organizations.  

• How can diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts help organizations understand more about race, racial divides, and the relationship to social change work?

• Read about how to be a better ally and why it matters. 

In 2016, when I started researching the successes and failures of cross-sector partnerships like My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), I chose not to foreground race.

That was a mistake.

I quickly learned that race and what I call racial negotiation—the leveraging of the power of race to achieve a goal—are at the crux of collective-action efforts aiming to address deep societal inequities.

We must account for this dynamic in our change-making endeavors or risk failing to achieve the ultimate transformation needed to undo systemic inequities: the acknowledgment and eradication of racism.

Fortunately, my investigation into cross-sector initiatives also uncovered patterns that can help guide us toward this goal.

I studied Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PJU), PUSH Excel, Promise Neighborhoods, Project QUEST, and an MBK community in a large midwestern county (to be referred to in this article as “Highland County MBK”). They all are examples of collective efforts taking on large social problems involving communities of color, such as inequity in education.

In every case, stakeholders negotiated race and power to garner individual and organizational commitments, and these negotiations played a critical role in how participants and leaders engaged in change-making work and the outcomes they experienced. Two patterns emerged, the second of which provided tactics that promoted more success when trying to address systemic social inequities.

  1. Emphasizing White Interest-Convergence White interest-convergence describes a process of change in communities of color that aligns with the economic and sociopolitical interests of white elites.
  2. Emphasizing Racism, Race, and Communities of Color The more successful organizations embraced conversations and actions that centered racism and race. Their strategies privileged the voice, needs, desires, and values of communities of color.

Read the full article about negotiating race in cross-sector spaces by Tabitha Bentley at Stanford Social Innovation Review.