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June Wilson, Executive Director emeritus of the Quixote Foundation, reflects on the value of uncovering and examining unconscious bias, shining the light on how other funders can do the same.
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Walking in my neighborhood on a rare rain-free spring day in Seattle, I noticed a rainbow-colored yard sign with the words:
BLACK LIVES MATTER
NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL
LOVE IS LOVE
WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
SCIENCE IS REAL
WATER IS LIFE
INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE
I was moved. Each line a powerful declaration and manifestation of belief. Each line an invitation to contemplate the perspective of others as well as the multiple expressions of myself. I am an African American whose Irish and Choctaw ancestry are known but remain unknowable to me. I am an Artist, Organizer and Philanthropist, practices through which I make a living. I am a Woman, whose roles as mother, daughter, sister and partner, shape the essence from which I make a life. I am a Christian, who loved a Muslim and is now engaged to an Atheist informing the values and moral codes that guide me. These identities and connections inform who I AM and my view of the world.
I believe that as more of us follow the road signs that point “this way to transforming bias,” we will find way stations along the path reassuring and guiding us. Seeing the signs in my neighbors’ yards served as my way station, as did hearing Mitch Landrieu’s speech. They provided a moment to slow down and reflect upon the work I’ve done, the distance I’ve traveled and the journey still ahead. They remind me to ask what else am I missing? What work remains and where do I need help? Who can assist me, who can I assist?
There are signs all around us. Will we heed them and wake up, or just walk by?
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