Confronting Anti-Blackness in Immigrant Justice Philanthropy

Monday, June 17, 2019
The logo for National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) which features their acronym in lower case letters on the right, their spelled out name below it, and three chart style bars on the left, in blue and gold, with a line running through them arcing downwards.

The philanthropic community that supports immigrant justice has largely overlooked Black immigrant communities and organizations led by Black immigrants. In this Q&A with NCRP, Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), urges funders to confront and overcome this implicit and explicit bias for greater impact.

NCRP: How would you describe philanthropy’s inclusion of and support for the Black immigrant and refugee community?

Daranee Petsod: Very limited. The experiences of Black immigrant and refugee communities are largely absent from the dialogue and strategies of both immigrant rights funders and racial equity funders. Consequently, Black-led immigrant organizations face substantial barriers in securing philanthropic support for their work.

NCRP: Why do you think that’s the case? Many foundations have adopted diversity, equity and inclusion statements and have stated their concern for racial equity – yet these fundamental gaps remain. 

Daranee: Two main reasons: lack of trust and philanthropic silos.

Despite their strong connection to community, Black immigrant leaders experience an external lack of trust in their leadership from funders and others in the immigrant rights movement. Anti-Black racism – whether explicit or implicit, personal or structural – persists due to deep historical roots. In grantmaking, it shows up as concerns about organizational structure, capacity, financial management, qualifications of the leadership and expertise of staff, to name a few.

The siloed structure of philanthropy presents another barrier to funding for Black immigrant organizations. These groups, which naturally work at the intersection of race and immigration, are often told that they neither fit in the immigration portfolio nor under racial equity. Immigration funders need to deepen their understanding of the Black immigrant experience, and racial equity funders need to integrate immigration into their analysis and strategies.

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