On April 20, 2021, at 4:00 pm, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion meeting about our team goals was canceled. We received a note with the option to gather informally without an agenda as most of us wrestled with our emotions of anxiety, hope, anger, and frustration. Over the last year and a half, our team has been more intentional about our DEI learning and have come to understand the impact of the world around us and how it can carry with us even at work. We have learned that creating safe spaces at work can help during trying times. Although team members might not have the same need, the option to meet informally is one in which anyone can show up and take as much space as they need. At 4:30 pm, we were still waiting to hear the jury’s verdict on Derek Chauvin's trial. There was a sudden stillness in our Zoom call – a moment in which we shared a deep appreciation of our humanity. As the end of the working day came, some team members dropped off but others stayed on. There were four of us remaining at the end. We all absorbed the news with quiet relief while acknowledging that real justice would mean George Floyd being alive.
A year ago, our team would not have been emotionally ready to sit quietly with one another and react on camera to such an announcement. However, the time we have spent together as a team prepared us for this moment. We believe this is part of what dismantling white supremacy culture looks like – disrupting cultural norms and creating avenues where freedom reigns. We saw one another, voiced our concerns, and acknowledged that this is just the beginning of the work.
In times like these, transparency is what matters. SIF is continuously trying to live into our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to examine our internal and external practices, and learn from our mistakes. Most importantly, we will continue to share our learnings and work with nonprofit leaders, funders, and the Greater Boston community at large to demand equity and justice for all.
There is no more room for a “social-justice pause”, where we become complacent with short-term victories such as with this trial. Our hope is that leaders in the philanthropy sector will not stop, but will deepen their work to support leaders of color who champion, uplift, and transform their communities. At the center of this change, is a shared understanding that this work should not be transactional but instead should be based on funders and nonprofit leaders developing authentic relationships. Social justice work merits fairness, opportunity, and patience above all.
With gratitude and appreciation,
The SIF team