Sharing Visibly and Broadly

Recent events offer us many opportunities to share what we know more visibly and broadly. Below is my attempt to communicate some of our RC ideas to a non-RC audience. With the visibility of racism in the United States, I wanted to communicate a few things, including

1) anti-Black racism continues and remains a vicious force, despite the successes of individual Black people;

2) it is incorrect for white people to blame Black people for the economic collapse we face;

3) we must not let oppressive forces divide us in any way; all for one, and one for all;

4) Black women experience vicious economic oppression from racism and sexism, despite the incredible gains we have made.

What I wrote appeared in a local newspaper. I have received mostly very positive feedback. People have seemed relieved to hear someone else express points they agree with. They’ve also appreciated that I was willing to share some of my personal story and that of my family—it made it all seem more human and real.

I would love to hear what others of you are learning as you communicate our ideas more widely.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, August 18, 2017:

Take it from me—and my father—anti-white bias is not the problem

My dad had a love-hate relationship with the University of Virginia, where white nationalists marched by the hundreds last weekend.

He took me there whenever we visited his nearby childhood home, to marvel at the Jeffersonian architecture and pristine grounds.

But Jim Crow laws banned my father—who eventually earned his doctorate—from taking even one class at UVA in the 1940s. Instead, he literally took the Chattanooga Choo-Choo [a train that passed through Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, about which a popular U.S. song, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” was written] past the school of his choice to the now-shuttered Morristown College.


In the 1990s, when I got accepted to Northwestern University, a white classmate told me it was because I was black, not because of my 4.3 GPA [grade point average]. Today, many of my younger relatives struggle to even attend—or afford—any college at all, scraping by [barely surviving] on jobs that pay less than $15 an hour.

Yet people inside the U.S. Department of Justice are suggesting the real problem is anti-white bias in affirmative action, one of our nation’s most comprehensive efforts to dismantle systematic, historic and ongoing discrimination against marginalized groups. Forces behind anti-affirmative action lawsuits have begun to position Asian students as the latest group being hurt, rather than helped.

Our government’s plans to investigate discrimination against white students at our nation’s colleges and universities remind me of a familiar narrative: Black people game [manipulate] the system and get an unfair advantage. It’s the latest version of the grossly inaccurate “welfare queen” figure popularized by Ronald Reagan [U.S. president from 1981 to 1989] as a justification for slashing federal safety nets and driving families into poverty. (Linda Taylor identified as white, mixed race, or other heritages but was described as unambiguously black when she was labeled the welfare queen.)

Reality is far more complex.

It’s true that black women represent one of the largest-growing groups of bachelor’s degree recipients, according to the Status of Black Women in the United States report released in June by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

And the number of businesses owned by black women increased 178 percent between 2002 and 2012, the largest increase among women or men.

But even with these gains, black women still experience poverty at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group. On most every economic indicator, race matters. Businesses owned by black women had the lowest average sales per firm among all racial and ethnic groups of women and men, at just under $28,000. And black women’s median annual earnings ($34,000 for full-time, year-round work) lag behind most other women’s and men’s.

As a successful middle-class black professional, I have financially supported relatives to attend college, paid friends’ mortgages, sent care packages to jail, and paid more car notes and phone bills for friends and family members than I can count. I have yet to hear one white friend or colleague share stories like this.

I’m glad to work at an organization that understands this, by investing about 40 percent of its grantmaking dollars last year in organizations supporting black women and girls.

When one group’s educational and economic life improves, we all benefit. Let’s reject the false narrative that pits any group against another.

As Black Philanthropy Month winds down [ends], let us recommit our resources to breaking down barriers that limit opportunities for any group—for the long haul [the long-term future]—so that no one is denied the chance to achieve their full potential.

Alysia Tate

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00