Tag Archive for Social Justice

My Kind of Store: Reach and Teach

Craig Wiesner, co-founder of Reach and Teach, stopped by my blog the other day to offer congratulations on finishing the book, and commenting that Giving Back was the sort of book that fit in well at their store. This was a nice symmetry, since Craig had offered encouragement on the project just as I was starting to get serious about it, when I met him at a party in March 2011.

I interpreted Craig’s comment as an invitation to drop by the store, and I’m glad I did!  I’d been meaning to go before–they make their space available for community events, and some Collaborate For Africa (C4A) meetings have happened there, though somehow, I’d missed going.

While they were flipping through Giving Back, I was looking around at all the great stuff.  I’m mostly drawn to books, so flipped through (and bought) one on community organizing: Beautiful Trouble a how-to, with page-long descriptions of key principles and examples of implementing them.  Turning your old Palm Pilot into one of those “Hairy Dan” palettes with a magnetic stylus that lets you deposit iron filings was one of “62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer”.  They also had a great selection of kids’ books, and toys and games.  I bought a couple of those, too, though don’t want to spoil the surprise of potential recipients by listing them here…  I decided I would leave a couple of things to purchase with my royalties from their sales, plus I had to rush off for dinner, but it was one of my favorite store visits in years!

Community Foundations and funding “Social Justice”

There’s an interesting blog post today “The Big Uneasy” over at White Courtesy Telephone (an occasionally irreverent series of guest blog posts about philanthropy) talking about why Community Foundations shy away from funding Social Justice.  Better than just talking about it, they provided some survey data (surveying community foundation staff members) about it.  While it’s a small sample (57 people), it’s a lot better than one person pontificating.  (And they let you download the survey results, though not the raw data…)

The main concerns are that “social justice” is either too radical or too vague.

  • 57% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement:

“Many CEOs or trustees of community foundations resist social justice philanthropy because they fear alienating donors”

This doesn’t mean that the respondents themselves felt that way.  Indeed, it smacks a bit of “sour grapes” where staff members would like to take a more radical stand, but feel push back from CEO’s or trustees.

They speculate a bit about how improved messaging (a focus on “fairness” and “equality of opportunity”) might clarify the goals and make it more palatable to donors.

As for me, some stats about the inequities that social justice is trying to correct is more compelling than word-smithing a perfect definition.

How about these drawn from “Fourteen Examples of System Racism in the Criminal Justice System”

  • People of color represent half the population of NYC, and 80% of the NYPD stops.  8% of whites who are stopped are frisked, for blacks and Latinos, it’s 85%.
  • In 2004, the American Bar Association reviewed the status of the public defender program and wrote:  “All too often, defendants plead guilty, even if they are innocent, without really understanding their legal rights or what is occurring…The fundamental right to a lawyer that America assumes applies to everyone accused of criminal conduct effectively does not exist in practice for countless people across the US.”
  • “The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported in March 2010 that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes.”