tv Earth Focus LINKTV September 3, 2022 6:00am-6:31am PDT
- vanessa daniel is the founder and executive director of groundswell fund, which is the only national foundation led by women of color and transgender people of color who come directly out of community, labor and electoral organizing. she also founded the groundswell action fund, the largest u.s. institution helping to fund women of color led 501c4 organizations, which also supports a women of color led integrated voter engagement training program. vanessa's and groundswell's work
link the essential realms of reproductive justice, birth justice, midwifery and doula care within a context that addresses power differentials directly, effectively, and for the longterm. groundswell also addresses the rights, health, safety, and leadership of transgender people of color. a former union organizer and long time social justice activist, she is an award-winning innovator in the field of philanthropy. as vanessa and groundswell put it, when women of color lead and win, we all win. - hello bioneers, it's so wonderful to be here with you today. i am excited to share with you some insights and some reflections on how nors and foundations can show up to help movements win. there's really never been a more important time in history
for donors and foundations to give boldly to support social justice movements and to heed the call of grassroots leaders like ashley hendson of the highlander center and the movement for black lives who says to us fund us like you want us to win. the clock is running down on our planet. so winning is not some theoretical political scorecard, it's about whether humanity survives or not. and asomeone who leads a fountion that's trying to heed that call, i'm really excited to dig in and thinking about how we can all do that in philanthropy. but first i want to tend to a really exciting question that bioneers asked each of us as keynote speakers to answer at the top of our talks, which is what the world will look like after we win. so for me, as a queer biracial south asian woman,
as the mother of two black children, here's what the world looks like for me after we win. i wake up and i don't hear the sounds of helicopters in a police state above my head. i go downstairs and i whip up somereakfast with some organic ingredients that i got down the street because i don't live in a food desert. i take my two kids and i drop them at public school where i feel so happy that they're gonna get a world-class education while not being taught to hate their queer family or their blackness. i'm gonna walk home and i'm gonna enjoy the fresh clean air because there's no environmental racism or pollution in my neighborhood. and i feel so much gratitude and reassurance to know that my kids have a planet to inherit because we have replaced fossil els with renewable energy generated through more jobs than coal and gas could have ever created
for our communities. i'm gonna see my wife off to work without worrying that she's gonna be pulled oveby the cops for driving while black. and en she gets to work, i don't have to worry that she's gonna be sexually harassed or paid 60ents on the white man's dollar or be told that shspeaks so well or have becky, the white woman in accounting, try to touch her hair. that night, we're gonna have a party. we're gonna have a party with all of our friends, a dinner party. and we're gonna sit around and talk about how amazing our experience is with the medical system in this country, how great it is to have free quality universal healthcare that covs everything we need from abortion to fertility to birthing care to trans healthcare. and we're not gonna have to talkt all about anyone in our family that's been locked up or been shot by the police because we've ended this militarized state and we've abolished the prison industrial complex. and after dinner, my friends are gonna get home safely whether they're cis or trans or undocumented,
they're not gonna fear from any violence or deportation because we will have dismantled the white supremacist, capitalist, heteronormative patriarchy and replaced it with something beautiful. so that's my vion. that's my vision of the kind of world that we will have once we win. and i don't actually think that it is that utopia or it seems utopian, but i don't think it's out of reh, that i really truly believe that humanity has every single thing that we need to build a better world. we have all the sources that we need to ensure that every single person haenough food, housing, education, medical care, has a planet to inherit. it has opportunity. we have an embarrassment of riches in our social justice movements, assroots leaders who are so clear on how we get there. so i want to think together
about how we support the power of their work. one of the things that we need to do that's so important is to lean into all of this abundance that we have. that we have everything we need to really take that in, bualso to understand that as bob marley sang about in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty. that it can be so easy for us as manity to fall into the great sickness that causes us to turn away from what would save us and to turn towards what has brought us to the brink. it's so tempting to turn towards greed when sharing is what will save us, to turn towards individualism when the collective well-being and the collective good is what will save us. it's so tempting to turn towards the denial when the truth is what will save us orowards addicti and distraction when what ll save us as being here
and present in the moment eugh to feel and empathize with our own pain, the painf other people, the pain of our mother earth. one of the most stunning gifts that humanity has been given and that we must turn towards in order to survive is the leadership of women of color and transgender and gender nonconforming people of color. these are thpeople whose lived their lives withhe sharpest cross-sections of oppression and as a result have developed this superpower, this adaptive ability to see the world with what i call a 360 degree vision. 360 degree vision is about the ability to see and to tackle any issue with an intersectional lens that dismantles ite supremacy, patriarchy, extractive capitalism, and colonialism simultaneously. 360 vision reveals the solution to any issue that it examines. so for examplewe could take the issue of g control.
through that lens, we see that banning assault rifles is good, but it's not enough when the majority of mass shootings are carried out by white men with a history of battering women and white nationalism th we have to dismantle white supremacy and toxic masculity in this country. the for youth of color who are living in this pressure cooker of poverty and police brutality and deportations that we have got to demilitarize our communities in order to abate... see gun violence abate we can look at the issue of climate change through that lens and understand that strategies of parts per billion carbon reduction are insufficient that we reallyeed a just transition that's grounded in the wisdom of native environmental protectors, grounded in the health and the well-being and jobs for people who are in frontline communities, but that what's needed to save and to come back into right relationship with our planet. and we can turn th lens on reproductive freedom in this country and understand
that the legal right to access abortion is so critically important, but it's notnough when millions of people can't access that right because they're poor or because they're immigrant or transgender, that we have to expand accs, pand pubc funding for abortion. but that alone is not enough that we also have to end the violence that's happening to communities that's preventing people from having kids. environmental pollution that's causing poor reproductive health outcomes, mass incarceration, discrimination in our medical systems and those types of forces. so in every single social justice movement, there are a set of organizations with this kind of lens and overwhelmingly they're led by women of color and transgender and gender nonconforming people of color and they're like bright flashlights. they're shining a light on the way freedom for all of us.
and so we all benefit when they're able to shine the light brighter and funders and dors have a role to play inupporting them to do that. i lead two public foundations. one is groundswell fund, which is a01c3 and the other is groundswell action fund which is a 5c4. they are both a granexperiments in buiing beloved community across race, class, and gender. we have 500, mostly white women, individual donors and 40 private foundations who are giving to us resources that we will distributeo the grassrts. but the people who decide where the resources go, the people who created and run groundswell, we are women ocolor and transgender people of color who come out of grassroots organizing. and because we decide, we have created a irrigation system for movement over the last 10 years that now moves those resources to 150 organizations that are doing intersectional organizing
and that are mostly led by women of color with a particular focus on folks who are black, indigenous and transgender. we're so proud to have built this community. it hasn't been easy, it's a very diverse ecosystem. people from all walks of life, we skin our needs together, we all tackle our learning curves together, but together we've been able to do something that i feel like as a crocosm of a kind of multiracial solidarity anunity th's needed in our society at large. and we've been able to accomplish some things we're proud of, moving over $65 million to the field, including early support for many of the organizations that were so critical in stas like georgia, arizona, and pennsylvania to this election. so we're different, but what unites us as a community is one thing. we believe that the full truth is important. and we believe that human bein as a species will neither realize freedom or survive
if we tell half-truths. if we tell the truth about climate change, but deny the existence of priarchy. if we tell the truth about capitalism, but ny the impact of white supremacy. if we tell the truth about lgbtq rights, but deny the caustic effects of xenophobia. we must tell the whole truth and that work begins by lifting up the truth tellers, the people who are brave enough to break the spell of denial that so ny progressive movements have been under and are keeping us from winning. so from our project groundell, there are two lessons in particular that i want to share with our donor and foundation colleagues, both of which i think are really exempfied in the election that we just witnessed. so lesson numb one is this: the way all people get to fedom is by following e people who know the way. it was latinx and native people who flipped arizona
when other people thought it was impossible. one of our grantees, lucia, together with their coalitiopartners knocked on 1.5 million doors. ey registered 200,000 people to vote. their executive director shared with us through tears after the election what it was like to see people coming back day after day to canvas voters after burying loved ones to covi after and i get emotional talking about it, like after losing jobs in this economic environment, being cramped multiple families and single apartments, coming back day after day to reach out to voters. it's stunninthat the navajo nation, the community that was most impacted by covid, turned out at an inedible 89% to vote. api people in pennsylvania made 1.3 milli calls to people in 10 languages, voters who have been ignored
by so many other electoral operations and black women, the backbone of our democracy, the vanguard of social justice movements, who led the way as usual in voting down hate from coast to coast who believed geoia could be a swing state who even after the theft of the governorship from stacey abrams through horrendous voter suppression two years ago cked themselves back up and through sheer grit and determination, fighting for their lives and the lives of their children made a way for their state and for our country. so there's a reckoning here for those ofs in philanthropy. what does it mean when the political and moral clarity of black women is unparalleled by any other group in this country and yet they're one of the least funded groups? what does it mean when native people were responsible for the margin of victory in so many states
d are largely invisible to electoral donors? the margin of victory that people of color created in this election with women of color at the helm is not identity politics, it's math. and now there e white led groups out there who are doing excellent work. they're partnering brilliantly with communities of color and modeling, building the kind of multi-racial coalitions that were ultimately necessary to win this election and that will be necessary to carry us forward. they're worthy of funding, we should support them. and in fact, groundswell pports many of them. we can hold that while also holding the importanquestion. what does it mean for the hope of freedom for all of us when the majority of philanthroc dollars continue to go to white people and organizations led by white people? when white women voted an even larger proportion for trump after four years of seeing what he was capable of. when white men who are responsible for leading us
into pretty much every disaster that we are in as a country and as planet who supported putting trump back in the white house more than any other group, who suppted more than any other group putting a rapist on our supreme court when that is the group that receives the vast majority of philanthropic resources. what does it mean when donor think the electoral playbook that most white liberal organizations use is the one that works. this election was a total repudiation of the conventional voter engagement playbook and by extension, most of the philanthropic dollars that support it. e victory against trump occurred in spite of, not because of dollars wasted on targeting white swing voters, on parachuting gotb infrastructure into state six weeks before an election with a plan to pull it rit out the day after, in spite of millions of dollars spent on ads to project messages that were polled
and tested and found to be safe with voters. it was a victory won by organizers of color, particularly black women who had the good sense to throw that playbook out and organize in the way that ty know works. building relationships wi voters year round, year after year on the issues that their comnities care about using bold messages that really resonate withheir people. and most of all, they're tackling problems in an intersectional way. so all of these questions that i'm asking about how philanthropy shows up, these are no rhetorical questions. they're estions that each of us have to ask about our portfolios and when we look at our list of grantees. so lesson number one, agai is support, fu, follow the people who know the way. lesson number two is open the flood gates. maurice mitcll of the workinfamilies party and the movement for black lives says it so beautifully. he says biden is a doorway, not a destination.
when obama won, progressives took our foot off the gas. we mistook accesfor power. we mistook represention for power. we made a mistake and we missed an opportunity and we can't afford to do at again. there's no more time that's been added to the clock of the planet, to the reproductive freem of women, of trans and gender nonconforming people in this country, to the possibility of our democracy. time is running out. movements cannot downshift. theyave to flo it with bold publ pressure for decisive action on climate change, on racial gender and economic justice and funders and donors, we have show up d open full throttle with the scaf resources required to allow them to do that. our imagination and our giving can not be calibrated to what's possible and ems radical relative to the very low bar that we've been at.
it must be calibrated to the bar that we have to reach to save our planet. so with that, we need to ditch the pout. we nd to spend down. we need to cut the red tape to make it easier for grantees to apply for funding. we need to stretch beyond 501c3 vocals to support people of color led 501c4's and political packs that are rooted anorganizing year round in their commuties. we need to be prepared to ignore financial advisers whethey tell us and they inevitably will tell us that it's time to pull back because there's a recession coming. we need to understand that they may have a myopic fixation on the stock market, but we see a bigger picture about saving our planet and the window of time in wch we have to do it. we need to be prepared to tell them there's no such thing as a rainy day fund because the rainy day isow. so in closing, i just want to remind us it's an opportunity that we have now. fund to the people who know the way to freedom,
open the flood gates for flexible general support, ongoing funding to deep organizing led by ople of color and particulay women of color, transgender d gender nonconforming people of color. there's no one coming to save us. every one of uwho's alive now who's able to take action, we are the team on the field. there's no guarantee that in 30 years, someuture generation is gonna have the time left on the clockf the plet to do what we were too afraid to do, to be bold where we were timid, to act where we hesitated. this is our mont. this is it. this is our shot. let's be brave and make it count.