Black Lives Matter: Our Collective Responsibility

Washington Women’s Foundation is silencing all of our planned communications, including all those related to next week’s Grant Award Celebration, this week to amplify other voices, the voices of Black women and men, who are, yet again, demanding justice and basic civil liberties. Their voices matter just as their lives have always mattered. We have asked our members to listen to them.

Washington Women’s Foundation is making a contribution to Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County from our operating budget to amplify the power of Black-led organizations. Black communities do not need our tears or anger; they need resources. Their causes and their communities matter. We have asked our members to fund them.

Two years ago, Washington Women’s Foundation elected to center race and gender identity equity in our grantmaking. Doing so, didn’t save Breonna Taylor, Charleena Lyles, Tony McDade, or Nina Pop. Their lives mattered.  

I grieve because of the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. I grieve because COVID-19 is further devastating Black communities, because racism has made these communities more susceptible to disease and more likely to work on the frontlines where they are at greater risk. Their lives matter. 

I grieve for individual and institutional harm committed by and in the name of Washington Women’s Foundation. I grieve because as a white woman, I see myself in Amy Cooper. I see my own implication – and the implication of white-led philanthropy – in a system that has terrorized, humiliated, and killed Black men, women, and children. Their lives matter.  

Our Black friends and colleagues don’t need the burden of white feelings nor do they owe white people an education. But they do need us to stand with them. All of us have a role to play, because we are all harmed by racism and sexism. We asked our members to act with them. 

When we changed our grantmaking criteria, we committed to advocating for equity and justice, which is why we are speaking up now. Making a statement now doesn’t make amends for our past silence, and we acknowledge the destructive power of white silence. We also recognize that statements mean nothing without action, and action is what the community needs. 

Washington Women’s Foundation will continue to prioritize supporting businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and other women of color. We will continue to offer free educational programs and events that are open to the community and are rooted in our commitment to equity. We will continue to lean into trust-based philanthropy, centered upon what the nonprofit community tells us they need. In the coming weeks, we will also create and hold spaces for our members to support each other, examine their privilege, find courage and power to act, and commit to truly transforming communities and lives.

It is time to repair the harm and begin the healing in the name of justice. Black lives matter. We have told our members to do the work for them. 

Beth McCaw, President & CEO, with the support of Morgan Dawson, Aki Shibuya, Aviva Stampfer, and Kathy Wehle, staff of Washington Women’s Foundation 

2 responses to “Black Lives Matter: Our Collective Responsibility

  1. More Empty Words from a White led Foundation. Why not extend funding to small Black Organizations who don’t have a National Forum with large funding sources? Extending funding to ease your guilt of being complicit in perpetuating the lack of equity given to Black entities who don’t have a track record will only go so far. This action or lack thereof in assisting struggling Blackcentric enterprises doesn’t change the fact that your racism is showing.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to hold us accountable for our collective grantmaking decisions over the years. You are right. We know we are a part of the problem, and we are working to change that reality.

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