For Black People When White Saviors Aren't Enough

Jun 02

LBS CEO, Adam Jackson, co-chaired the Children and Youth Fund Task Force since February.

UPDATE: 1/29/2018

The ordinance for the Youth Fund was signed into law on 1/22/2018 by Mayor Catherine Pugh.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Youth Fund between Associated Black Charities (ABC) and the City of Baltimore is on the 1/31/2018 agenda for the Board of Estimates (BOE) – the city’s spending panel.

The MOU does two things:

  1. Authorizes ABC to operate as the temporary fiscal agent for the Youth Fund for the 2018 Fiscal Year – with the implementation being guided by the recommendations from the Children and Youth Fund Taskforce.
  2. Authorizes ABC to create the permanent intermediary organization for the youth fund – using the recommendations from the Children and Youth Fund Taskforce as the framework.

UPDATE: 12/8/2017

The bill passed second reader on 12/4/2017 and was passed unanimously through the entire City Council on 12/7/2017. The bill currently awaits the Mayor’s signature to be signed into law.

UPDATE: 11/20/2017

The hearing for the bill will be in the Education and Youth Committee, chaired by Councilman Zeke Cohen on 11/21/2017 @ 5pm at Frederick Douglass High School. Read the first reader of the bill by clicking here.

UPDATE: 11/6/2017

We have been working with the Council President’s office to craft legislation that would put those recommendations into action. We’re pleased to report that the first ordinance will reach the Baltimore City Council next week on 11/13. There will be a hearing in the week thereafter on the bill as well. This will allow for public comment and public discussion on the Youth Fund.

The hearing for the bill will be in the Education and Youth Committee, chaired by Councilman Zeke Cohen. The committee will announce the date/time of hearing after the bill is introduced.

TOMORROW NIGHT – 11/7, 5pm at City Hall, Curran Conference RM, 4th Floor – The Children and Youth Fund Task Force will reconvene to discuss this ordinance and next steps. Please come if you want to ask us questions about the ordinance.

For years we have critiqued the non-profit industrial complex in Baltimore and how it undermines authentic collective Black empowerment.What we have argued is that the notion of white supremacy in the non-profit sector is manifested in 3 key ways.

The first is that boards of many of the non-profits that serve Black people are composed of people who are beholden to the corporate sector and are mostly white.This creates a dynamic where the organizations that serve Black people are not accountable to the community that they serve, but are accountable to the corporate sector.This means that there is no mechanism for the people who are being served to have any meaningful control over the institutions that govern their lives.

Secondly, the social networks that are deemed legitimate in the non-profit sector are very white, which often means that Black people are able to get access to resources to the extent that we are in close in proximity to white people. This often leads to Black being more preoccupied with capitulating to white people than being accountable to the community.

Lastly, the white dominated leadership of the non-profit sector has a general belief that the methodologies the are developed out of the bodies of work produced by people of color are inferior. Often the typically less effective methodologies that are produced by white institutions are elevated as the standard for their industries which crowds out and marginalizes Black people who are building programs and institutions that are built on community based Africana/Black methodologies. This reinforces a dynamic of dependency between Black grassroots organizations and the white non-profit sector.

These problems are pervasive and require intentional structural changes that can reverse this dynamic of white supremacy. Our CEO, Adam Jackson, serving as co-chair of the Children and Youth Fund Task Force provided an excellent opportunity for us to take our criticism of the non-profit sector and operationalize an alternative.

Our model for developing an intermediary that would manage the money has features that provide meaningful redress to the some of the problems stated earlier.We were intentional about how we should define expertise. In the recommendations we made it clear that we didn’t just want traditional non-profit professionals and leaders in the corporate sector to be the people who are making the majority of the decisions about the allocation of resources.

We provided the following language that help to guide who will serve in decision making capacities:

  1. A person with extensive experience working with people in the communities that we want to serve. Not just people who work for an organization that delivers a service or a program, but who themselves has an extensive track record at providing a specific services to community.
  2. Someone who has a particular kind of training from an institution that has an explicit grounding and expertise in racial equity, and/or culturally informed methodology.
  3. Individuals with substantial connections to and experience working with Black-led/POC- led organizations, particularly whose leadership comes from the community that it serves.

Another core element of our model is that the allocations for the youth fund should be made by an assembly comprised of people who fit the qualifications listed above. This facilitates a collaborative community based process for allocation of resources that takes the power out of the traditional nonprofit sector and into the hands of the community. ( complete recommendations of the task force)

This model works toward building a systemic solution to a systemic problem. Black people are often relegated to a position of having to beg white people for acceptance and resources. As a result of this dynamic Black people who are advocating for resources often frame the solution to this problem in terms of pressuring white people and the government to do more for us.

This frame is disempowering because it easily folds right into the notion of Black people being dependent on white power. This disempowerment has diminished the emphasis on building our own institutional wherewithal to solve our own problems and has allowed people outside of our community to make a living off of our suffering. Our approach will help us to build power that will benefit us long term, instead of being reliant on the short term crumbs that are typically availed to a few of us.

If we are serious about addressing the non-profit industrial complex in Baltimore, then this is the step in doing so.

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