Last summer, as millions mourned and mobilized in marches and vigils in remembrance of Mr. George Floyd and the Black lives lost to police brutality, international movements fighting against structural injustice also grew in strength and solidarity. Activists and allies across borders dismantled symbols of colonization and racism around the world and connected struggles at home to global movements for freedom.
Throughout the historical struggle for Black liberation, Black radicals have connected local movements for decolonization and desegregation to a more expansive and global vision of justice. In a world connected by shared histories of colonization and present-day globalization, the foundations of radical internalism carved by leaders like Malcolm X and Angela Davis provide important frameworks for global critiques of structural inequality.
“There is no kind of action in this country that is ever going to bear fruit unless that action is tied in with the overall international struggle.”
– Malcolm X
The year 2020 was an inflection point in the racial justice movement where a broad coalition of public, private, and social sector stakeholders paid more attention to racial injustice than ever before. Our best hope for permanent and meaningful systemic change beyond the current moment of public attention lies with sustaining the levels of collective, global action that we witnessed last summer. That is the ethos of last year’s Meeting this Moment blog post where Echoing Green called for philanthropy to support the creation of mechanisms for racial equity organizations to connect, build power, and support one another; and to connect the work to dismantle structural racism to larger, global movements and struggles.
Without collective and long-term actions, we cannot create the dramatic systems change needed to transform the world. At Echoing Green, we have sought to drive collectivism among our global network of nearly 900 social innovators through increased opportunities for coalition building, even in our current virtual-only setting. For example, we created community groups that allow Fellows to gather in meaningful, safe, and collaborative spaces across cohorts, identities, issue areas, and geography.
“Our hope is to acknowledge the variance and nuance in our community by providing the infrastructure for Fellows, no matter where they are geographically, to connect with each other and honor the specificity of their experiences in very intentional ways,” said Rachel D. Latimore, manager of Global Fellow Community Leadership Programs at Echoing Green.
Community groups allow Fellows to share perspectives and experiences, draw connections between their work, and elevate collaborative advocacy efforts within specific issue areas. These entry points are integral in building the collective power of the Echoing Green Fellow community and strategizing solutions to our most entrenched historical problems. After all, as the activist Grace Lee Boggs wrote, “movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass.”
TOWARD LIBERATION TOGETHER
Social entrepreneurship is an alliance-based model for change that blurs sectoral and regional boundaries to bring together the state, civil society, and the market to challenge existing power structures. As an approach to social transformation, it is an important tool for building the collective power of communities that have historically been denied it. Transformational change and liberation hinge on creating links between the hopes, struggles, and strategies across organizations and communities. It is essential that funders connect grantees, their organizations, and networks together in support of global coalition-building.
- Fund Proximate Leaders Across the Globe
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We cannot successfully achieve racial justice without collaborative, concerted action against anti-Black state violence and white supremacy around the world. To get there, we have to be in the business of funding proximate Black, Indigenous, and people of color leading global movements for social change — the collective impact is dismantling racism and the interconnected conditions that bolster its presence and preservation worldwide
- Build Relationships with Intermediaries for Exponential Impact
As organizations that are in partnership with funders, emerging leaders, and grassroots movements, intermediaries are uniquely positioned to facilitate greater impact. Often acting as the “nerve center” of social change work, intermediaries catalyze large-scale, enduring change by redistributing resources to the leaders closest to the work and coordinating collective efforts of movements who share goals in solving a given social problem. Funders must forge relationships with intermediaries best positioned to pivot during urgent crises and drive adaptive, long-term, and systemic social change.
- Resource Coalition Building Among Grantees
It is integral to not define and prescribe capacity building for grantee partners but to listen as they lead and support their ideas. Lori Robinson ’18 came up with an idea to launch and run a Black women’s leadership group for Fellows. To support her collective vision for this work, Echoing Green has provided funding to create and curate a space for Black women Fellows across the community to gather, connect, and reflect. Funding both the personal and professional development of grantees as individuals and a collective proactively disrupts a culture of scarcity, encourages collaboration, and upends harmful power dynamics at the center of traditional funder-grantee relationships.
BEYOND THIS MOMENT
Social movements and transformational change have always been powered by radical leaps of imagination. For nearly 35 years, Echoing Green has found and supported bold leaders from all over the globe fueled by radical imagination. Our mission along the way has also been to create community — to connect leaders and movements around the world and model the joy and camaraderie that accompanies collective efforts for liberation. Through collective action and a multi-sectoral approach, we believe that we can progress further, faster toward dismantling oppressive systems and creating a more just and caring world where all people can thrive.