Three lessons from our March Community of Practice gathering

Participants in the March EECoP gathering, along with facilitators and members of the KHA staff

Participants in the March EECoP gathering, along with facilitators and members of the KHA staff

The second cohort of our Embedding Equity Community of Practice (EECoP) gathered earlier this month in Portland, Oregon for some pretty tough conversations around race and equity in environmental philanthropy.

Facilitators Michael Bell and Suzanne Hawkes skillfully led the group through topics like power, implicit bias and white fragility. Here are a few key takeaways from the session that should be broadly applicable to many philanthropic organizations with an interest in furthering racial equity.

You have power -- decide how you want to use it

One of the first topics the group considered was power: how to define it and the pros and cons of having it. One of the most important points brought forward in the discussion is that power is not inherently good or bad; we get to decide how we use it.

Look at feedback as a gift

During the conversation on white fragility, Suzanne shared a personal story about how she’d seen a co-facilitator respond gracefully and gratefully after receiving some painful feedback during a group session. The key, she said, is to look at feedback as a gift, particularly when it’s coming from a member of a marginalized group. When receiving this type of feedback, also bear in mind what it costs the person giving it -- both internally and socially.

Keep pushing forward

The fight for racial equity won’t be won overnight, and it can sometimes feel like a lonely battle. One attendee reflected on how deep racism and white supremacy run, not just in philanthropy but in society as a whole. But she also noted that leaders like those in attendance at the EECoP must continue to learn and grow, come back to the basics of equity often and keep pushing forward.

These are just a few of the key lessons that came forward during the March gathering. Attendees also had opportunities for one-on-one discussions with each other as they considered strategy for furthering racial equity in their own organizations.

Does this sound like something that would benefit you or your organization? If you’re an environmental grantmaker in the San Francisco area and would like to participate in our racial equity primer session on May 28, you can register to do so by May 13.

KHA Admin