Looking Back to Learn, Looking Forward with Hope

Looking Back to Learn, Looking Forward with Hope

The attack on Congress at the US Capitol building was both an unprecedented and yet completely predictable attempt to overturn the results of America’s electoral process and subvert our democracy. We are compelled to release this statement to call on our membership and philanthropy to refuse the impulse to return to business as usual.

It could not be clearer in those moments how firmly engrained white supremacy is in all the structures of our nation. The response from law enforcement at the Capitol was unrecognizable from the over-policing that occurs in many of the communities we serve and represent. The upswell of white supremacists came from across our country and from nearly every community.

We at Maryland Philanthropy Network stand with our colleagues and leaders across the country in calling for change. As we look back to learn, we also look forward with hope. As we shut the door on a year full of innumerable challenges, the new year ahead promises new directions. As we continue forward, we must resist the bad faith overtures that paint “unity” as simply a cooling of tempers, “healing” as a return to business as usual. Healing comes through honest self-reflection, historical and current truth-telling and accountability, unity through shared purpose and values. Those inciting and perpetrating violence need to be held to account, yet we also must hold ourselves accountable for the ways we perpetuate racist structures and systems in our work. We must deliberately self-reflect on our practices, our impact, our power, and embrace the discomfort that entails.

As Vanessa Daniel, founder and Executive Director of Groundswell Fund, said during our 2020 Annual Meeting, we must remove the imaginary ceiling on what we believe is possible and calibrate to the bar we need to meet to save the world. Our staff and board continue to grapple with race equity issues. We will continue to do this work and we invite you to join the MPN Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to explore how to move forward individually and collectively. Through shared accountability and values, we will advance impact together. Our communities and our future depend on it.

The statement above was crafted in collaboration with Maryland Philanthropy Network staff and the co-chairs of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Public Policy Committee. It was approved by the Executive Committee of the Maryland Philanthropy Network Board of Directors.