First, to our Black friends and colleagues… We see the pain and exhaustion these past days have brought with the murder of George Floyd as a victim of white police brutality, the infiltration of white instigators disrupting peaceful protests and vigils, and the media placing looting on equal or higher footing with the killing of Black people. These events are not in isolation, but as part of an accumulation of lifetimes of violence and betrayal perpetrated against you, your families, and your communities by white America.
There is a long road of work we are called to do to dismantle the system of white supremacy that we operate within, and—for those of us who are white—benefit from and reinforce. And for now, in this specific moment of anger and grief that you carry, we also just want to sit with you in care and love as our friends and community.
To our white colleagues and friends… We join many of you in committing to work relentlessly at becoming and being anti-racist. In this predominantly white sector of philanthropy, built primarily on extractive white wealth, practicing a profession dominated by white voices since its inception, we have ample opportunity to learn and unlearn, and to realign our mindsets and actions in solidarity with what our BIPOC colleagues have been calling us to see and do for decades.
As individual professionals, and as a predominantly white organization, we have promoted and developed practices and approaches that reinforce inequities and white supremacist ways of being and valuing. Whose intellectual work and creativity have we acknowledged, referenced, and highlighted? Whose questions have mattered to us? Whose definitions of “public good” have we helped to reinforce? Whose interpretations of success, performance, and value have we lifted up? Whose perspectives about the source of these violent and inequitable conditions have we lent validity to?
It is our responsibility to try to mend the damage we and our profession have wrought, and to work with others to rethink evaluation’s purpose and positioning in the sector so that it advances equity instead of helps to keep inequity rooted in place.
We write this statement with a swirling of thoughts and emotions about whether and how to do it “right” and to ensure a statement like this does not pull attention toward us and away from George Floyd and our BIPOC friends and colleagues. In response to those colleagues, who are rightly asking us to do more than make statements, we want to be more explicit about how we will act going forward.
As we have spent our careers instructing foundations on how to hold others accountable, we invite you to hold us accountable for:
- Using our power, privilege, and platform to speak the truth about philanthropic and evaluation practices that reinforce inequities of all kinds, and in particular inequities stemming from our colonial and racist history.
- Integrating the Equitable Evaluation Framework into our practice, explicitly using evaluation and learning to advance racial equity, regardless of whether a client invites it.
- Using the Evaluation Roundtable to help change the conditions and power dynamics in philanthropy that keep evaluation practice stuck in place.
- Supporting our BIPOC colleagues in advancing the solutions they develop and standing behind them as they lead the way toward a just and equitable vision for philanthropy, evaluation, and society.
- Working against the market capture that characterizes the consulting sector, pulling both recognition and financial resources away from BIPOC consultants into white-led firms.
- Being clearer and more transparent about what we are thinking, doing, and grappling with so that we can be pushed and held to account.
But also, let’s just call it like it is. We have no idea how to do most of this because we’ve never had to. And we have only begun to build a fledgling critical consciousness over the past few years, learning new ways of being in this work from our colleagues of color and from doing our own personal and professional work to learn how to be in ways that are anti-racist. We fumble through.
So most of all–because we believe it undergirds all the rest–we hope to be held accountable by both our BIPOC and white colleagues for being in right relationship with our friends and colleagues of color, standing behind you as you lead the way toward a more just world, and standing in front of you when the wrath of a reactive and violent system is directed at you.