Co-facilitated by Liberation in a Generation and Christina Garcia and Ingrid Jacobson, ReWork the Bay is sponsoring a Funder Racial Capitalism Community of Practice (CoP) as part of its work to build a more equitable regional economy. In light of the increased national attention on the racial disparities and inequities that have been made more visible by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse and Movement for Black Lives in response to continuing police violence, funders and corporations are rising to the moment and looking for ways to increase their anti-racist practices and explicitly work toward a more equitable society. Through this CoP, funder participants will explore how they can deepen their efforts to advance equity, incorporate anti-racist practices, and support the creation of an inclusive Bay Area economy in their work.
What is Racial Capitalism?
The term racial capitalism is a concept originally proposed by Cedric J. Robinson to describe the extractive way America’s capitalist economy derives social and economic value from another person of a different racial identity.
The basic tenets of racial capitalism are:
- Capitalism is defined as an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry is controlled and owned by private individuals and corporations for profit;
- Capitalism measures success based on a company’s ability to continually generate and increase their rate of profitability, constantly extracting maximum value for owners;
- To sustain and increase the rate of capital growth and extract maximum value/profit for owners, capitalism must establish and exploit the idea of unequal human value to reduce costs; and
- The predominant differentiator of human value in many countries, including the United States, was and is race and ethnicity.
Why Racial Capitalism?
Rich with culture and diversity, the Bay Area is a hub of innovation and progressive leadership. Yet, the region has become one of the most expensive and inequitable areas to live in the United States, with one of the highest income gaps in the country. Low-income residents are hit the hardest; most available jobs do not allow working people and families to earn what they need to make ends meet, let alone build wealth or feel that their hard work is valued by society. The lowest-wage jobs are predominantly held by people of color, formerly incarcerated people, gender non-conforming people and immigrants, who often have to make impossible choices to cover basic needs like housing, food and childcare.
Over the past year, ReWork the Bay has deepened its partnership and listening with economic justice practitioners and the cross-sector Equity at Work Council. In that time, it’s become clear that the power dynamics and tenets of racial capitalism are a root cause of the structural oppression and inequities that we see today. The imbalance of who shapes and determines how our economy operates, its values, and “the future of work” needs remedy, if we expect to realize our vision of an equitable and inclusive economy. We are excited to create an opportunity for a group of philanthropic peers to come together to explore, identify, and test ways we, as funders, can continue to make significant steps toward anti-racism in our grantmaking strategies, processes, and community engagement to create a more just and inclusive economy
Community of Practice Participants
- The priority audience are funders with an interest in and commitment to increasing their awareness and practice of anti-racism in solidarity with communities of color.
- ReWork encourages teams of 2 individuals from each organization to sign up and attend together.
- We ask that you commit to participating in all of the sessions (see dates below). The Racial Capitalism CoP is designed for collective learning and meaning making. Your full participation in all the sessions and in the between-session exercises is key for a high-quality learning experience for you and your peers.
Community of Practice Goals
Our hope is that through this journey, participating funders will be able to take new steps forward in advancing an inclusive economy as a remedy to racial capitalism. Specifically, funders will:
- Reflect on racial capitalism, how it impacts and shows up in their grantmaking, with grantees, and in the community.
- Identify and utilize common language and definitions for racial capitalism.
- Recognize why and how racial capitalism matters in advancing toward an inclusive economy.
- Point to policies and systems within the workforce, education, safety net, and economic development systems that marginalize people of color and perpetuate economic inequity.
- Select a right-sized project or activity in your work that you can use to integrate your learning and begin to decrease the extractive practices of racial capitalism.
Community of Practice Approach
- The CoP facilitators will welcome each funder team in individual dialogues in order to understand your interests, experience, and starting place to inform the CoP design and pace.
- Each participant (or funder team) will complete an assessment and identify a specific project to work on in 2021 to apply and practice what is learned.
- Six 3-hr virtual CoP sessions that will include guest speakers, full group discussions, small group work,
peer coaching, and engagement with ReWork’s Equity at Work Council.
- Project work between CoP sessions to integrate learning during the CoP and moving forward.
This cohort series is from November 2020-June 2021.