Why Are So Many Black Grantmakers Leaving Philanthropy?
Healing, Reconciliation, and Action: Lessons from Mide Akerewusi's Journey
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In this episode, Tim (minus Kerrin) spoke with Mide Akerewusi, who is the Founder and CEO of AgentsC Inc., and the Interim Chapter President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter. Mide has come from a diverse background and upbringing that influenced his role as a social justice advocate. He has used the skill of fundraising to create a balance between those who have the power financially, politically, economically, to change the social situation and those who need those who have power to affect that change.
Mide’s journey is an incredible and compelling one, and he and Tim spoke more about those crystallizing moments that influenced his life’s work. Mide is currently celebrating the third year of the Giving Black Conference, which is a unique event within the sector. Mide describes it below:
“The Giving Black Conference is a community. It is a place of convergence for all people who want to know, contribute, who are already involved and engaged in any form of philanthropy in the global Black community. So we're talking about folks in Canada, folks in the USA, in Europe, Caribbean, and the African continents as well. And anywhere else that we may see Africa's Black diaspora. It's a place of convergence where we can come together to celebrate Black philanthropy month, but also talk about the issues that affect our giving.”
One of the core tenets of Mide’s vision and the Giving Black Conference is to provide a community, connection and power of what Black philanthropy is doing for the sector. Black philanthropy, as Mide puts it, goes beyond the money aspect of fundraising - something that is typically associated with the “success” of philanthropic efforts. One poignant quote to this stands out:
“Financial pursuit of financial wealth is the singular most destructive force in the world today. And yet as fundraisers, we laud it, we lust after it. And so what Black philanthropy does is that it reminds us of the true essence of love of man, woman, child - love for each other. And in an African context, we might call that ‘Ubuntu’, if you were from South Africa or in that region, if you are from West Africa, you might call it ‘Sankofa’, which is looking back. So in other words, I am progressing and that is good, but I also have a responsibility to look back at those who are behind me and make sure I can bring them in parallel. Of course, we all know the meaning of
Ubuntu is: ‘I am because we are’. We are codependent on each other. That is the essence of the Giving Black Conference to center conversation and community around those very issues.”
Certainly a powerful message, and one that permeated throughout the podcast. Tim and Mide did talk about the news surrounding The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Toronto chapter and the events that led to his and others resignations, and the resulting actions that have come from it all. You can listen more about it above or learn more about it here, but the story is an important one to hear about racism, tokenism, and taking action to make change. Mide has an apt analogy on how we heal, change and reconcile:
“...what we need to do is to really begin to think about what are some of those effective measures that will enable us to challenge racism when and where it happens, just as we respond to an empty fuel gauge in our vehicles when that happens. So that being said, what does healing look like? For me, healing looks like reconciliation. I'll put it this way, my wife and I love her dearly. We've been married almost 30 years, and we still argue, believe it or not, but when we argue somebody has to apologize to the other person, and then we have to remind ourselves that we love each other, and then we take actions to prevent such an argument happening again, that for me is the ultimate definition of reconciliation and acknowledgement that wrong has been done, and the effort to right that wrong and a commitment to walk a different path going forward.”
Tim and Mide went more in depth on these topics and much more in a really inspiring and thought provoking conversation. Listen above for the full discussion.
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Download the transcript here.