A dislike for a particular organization and how it is run is not a reason to dismiss a movement or a cause all together. I want to be clear that there are many protests and vigils and calls to action that are not affiliated with Black Lives Matter, Inc. To vilify the slogan that the organization grew out of is nearsighted and unproductive.
I’m seeing pushback from Catholics because the organization Black Lives Matter, Inc. explicitly supports the black LBGTQ+ community. As a nonprofit professional I am here to offer some insight on this wording from this website: it’s called intersectionality. By definition, as provided by Google, it is “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” At it’s core it’s about bringing groups of people together to work for a common good: dismantling systemic racism. There is also language on their website stating: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” This is not an “attack on the family,” as I’ve seen some people claim. That is an incredibly narrow focus on the understanding of family. By stating this, the organization is recognizing that we belong to one another as a community. There is nothing threatening about this.
This is something that we need to talk about because Catholics should not be turning their back on the black community by refusing to take a stand, or uttering a slogan, because ONE organizing body is involved that they don’t like. By saying, “Black Lives Matter” you are not claiming allegiance to any particular organization. This is about the fight for racial equity, justice, and the dismantling of racist systems. There are many organizations and groups that you can still support. You can still say “Black Lives Matter.” Believing this and being Catholic are not mutually exclusive.
For people who are struggling to know which organizations or people to support with their time, treasure, or talent I’ve been working on some guiding questions to help weed through the noise.
What gives me any special voice in this? Well, imposter syndrome has held me back for too long. I am a nonprofit professional with expertise in restorative justice, community development, and social change. I am a white-passing first-generation Latina and I have learned that I have a unique voice to lend to these conversations, especially to help educate my fellow white humans. There is A LOT I’m still learning about anti-racism because learning is life-long. It’s a journey and we have not yet arrived.
So, let’s get to it. How do you decide where to put your money, time, and energy if you are ready to support the dismantling of racism?
- Look local. There are more than likely churches, community groups, or nonprofit organizations near to you that are hosting protests, prayer vigils, or opportunities for education and discussion. There are probably social change organizations already working on dismantling racism in different capacities. Giving resources (time or money) locally often means some serious return on investments because tangible change can be made.
- What is the mission and vision of the organization or group? The Internet is your friend, but you have to do the work. It’s not hard to find the mission statement or vision of a group or organization. If it is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization these things, in addition to who is on their Board of Directors, are easy to find.
- Board of Directors and leadership in the organization or group is another valuable thing to look at. What you’re looking for is representation in their leadership that reflects the group of people they are trying to serve. This can include women, people of color, Black people, and/or youth.
- If you’re looking to donate money, consider giving a recurring donation instead of a one-time donation. As a previous Fund Development Manager, I can attest to you that recurring donations are preferred by organizations. On-going committed volunteers are also helpful!