Anti-Racist Giving

The UUC Social Justice Steering Committee has been exploring what it means to engage in anti-racist giving through our Second Sunday Plate program. One of the priorities we have focused on is giving to organizations that are led by people of the global majority, particularly black and indigenous peoples. To that end, one of our members took this a step further in their own personal giving.

There are so many ways to engage in anti-racist work and how we spend and share our wealth is one of the. We encourage you to think about how you might incorporate this into your giving. Please continue reading to hear our member’s personal story:

Dear Friends,

Like many of you, my husband and I have recently collected lots of information necessary to file our 2021 income taxes. One of those items was a summary of our charitable giving during the past year.

I remember that in a November worship service about the 8th  UU Principle, Melody Moberg invited us to turn to our neighbor and discuss the questions, “Does racial justice and your religious practice overlap? If so, how?” One way that I am striving to bring a greater awareness of racial justice into my religious practice and daily life is by making some changes in our patterns of charitable giving.

My husband and I have long given to a wide variety of non-profit organizations including those working in areas of social justice, human services, and the arts. We have typically given to a number of large, well-established organizations with impressive records of service in the community. Many of these organizations were founded by white people to provide services for poor people and people of color. Many of these organizations have worked to diversify their staff and leadership, and to adopt anti-racist goals. However, the power continues to be held largely by white, well-educated, well-heeled people, who make decisions about how resources will be allocated and services provided TO the communities of people they serve.           

In mid-2021, we decided to branch out, making a deliberate effort to support additional smaller, local organizations which serve marginalized communities, particularly communities of color. We plan to continue that trend during 2022. Drawing on what I’ve learned in my work with the Social Justice Steering Committee, I’m also looking to support organizations which are OF the community which they serve.

Here are some questions that I ask when we are considering an organization:  Does the organization’s website include a statement supporting racial justice? Does it appear that the staff and board leadership are mostly people of color? Who founded the organization? When and why? Is the organization’s mission based on meeting a need within their own specific community? Are the people served primarily people of color? Is the organization located in a community where many people of color live? Is there a community-based advisory council? Choosing organizations such as this requires a little research, but much of the information is available on the organization’s website. 

How does one find such organizations? We plan to select some organizations that have received Second Sunday plate donations from UUC in the past. I have been paying attention to community based organizations which come up as I read local papers and listen to local news. I’ve looked into King County Equity Now, which is a collective of Black community organizations, businesses, leaders, elders, and community members. I now receive their newsletters. The Seattle Central College Library’s Multicultural Guide is a list of King County resources for our diverse community. And, of course, it is also good to talk with others who are active with social justice activities in the community to see what organizations they might recommend.

Here are a few examples of what my husband and I have done this past year: We supported United Way’s rental assistance program, but also King County Equity Now’s Africatown Plaza project to buy land and develop affordable housing in the Central Area. We’ve given to Lake City Partners Ending Homelessness, but also to the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation’s shelter for Native American youth living homeless. We’ve donated to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, but also the Washington Immigration Solidarity Network (WAISN).  We have supported the Northwest Folklife Festival, but also Wa Na Wari, a center for Black art and belonging, located in the Central District 

This year, as you think about charitable giving, I invite you to reach out beyond the “safety of known ways.” You might extend your religious practice by exercising your desire to become more anti-racist by choosing to support some smaller, grassroots organizations OF and FOR marginalized peoples in our own community.  The end result: assisting marginalized people with services they need and want, while supporting work led by members of these same communities, and helping to redistribute power in a more equitable fashion.  

Blessings to you,

Judy Oerkvitz
Social Justice Steering Committee

If you have any questions, Judy Oerkvitz and Dave Mentz, two members of UUC’s Social Justice Steering Committee, have volunteered to engage further with interested congregants.