There is so much beauty and wonder in this place of trees, mountains and rivers. So much great talent, kindness and creativity too, with our abundance of entrepreneurs, caregivers and artists. We are privileged to call this rare place on Earth home.
Unfortunately, the privilege that many feel to safely, happily and fully pursue their lives here is not a shared experience. And it can never be until together we heal from our history of harming Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian, and other People of Color, and fix the systems that threaten their lives.
Over many years and during these past days, individuals across our region have been spurred into action by tragic events. They anguish for justice for the murders of Josiah Lawson and George Floyd and too many others to mention. Many of our good friends and neighbors have joined protests or held conversations at kitchen tables with loved ones. While these personal actions are incredibly important in combating racism, we know it is not enough:
Until we recognize and change the biased systems of justice and law enforcement particularly toward Black, Latinx, and Native people, we will live in an illusion of fairness. People of Color will endure punishment, brutality and suspicion instead of protection and service.
Unless we examine and alter the systemic inequity in our education, housing, health and economic systems, we will continue to perpetuate oppression, particularly in the lives of Black, Brown, and Native people, and with it the fallacy that our society is one of equal opportunity.
And if we do not address the systems that suppress the choices and amplify the voices of our Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and our many Asian communities of color by failing to recognize each is our own—our neighbors, our families, our professors, our classmates, our bankers, our farmers, our colleagues, our friends—then we have lost the privilege of our humanity.
Because we believe that our actions are infinitely more important than our words, the Humboldt Area Foundation, Wild Rivers Community Foundation, and Humboldt Health Foundation pledges to continue and increase our efforts, including:
- Provide a brave training and learning environment for anyone interested in learning about racism in its many forms, and about many topics where systemic bias leads to injustice. Also, where helpful, we and our partners can offer private training to groups and provide confidential space for expression and learning.
- Increase funding to Black, Brown, and minority led-organizations with general operating support in our region. We will also provide no-cost leadership development, training, and capacity building to Black, Brown and minority leaders running organizations who seek such resources to achieve their goals.
- Improve equity and representation on our board and in our leadership team, and evaluate how we embody our values and support People of Color in their professional path of choice. We have already begun reviewing diversity and representation criteria for our board of directors and staff recruiting processes. We commit to monitoring and adapting how that leads to greater outcomes of diversity and governance.
- We will help support and facilitate local public sector policy-making, reform, training, leadership development, and accountability when we believe we have faithful partners in government organizations that deeply impact People of Color.
- Deepening how we use our local investment portfolio to capitalize organizations led by and in service of communities of color. We will also offer no-cost lending and borrowing guidance to applicant organizations who need debt-related financial development.
- We will continue our internal bias and equity development and restructure our organization so that our efforts are not peripheral but embedded in our everyday work and decisions. Our board of directors commit to doing additional learning and development as governors of our regional foundation.
- Offer support and resources to our region’s public organizations and institutions genuinely seeking to change their systems including law enforcement, school districts and elected officials to mention a few.
- Care for our region’s Children of Color by amplifying scholarships, internships, and training opportunities. We will also invest in, mentor, nurture and coach Young People of Color to become leaders in philanthropy for the next generation.
We recognize our pledges cannot repair the past or bring back lives, and that no philanthropic action will be sufficient to this task. So we invite our whole region to join us—from Brookings in Southern Oregon, to Crescent City and Humboldt Bay, and from Weaverville to Garberville—to build a region where Black, Brown, Native, Latinx, Asian, and other Communities of Color share a sense of belonging, equity and justice—and matter.
Bryna Lipper, CEO, Humboldt Area Foundation
Kathryn Lobato, Chair, HAF Board of Directors
Mary Keehn, Vice-Chair, HAF Board of Directors
Christina Huff, Board Chair, Humboldt Health Foundation