Wednesday’s failed, violent coup was an attack on our democracy. It was fueled by an administration desperately clinging to power through a profound display of white supremacy and terror. We condemn the actions of those complicit and demand bold and immediate action.
As we face yet another moment of tumult in our country, there are three key reflections that we want to elevate for our Groundswell community.
First, we are winning. There is no more evident sign of it than the violent insurrection we witnessed in Washington, D.C this week. The confederacy is finally falling; white supremacists are losing their 400-year war to retain dominance in the U.S.
As Stacey Abrams reminds us, “While today’s terrible display of terror and meanness shakes us, let’s remember: Ossoff, the Jewish son of an immigrant and Reverend Warnock, first Black Senator from Georgia, will join a Catholic President of the United States and the first woman, Black and Indian Vice President in our nation’s capital.” White supremacists have never reacted in any other way when threatened. We can be horrified, but we should not be surprised, and we should not, for one moment, let up.
Second, the win in Georgia proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ABC’s of social change in the U.S. are:
a. As the South goes, so goes the country. The U.S. South has been experiencing deliberate efforts to suppress voters and defy the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with gerrymandering. The Georgia outcome would not have been possible without the tireless organizing of Black and Brown organizers. Imagine how much sooner we could have reached the recent outcome if organizers had been resourced and invested in at scale.
b. Grassroots organizing is the engine of change.
c. The vision and leadership of Black people and Black women, in particular, is essential to the freedom of all people.
Groundswell is proud that the U.S. South is our most extensive region of investment. Black women-led organizations receive the largest share of our funding, and 100% of our giving goes to grassroots organizing — this has been true of our giving for more than a decade. We give thanks to those of you who have been in this work with us for years even when the majority of philanthropy derided and doubted the efficacy of this approach. Imagine how more effective we could be if philanthropy followed models similar to ours.
Third, we have a two-year window of opportunity before us. It may be our only shot to save our planet from the worst impacts of climate change, reverse the harmful rollbacks and policies implemented by the current administration, and begin to realize the long-deferred promise of democracy and equity in the U.S.
At every other opportune moment in U.S. history when such a moment has occurred, white liberals have squandered it with centrist, fear-based strategies that throw people of color under the bus to appease white conservatives This moment must not be squandered to make compromises or appeal to those whose vision falls short of equity and liberation. Even in this extreme moment, the impulse to do this will happen again. Expect it. Prepare for it.
There will be many calls for philanthropy to be bold and work to uphold democratic institutions by resourcing those on the front lines building power for and defending the lives of our communities. We must answer these calls with haste and precision. The only proven antidote to the terror we witnessed this week — to the last gasps of white supremacy — is to fund grassroots organizing at a massive scale. Particularly, work led by Black women in the U.S. South and across this nation.
Together, we can create a world where all people are free to be whole, to thrive, and to live with dignity. In the difficult and uncertain days before us, Groundswell will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our community, to fund and fight alongside our movements. May we find the time for rest and healing alongside the work that lies ahead.
The Groundswell team