05/01/2017

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I was honored to participate in The Gathering as an inaugural New Profit Millennial Impact Fellow. Weeks later, I’m still left amazed with the connections I’ve made and the thoughtfulness of conversation when it came to how we would all contribute to making this world a more equitable place for us all.

As someone whose work is rooted in helping others recover from trauma, I connected with the stories of organizational and personal adversity, resilience and strength that speakers shared with us. There is one moment, in particular, that is still present on my mind. Before starting her presentation, one of the panelists quoted Ta-Nahesi Coates on the physical violence of white supremacy.

Coates recognized that when talking about racism we often don't directly state the physical violence white supremacy inflicts on Black and Brown bodies: “But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.” - Ta-Nahesi Coates

And so I ask of us - what will we do about the physical violence of inequity?

The physical violence that occurs when whiteness dictates where philanthropic capital flows, leaving Black and Brown communities without the life-saving services or technology they need that are already in the mind of a founder of color with no funding. Or the physical violence of transphobia and discrimination that leaves transgender communities facing the highest suicide rates in our country? Or the subtle violence of societal complacency which resigns low-income youth to cycles of poverty and trauma, living in food deserts with unrecognized post-traumatic stress disorder, trapped in the school to prison pipeline? Like Coates said, all of this inequity lands with great violence on the body.

We can stop this violence. I believe that open, honest spaces like The Gathering are not only important, but will be a lifeline for our country moving forward. The conversations that we had at The Gathering by fearless racial justice activists such as Michaela Angela Davis, leaders in diversity and inclusion in philanthropy like Cheryl Dorsey, organizations leading systems change like Health Leads, and Millennial Fellows in my amazing cohort, give me faith that we will do better. And one way to start is by recognizing that each decision that we make as entrepreneurs, funders, and community activists has the power to render physical harm or render healing.

Read more from our other Millennial Impact Fellows here!