It is Black August and it has already been more than a year since we witnessed the global uprisings and movement in defense of Black lives that sparked more calls for defunding the police, abolishing prisons, and an end to state-sanctioned violence. We continue to be emboldened by the bravery, vision, and leadership of Black people across the country who are pushing for systematic change.
In the struggle for Black liberation, rest is revolutionary. Rest is reparations.
Audre taught us. Self-care is a radical act. Our 2020 Rapid Response Fund grantee, The Black Collective, uplifts for us that the principles of Black August remain “study, fast, train, fight,” and we see more and more of our grantee partners are bringing “rest and restoration” to the forefront.
Organizations like Southerners on New Grounds (SONG) had a two-month period of rest earlier this year when they closed the office and took time to reconnect with loved ones and themselves. Women Engaged started the practice of a four-day workweek, taking Fridays off. Black Women’s Blueprint has a series of inspiring posts this month on Harvesting Freedom, which centers ritual and liberatory futures through a Black feminist lens (we recommend everyone check out their Instagram page).
As we commemorate this moment, we also continue to be in a time of so much death and loss caused by environmental catastrophes, the impact of imperialist U.S. foreign policy in Haiti and Afghanistan, continued state violence, a broken and inaccessible medical-industrial complex further destroyed by the pandemic, unprecedented voter suppression, and a rise in White Supremacist violence. Yet, through all of the pain, there is solace in the resistance and conviction of liberation and remembering that we are not alone in our struggle, and Black August is one reminder of that.
Sheena Johnson, Groundswell’s Senior Director of Grantmaking, puts this into focus: “The work of uprooting anti-Blackness is deep and long term — Black August provides us an opportunity to reflect on that. Groundswell is committed to this hard and vulnerable work, and we are grateful to our staff, grantee partners, funding partners, donors, and advisors’ dedication to being on this journey together.”
In order to imagine our futures together, we must rest to regenerate the seeds left to us by ancestors and dream in community together.
That’s why with the launch of our 2020–2025 Blueprint plan last year, Groundswell set an ambitious goal of moving $100 million to the field across Groundswell Fund and Groundswell Action Fund over the next four years, prioritizing healing justice, climate justice, and investment into our grantee organizations led by and serving Black women, Indigenous women, and transgender and gender-expansive people of color.
It’s not a coincidence August is also Black Philanthropy Month. This is an opportunity for Grantmakers to publicly share their current investment in Black-led organizations with a gendered lens. Take this time, this month full of possibilities and rich history, and identify specific goals and benchmarks towards growing that investment. But do so in partnership with the communities and constituencies you claim to serve — not for them.
Philanthropy has a responsibility to uplift the knowledge, community care, and lessons of our grantees as well as continue the work of radical imagination in the face of White Supremacy. That’s why we will never stop advocating for all Black women, Indigenous women, and transgender and gender-expansive people of color to have the abundance of resources needed to succeed and thrive.
To learn more about our plan to move $100 million to the grassroots, please visit seeusliftusfundus.org.