Posted in Philanthropy, Policy, Politics, United States, tagged Anne Kubisch, Aspen Roundtable for Community Change, Barack Obama, Democracy, Hunger, Jane Wales, Keith Lawrence, Kellogg Foundation, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Obama, Racial Disparities, Racial Privilge, Racially inequitable norms and practices, Racism on May 17, 2010|
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Many were thrilled to see that the Kellogg Foundation had made a $75-million commitment to attacking racial disparities in communities across the country. It brought to mind the superb work of Anne Kubisch and her colleagues at the Aspen Roundtable for Community Change— whose work on structural racism remains among the most thoughtful approaches to analyzing and acting on this insidious problem. And so I turned to Anne’s colleague Keith Lawrence— and this is what he had to say:
“Hats off to the Kellogg Foundation for publicly adopting racial equity as a central grant-making principle!
“This is a bold step by a major philanthropic sponsor of initiatives designed to eliminate racial disparities in communities across America. It’s bold because a racial equity perspective explicitly challenges a number of faulty ‘wisdoms’ about race and its connections to familiar socioeconomic outcome patterns, and about the appropriate posture for philanthropy in this arena.
“Kellogg’s recent decision to transform itself into an anti-racism organization sends an important message to those who would believe that President Obama’s election signaled the end of race in America. While that historic development is a great leap forward for our democracy, and a welcome reminder that large numbers of voters hunger for a politics of hope and connectedness, it should not cloud our recognition that we still have a long way to go in truly extending opportunity to all Americans. Thankfully, old-fashioned, in-your-face racism has receded and most of us now consciously embrace colorblind values. But we’re not yet a colorblind society, because our opportunity systems and institutions maintain racially patterned inequalities without, for the most part, intentionally setting out to do so. Kellogg understands that racial privilege and disadvantage have been deeply inscribed into the physical, cultural, economic, institutional, and psychological spaces we navigate daily. Racially inequitable norms and practices in the employment, housing, criminal justice, health and other key sectors still combine to keep far more individuals of color on the margins than can reasonably be explained by their individual shortcomings. Personal responsibility isn’t irrelevant, but its contribution to chronic racial group inequalities is dwarfed by the effects of public policies, institutional practices and unconscious biases that continue to perpetuate racial disparities.
“By stepping up and reframing its race work in this way, Kellogg also sends an important message about the niche philanthropy occupies in our democracy. Americans have always relied on secondary institutions to extend democratic equality: public schools, trade unions, political parties, religious organizations and, among others, philanthropy. These “equalizing institutions” help create a common social fabric as well as additional opportunity pathways for those without social advantages. The extent to which philanthropic foundations have given a broader cross section of the public access to areas and opportunities once the exclusive preserve of elites—such as higher education, the arts, or specialized training—has been part of this equalizing stratum. This wholehearted embrace of a racial equity grant-making standard speaks loudly to others in this sector about what they can do to help our democracy achieve its full potential and substance”.
Keith could not have put it better. I am eager to hear the thoughts of others on Kellogg’s big bet, the work of the Aspen Roundtable on Community Change and the combination of research and action that is required.
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Posted in Asia, Policy, Politics, United States, tagged 9/11, Abu Zubaydah, Afghanistan, Bush, Danner, Guantanamo Bay, High-Value Detainee, ICRC, International Committee of the Red Cross, Interrogation, Mark Danner, New York Review of Books, Obama, Politics, President Bush, President Obama, Stripping Bare the Body, Torture, Violence, War, War on Terror, Zubaydah on November 18, 2009|
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While his new book, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War discusses three different conflicts, Mark Danner focused his remarks on the “War on Terror” at the Council last Thursday. Danner described the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, specifically that of Abu Zubaydah, the first of the “high-value detainees” to face interrogation and torture under the post-9/11 directives. The information was recorded by the International Committee of the Red Cross in a classified report that was leaked to Danner in 2008, and later published by him on the New York Review of Books’ website. Danner urged all in attendance to read it to be better informed about these post-9/11 tactics sanctioned by the Bush administration. Danner does applaud the Obama administration’s reversal of numerous interrogation and detention procedures, especially the decision to close Guantanamo. Looking to the future, Danner is concerned about the current situation in Afghanistan, but is optimistic that Obama’s patience and unwillingness to be bullied will lead the president to make the right decision about Afghanistan when he’s ready.
To hear the entire program with Mark Danner, please visit our online audio archive. Read more about President Obama’s Afghanistan decision in an article from today’s New York Times.
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Tuesday evening, journalist and author of the new book To Live or to Perish Forever, Nicholas Schmidle joined the Council and Marines’ Memorial Association to discuss his experience in Pakistan. During a period when President Pervez Musharraf’s power was waning, and the Taliban’s was growing, Schmidle lived and reported in the country for nearly two years, covering this very turbulent period of Pakistan’s recent history. The son of a high-ranking US military officer, the experience provided him the opportunity to speak with countless government officials and regular Pakistanis, including very uncomfortable meetings with high-ranking members of militant groups and the Taliban. Find the full program recordings at our online archive.
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Posted in Asia, Policy, Politics, tagged Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, How to win a Cosmic War, ideological war, Islam, Islamic militant groups, Muslim, Obama Administration, Pakistan, Policy, Politics, religious war, Reza Aslan, Taliban, The Daily Beast, War on Terror on May 14, 2009|
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As violence and tension rises among Islamic militant groups and the Taliban, award-winning author, scholar of religions, and columnist for The Daily Beast, Reza Aslan, joined the World Affairs Council for a discussion on his new book How to Win a Cosmic War. Examining the worldview of Muslim militant groups and the previous administration’s approach to the War on Terror, Aslan offered evidence that we are currently in the midst of an ideologically-charged religious war. You can watch or listen to the full program with his insights and recommendations for the Obama administration here.
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Posted in Africa, Policy, tagged Crisis Group, Elders, Global Philanthropy Forum, GPF, Jane Wales, Mugabe, Politics, Responsibility to Protect, Zimbabwe on December 16, 2008|
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Celia Dugger of the NY Times filed a story just moments ago reporting that one of Mugabe’s inner circle, Air Marshall Shiri, was shot in the hand on Saturday night during a night-time ambush. Mugabe is calling it a failed assassination attempt, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) believes it is the result of an increasingly tense (and violent) battle among Mugabe’s core supporters over who will succeed the President. If the MDC is correct, this points to further cracks in Mugabe’s core support, with significant implications for the stability of the country. (See our December 1st post) Zimbabwe may wake up soon to a military coup, or a state of emergency – both with dramatic consequences.
Crisis Group released a new report today calling on leaders in Zimbabwe to accept that the power sharing deal is “hopelessly deadlocked,” and urging them to implement a non-partisan transitional government that will govern for 18 months leading up to new presidential elections. The report calls for Mbeki to step aside, and allow for a new SADC negotiator to take his place – someone that is perceived as more neutral. “With the meltdown of vital social services, a cholera epidemic that has claimed 1,000 lives, the flight of a third of the population and a third of its remaining citizens facing starvation, Zimbabwe urgently needs a credible and competent government able to inspire confidence at home and abroad”, says Francois Grignon, Director of Crisis Group’s African Program. “A non-partisan transitional administration directed by a neutral Chief Administrator could achieve this”. Watch Crisis Group President, Gareth Evans, speak about the role of philanthropy in Zimbabwe and the responsibility to protect at our GPF conference last April, with colleague Samantha Power.
Meanwhile, The Elders continue to put pressure on regional and international governments to help find a solution to the stalemate, and even more so, to help alleviate the drastic humanitarian situation described above by Grignon. “There has been a lot of focus on the political situation. In the process the needs of the people were forgotten. We came to focus on the people and make a judgment on what we can do,” said Elder Kofi Anan of their visit to the region. Read more about the Elders mission here. Jane Wales, our CEO & President, served as Interim CEO for the Elders during its first year, from July 2007-2008.
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