The provocative-but-true blog post, "Nonprofits Don't Care about Black People," by nonprofit expert, Rosetta Thurman, became the most-read article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2007. Nearly five years later, I believe philanthropy and nonprofits still need improvement in diversifying its leadership with more people of color. I share an excerpt from the blog post below:
These statistics among the sector’s top leadership highlight the enormous disparity between what our clients and communities look like in comparison to our leaders, given that less than 70 percent of the U.S. population is White. This disparity is happening all over the country but it’s especially disconcerting here in Washington, DC - colloquially referred to as “Chocolate City” for its high number of Black residents (over 60%) - because executive directors and CEOs of nonprofit organizations that serve predominantly Black or Latino communities are predominantly White. It’s gotten so bad that Venture Philanthropy Partners has invested $500,000 in the African American Nonprofit Network to recruit more of the kinds of leaders that look like the people their organizations are serving. Now let me be clear: I do not necessarily take issue with White leaders serving communities of color. We need all kinds of people to do the important work of social change as it moves their hearts to do so. However, it makes me uneasy when I think about the reasons behind the racial disparity and lack of diversity within the nonprofit sector. Why is it that the people who have relevant experiences of struggle and challenge within communities of color are not usually the ones who emerge as nonprofit leaders to address these issues? Aren’t these the ideal leaders that would know how best to solve these social problems? And if so, why doesn’t philanthropy care enough about real social change to begin recruiting more people of color for leadership positions?