I have the fortune to be in Los Angeles at the Council on Foundation’s 2012 Annual Conference today on the 20th Anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. Ironically, this particular conference culminates my completion of the Career Pathways fellowship program, the goal of which is to expand and support growth and inclusion of diverse philanthropic leadership.
I had the privilege of attending a wonderfully orchestrated narrative and conversation today about the LA Riots organized by the Association of Black Foundation Executives and Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Self-proclaimed “Student of Expression”, Anna Deavere Smith, gave a moving performance of excepts from Twilight,: Los Angeles, 1992, her one woman play which represents narratives from over 300 people she interviewed following the LA Riots 20 years ago.
As I reflect back on that explosive time, this experience to relive the journey through the real perspectives of those who lived it in very different ways was an emotional walk down memory lane that, unfortunately, did not feel so distant. It goes without saying that there are important issues of raical and economic equity that still exist. But not saying it is an injustice in and of itself. We must own the social issues we face in order to give voice to the conversation about how we progress.
What inspires me today, following this deep reflection, is the promise of philanthropy to change communities. Philanthropy has both the opportunity and public responsibility to catalyze action. To bring us together.
Knowing how deeply seeded issues of racial and economic disparity are as the underpinnings of so many of the challenges we face in our community, let us continue to give voice to the heart of these issues so the next 20 year narrative we can write together will be different. Knowing the quality of leadership with whom I have had the good fortune to connect through the Pathways experience, I am hopeful we can find ways together to rise to the challenge.