A Window of Opportunity: Moving Towards an Anti-Racist Future

Collage of people of all ages in Brazil. The collage has a textured background and hand-drawn abstract lines.

A conscientização e o entendimento do racismo como sistema de opressão e não de forma casuística ou episódica, significa trazer essa dimensão nitidamente para quem é liderança institucional no país, juntamente com a pressão da sociedade que não deve parar.

Translation: "Raising awareness and understanding of racism as a system of oppression and not as something isolated or disconnected means placing it front and center before those in positions of institutional leadership in the country, along with pressure from society that must be unrelenting."

Daniel Teixeira, Executive Director, CEERT, from an interview with Instituto Ibirapitanga

The year 2023 marked the beginning of a more progressive federal government in Brazil under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. A new window of opportunity emerged for foundations and civil society organizations to partner with the government in advancing policy agendas that center on racial equity. This change has given us the opportunity to help strengthen collaboration across sectors to ensure racially affirming education.

Working alongside long-time advocates, we dedicated our attention to protecting the Quota Law, which reserves seats for Black and Indigenous students in Brazil's public universities. With major implications for equitable access to higher education on the line as the law was up for renewal, we supported organizations like Instituto Ibirapitanga to deepen work around affirmative action and Instituto de Referência Negra Peregum (Peregum) to mobilize around and advocate for the law. Thanks to the unwavering dedication of countless advocates, policymakers, and individuals, the Quota Law was approved and signed into law in late 2023.

We know that advancing anti-racist policies can't just happen at the higher education level. This new window of opportunity is a chance to drive progress in implementing policies and practices that affirm racial equity at all levels of education from PreK to K-12. To make this a reality, we are actively engaging from the school and the community level, where education happens, to the state or municipal secretariat level, where the structure is set, and finally to the national level, where new policies are debated and created.

Four women smiling together at a meeting hosted by CONAQ.
Photo Credit: CONAQ
A group of women standing together with raised fists in the air
Photo Credit: Ação Educativa

Given the momentum that racial equity-affirming policies currently have at the local, state and national level in Brazil, we have a critical opportunity to use this moment to show that a holistic education is synonymous with one that is culturally affirming and anti-racist.

Philanthropy's Unique Role in Anti‑Racist Advocacy

Panelists sit on stage to share perspectives on education and racial equity at the annual GIFE Congress
Photo Credit: Congresso GIFE. IF's Fabio Tran joins panel of philanthropists and education leaders to share perspectives on education and racial equity at the annual GIFE Congress.

With the guidance of our Black and Indigenous partners and advisors, we deepened our understanding of the unique role that we can play in shaping a philanthropic sector that looks inward, acknowledges its shortcomings and actively works against racism. In a sector predominantly led by white individuals, we are determined to not only support Black and Indigenous movements, but also motivate other organizations to make racial equity a core part of their work. As we head into 2024, we're excited to dig deeper into a role of promoting conversation and action around a different, anti-racist approach to philanthropy in Brazil. So far, our progress in this space has included:

Pushing the funder sector to take a more self-critical stance on philanthropy.

We supported Grupo de Institutos, Fundações e Empresas (GIFE), Brazil's leading foundation association with more than 150 members who collectively donate $1 billion annually, in the creation of their new strategic plan. Focusing on setting an anti-racist and decolonial agenda in Brazilian philanthropy for the first time, this plan marks a significant step. During the year, GIFE organized two of the sector's most significant events in Brazil: the biannual GIFE Conference and Black Philanthropy Month, both of which unprecedentedly elevated Black and Indigenous voices. voices.

Fostering racial equity-centered collaborations with other funders.

We hope to encourage funders to prioritize racial equity by forming new partnerships and strengthening old ones. We helped to establish a coalition with six funders who focus on education to champion a more equitable education system. The coalition convenes regularly to explore how we can advance this agenda within our organizations and the broader context.

Committing to allocate at least 50% of our resources to support Black- and Indigenous-led organizations in 2023.

As part of meeting this commitment, we supported CONAQ in advocating for the rights of Quilombola communities, Observatório da Branquitude in producing and sharing knowledge on racial identity and power structures and Casa Sueli Carneiro in increasing the visibility of Black thinkers. Beyond increasing our direct investment in these organizations, we hope this work encourages white-led foundations to be bolder in their anti-racist initiatives.

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