All of our work at the Akonadi Foundation is guided by our vision for a racially just society. We dream of a day when all people, including youth and adults of color, enjoy the right to self-determination. When all peoples are respected and all cultures celebrated. When every community is safe, healthy and sustainable. A day when everyone has an opportunity to thrive.
In service of this vision, we have adopted a simple but ambitious mission: to support the development of a powerful social change movement to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society.
It is going to take a robust and powerful social movement to finally end structural racism. This movement will unite a wide and diverse range of people through shared strategy, principles and goals. But right now, racial justice organizations have many different strategies, ideologies and areas of focus, and may or may not identify as part of a cohesive movement. Funders often exacerbate this fragmentation by separating these organizations into "issue silos."
That is why we start with movement-building. We do not just want to support good organizations in their individual work. We want to help them come together as a movement that can help this country become what it should be.
To help build a social movement, the Akonadi Foundation is:
Making racial justice an explicit and direct focus. Organizations and foundations need to deepen their collective understanding of structural racism and develop a more strategic collective approach to racial justice. We need shared and precise language to describe structural racism and challenge societal reluctance to talk directly about race.
Providing long-term investments in organizations that are developing or advancing an analysis of structural racism and that are committed to pro-active racial justice action. Movements are built in stages, as are the organizations involved in movement building. Organizations range from those just beginning to work towards racial justice to those with a long track record of racial justice accomplishments. Organizations need foundations to partner with them over the long term so they can develop their thinking and action on racial justice.
Encouraging local innovation and success. Movements are anchored by local stories -- the Birmingham bus boycott, the Stonewall rebellion, the Delano grape strike, the Soweto uprisings –- that capture popular imagination and demonstrate impact. Helping people come together to share how they think, talk, and strategize about racial justice. Today, the field of racial justice is made up of groups with many ideologies, strategies, and issues – groups that may not even see themselves as part of a cohesive movement. These organizations are often seeking a clear unifying vision, yet funders often separate them
into issue silos.
Supporting the interconnected strategies of building power, shaping policy, and transforming culture. Social movements thrive on the strength and synergy of community organizing, policy advocacy, and creative expression and engagement. No movement can flourish without all three.
Nurturing cross-generational leadership. Young people are vital to the burgeoning racial justice movement, often bringing an explicit and intersectional race analysis to their work. Youth organizing and cross-generational organizing are critical components to both movement-building and racial justice organizing.
CULTURE, POWER, POLICY
The Akonadi Foundation believes that social movements thrive on the interconnected strategies of building power, shaping policy, and transforming culture. We seek to support all three strategies in all our programs.
We understand cultural work to mean the making of creations (writing, performance, pictures, images and/or sounds) through which communities practice a new and/or different pattern of feeling, thinking, and acting that differs from dominant racialized norms. We support cultural work that is community based and paired with political education.
We understand power building as community organizing that engages communities with a goal of creating a common understanding and analysis about racism and which results in creating power to demand a role in the development of racially just policies, practices and culture.
We understand policy as action against specific racially unjust policies or practices and/or action that generates new racially just policies or frameworks. We support policy, advocacy, and legal work that is linked with and/or informed by community based problem-solving efforts.
"Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle."
- Malcolm X