To our ioby community:
The 400-year story of anti-Black oppression is central to American history. It’s a story of the theft and enslavement of human beings, of repeated cycles of racist policies like Jim Crow laws, redlining and voter suppression, of the weaponizing of the criminal justice and food systems, and of informal racism that white Americans are complicit in allowing to this day. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery are a part of that story and are four among far too many Black deaths at the hands of violent law enforcement.
On May 25th, the death of George Floyd doused fuel on the embers of four centuries of inequality. Anti-Black racism is morally reprehensible, and it is not new. Racism and inequality show up in all aspects of our lives. We see it in our neighborhoods, housing, schools, businesses, food, health and transportation access. We see it in our ability to participate in civic life.
At ioby, we know that residents know what’s best for their neighborhoods. We know that low-income residents, communities of color, and especially Black residents have been intentionally excluded from decision-making in their communities. And we know that when Black entrepreneurs dream up positive change to serve the public good, they will get less than 10% of all philanthropic funding. We know this because when leaders work with ioby to raise funds for their important work, they tell us all the places that have denied them funding.
It takes powerful creativity to imagine a liberated society, and to fight for it. Black people have been doing this for 400 years. That’s why it’s important to not only fund racial justice work, but also to fund Black-led ideas. So I invite you to learn from these Black-led groups, many of whom have crowdfunded with ioby in the past and have been doing the work:
- Tamir Rice Foundation is an Afro-centric center for youth in Cleveland to celebrate and learn about Black history and culture.
- BlackSpace is an interdisciplinary collective who practices new ways of protecting and creating Black spaces in the built environment.
- Kelly Street Garden is growing organic produce to share with residents of the Bronx, free of charge.
- ATNSC is an urban retreat space in Cleveland for healing and creativity.
- We Run Brownsville is a women’s running group in Brownsville, Brooklyn that promotes health and wellbeing, and encourages civic participation.
- Bank Black USA is a movement to encourage all citizens to transfer their funds from mainstream banking institutions to Black banks.
- Detroit Hives built Detroit’s first-ever Motor City garden where they continue to promote wellness, community engagement, and justice through organic dope honey.
- Youth Design Center (formerly Made in Brownsville) is a creative agency that teaches young people in Brownsville, Brooklyn innovation, design, STEAM, and more.
- Shooting Without Bullets engages Cleveland youth through photography and artistic activism to shift policy, perspective, and culture.
- Grow Brownsville has built an aquaponics farm to grow fresh organic produce for Brownsville, Brooklyn residents.
- 400 Years of Inequality is an educational initiative that amplifies the history of inequality in America.
ioby must be committed to the work of anti-racism to fully honor the fact that Black Lives Matter. As a white-led, multi-racial organization, we don’t have all the answers but we’re committed to doing the work. As of June 2020, we recognize that ioby is not a fully realized antiracist organization and that the journey of becoming antiracist is a never-ending one. We have made meaningful steps toward diversity, equity, and inclusion over the years, but we all recognized that it wasn’t enough. So, last November, we began a process of creating a Racial Equity framework with our board member Nadia Owusu. We invite you to hold us accountable to our commitments here.
We stand in solidarity with the movement for Black lives. Each of us has a critically important role to play in dismantling the foundation of racism that our many institutions are built upon, and rebuilding our society together with equity at the center. Together, we can change our systems of education, health, environment, policing, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.
Co-Founder and CEO