Black Women's Philanthropic Practice

The aim of this project is to unpack the ways in which black women, who live at the intersections of race and gender (among other identities) oppression in the United States, frame and define their philanthropic practice inside culturally-White foundations.




Nannie Helen Burroughs 


 "We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible" signifies the complexities and contradictions inherent in being black and female in America during the first decades of the twentieth century. Burroughs's motto of specializing in impossibility denotes a profound paradox that African American women were able to believe in their own agency despite the virulent forces of racism. Rhetoric is the most significant referent to how African American women survived and progressed historically.                  - Sandra Lynn Robinson

I hope to move toward a theory of Black women’s giving, in a time that Black women are radically shaping much of the U.S. public discourse on social, gender and racial justice, that provides the larger philanthropic field a road map for long-overdue structural and systemic change.

 After situating this project in my own story as a funder at the intersections of race and gender, I will provide brief overviews and analyses of black women’s history of giving, and what could be considered to be philanthropy’s inconsistent responses to structural and systemic issues around race and gender. Key to the development of this theory will be situating my work within the stories of Black women currently working in the field, which I intend to collect through interviews. Stay tuned for the interviews which will be posted here as they are finished!