Thoughts on… Fear and Race with Purpose Equity Team

March 31, 2020


Purpose’s Equity Team is a volunteer group of cross-functional Purpose team members that are committed to the company’s goals of advancing work, identifying new needs, discussing ideas, and sharing experiences relating to race and racial intersectionality. We are dedicated to shepherding and amplifying Purpose’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We do this work alongside senior leadership and in service of bettering our individuals, our organization, and our impact in the world via clients, funders, partnerships, and content.

Each month, we hope to use this space to share our ever-expanding insights, reflections, and points-of-view with the Purpose community.

We’re Thinking About…

Fear and race. We humans are arguably more connected to and knowledgeable about each other than ever before, thanks to the information and communication pathways we’ve unlocked across the globe. Why, then, do we still seem to fear one another, and why do we see this fear so acutely when it comes to race?

For weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has been destabilizing communities around the world. Rather than sit with this vulnerability and uncertainty, some have turned to racial scapegoating, targeting people of Asian descent as they have been historically in times of panic. While coronavirus is stoking this racial hatred, it’s hardly the first time we’ve seen a marginalized community vilified in the wake of widespread fear.

Now is the time to examine where biases and stereotypes may be driving our thinking, and whether we’re using fear as an excuse to fall back on harmful world views. When the impulse is to be afraid, we challenge ourselves to be thoughtful, and to keep striving toward a world where we’re united by something greater than fear. –Contributed by Catherine Addo

We’re watching…

A man on under the words The Look

The Look: A Story About Bias in America. This spot, created by Egami and BBDO for consumer goods conglomerate Procter & Gamble, puts viewers in a first-person experience of what it’s like to move through society when marginalized by your race — before turning the stereotype behind that experience squarely on its head. – Contributed by Meredith Saucier

Book Cover the memo woman sitting on office deskA Seat at the Table for Women of Color in the Workplace. What does it take to make it in the workforce as a woman and person of color? Purpose HR & Talent Manager Jackie Lam cosigns this roundtable discussion as useful food-for-thought for working WOC and white managers alike. – Contributed by Jackie Lam

We’re listening to…

Location! Location! Location! What’s the historic significance of where different racial populations live, work, and play? This episode of NPR’s Code Switch podcast examines the history of “social control” in America via overt and covert restrictions on where racial minorities have been permitted to settle in the States. Contributed by Ricky Altizer

We’re reading…

man standing smiling in jacket

A ‘Black Walk’. This Facebook post from 37-year-old father David Summers captures his account of attempting to take a peaceful neighborhood stroll when it’s clear he’s not welcome in the space. Summers’ allusions to fear, both as projected onto him as a person of color and as created by hostile police presence, are powerful. – Contributed by Shannon Gordon 

woman holding sign that says human rights are womens rightsThe Future of Feminism. March is Women’s History Month in the U.S., which means think-pieces about the future of feminism abound. In the spirit of intersectionality and inclusion, this article quotes five diverse, leading contemporary feminists as the modern feminist movement keeps going mainstream. – Contributed by Becca Antonucci

Joe biden and Bernie Sanders standingDown to Two White Guys. Despite a diverse start, the landscape of Democratic U.S. presidential nominees has boiled down to two white, straight, male candidates. This piece examines the troubling message that women and POC are “good enough to propel candidates to the presidency, but not to be the president themselves.” – Contributed by Prachi Rao

We’re inspired by…

drawing of women and design @WearYourVoice. Another favorite for Women’s History Month and beyond, this creative feminist multimedia magazine centers the perspective of black and brown queer women, femmes, trans, and nonbinary people, with global perspective. From colonialism to body image, there’s hardly a cultural topic this account doesn’t explore. – Contributed by Mohini Narasimhan

graphic of woman standing with hands in pocket for climate campaign

GreeNYC’s Women’s History Month Activist Spotlights. This Purpose project team is leading local government in NYC to reach its fullest representation potential with a Women’s History Month campaign that uplifts a racially diverse set of women activists. We’re encouraged by the way this team is diversifying government spaces through creative content. – Contributed by Purpose GreeNYC team

Quote for Thought:

“The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another, the less likely our movements for change are to fracture.” — Kimberlé Crenshaw

Until next time!