Nia Impact Capital is a proud sponsor of the Unconference, an inspiring and ground breaking event whose goal is to dismantle white supremacy. Organized by the Dismantle Collective, this gathering is an opportunity for constructive dialogue among people of color and white allies –activists, policy-makers, business leaders, employees, community organizers, local residents and community members. It is also an opportunity be introspective and to help identify our conscious and unconscious biases and the actions stemming from our trained ways of thinking and seeing the world. We hope you will join us June 14th and 15th at the Impact Hub in Oakland.
Why an UnConference?
An Unconference provides a unique space that disrupts the hierarchical, traditional conference setting, allowing for more open dialog, including multiple voices. Individual participants are able to step in as experts and wisdom keepers, and collaborations are encouraged. The Dismantling White Supremacy Unconference will provide a setting for people of color and white allies–including activists, policy-makers, business leaders, employees, community organizers, or other residents or community members –to have an explicit and courageous conversation about dismantling systemic white supremacy (and the many discussions that come up around white supremacy) in a community-led forum. The Unconference will include dialog and deep conversation delving into both the historical reasons behind our current system and opportunities and strategies for change.
Why this explicit term?
It’s time to be clear what we are talking about. Distinguishing between “white supremacists” — individuals who identify as neo-Nazi’s, KKK members or racists — -and “white supremacy” — the normalized, and often hidden systems of privilege and oppression that drive our society — is essential for us to move toward dismantling them. Moving away from viewing the problem as isolated within racist individuals and stepping in to examine the ways in which societal norms are enacted by individuals and institutions allows us all to see the small and interrelated ways that white supremacy works, and how each of our actions are part of a much broader fabric.
As articulated at the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop in San Francisco, white supremacy is “a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.”
The primary objective of this event is not to discuss the bigotry of individuals. Rather, the Dismantle Collective has organized this event to discuss the system of white supremacy in which white domination of society has become the default order and status quo in the way our society and social interactions are organized.
Our economy and the society within which it is based are in need of a reboot. Wealth inequality is headed toward extremes that hurt all of us. In order to be able to dive into real systemic change and make progress toward creating an inclusive economy, it’s important for change makers to understand where we came from and how we developed the systems we use today. Because white supremacy is baked into many of our everyday interactions, without many of us seeing or knowing how we implicitly participate and perpetuate a very unequal status quo, it’s essential that we name and understand some of the believe systems behind our actions. As an example, acknowledging that the myth of meritocracy is a foundational believe for many is helpful in moving beyond this myth to seeing the hierarchical systems in place. American society is strongly rooted in the believe that those who work hard do well, and those who are not doing well have not worked hard enough. This way of seeing, a view based on merit, closes our eyes to all of the systemic ways that white privilege advantages those with lighter skin, and discriminates against those with darker skin.
This event, and the conversations that will be facilitated during our time together, are critically important because by naming and understanding white supremacy and the ways our current social contracts work on micro and macro levels, we are all much better positioned to disrupt and dismantle this hierarchical system. We see dismantling white supremacy as a necessary precondition to creating an inclusive economy that works for everyone.
We at Nia Impact Capital are incredibly proud to sponsor this Unconference. Nia is the Swahili word for intention and purpose, and we are purpose driven in all that we do. We recognize that our financial industry was built on and within systems of privilege and patriarchy, and that access to financial stability and potential economic growth remain outside the reach of many. Sadly, even with recent efforts promoting diversity and inclusion, little has changed in the financial arena. The Knight Foundation in partnership with Harvard University published a study of the financial services industry highlighting the ongoing under-representation of both women and people of color in all areas of asset management and firm ownership. Assets under management of women and people of color range between .8–8% depending on the asset class, meaning that far less than 10% of our investment dollars are being directed by women or people of color. This study highlights the fact that white males are actually in control of over 90% of the $72 trillion that make up the assets under management in our economy. To rectify the situation and set an entirely new course, we need to change our economic system, and change just who is managing our dollars, who is getting funded to start and grow companies, and who is at the table making these decisions.
At Nia, we see these unequal realities in our work everyday, and we are determined to be a part of moving our industry toward more justice. The Unconference is a forum to advance this conversation. We look forward to both listening, making space for and engaging in deep dialog with racial justice thought leaders, as well as to collectively uncovering actions we can all take to help foster much needed change.
Together, we can make progress. Please join us on June 14–15th in Oakland at the Impact Hub.