In the last 10 years of writing what’s amounted to thousands of blog posts, Richard and I have never promoted or reviewed a book… until today.
Being middle-aged, white men, it’s easy to go through life not realizing the privilege we’ve had and not having to think about our whiteness. Yes, we have worked hard, overcome barriers, taken risks and helped create and developed a business that we feel proud of. Yet we never had to think about or experience race hindering us personally or in developing that business.
Honestly, the George Floyd murder woke us up. It’s not that we didn’t advocate for racial and gender equality and justice prior to that event, but it made us question what we were actively doing in terms of racial and gender equity, how we are using our platform to elevate diverse voices in the non-profit fundraising community, and what we needed to do at Veritus to bring about that equity in our own company.
We’re on that journey.
Part of that journey was picking up and reading “Collecting Courage,” which Mazarine Treyz suggested to us. Thank you, Mazarine.
Collecting Courage, edited by Nneka Allen, Carmila Vital Nunes Pereirea and Nicole Salmon, published by Gail K. Picco and Civil Sector Press, is a collection of stories from black fundraisers living in Canada and the United States writing about the experience of being a black fundraiser in an overwhelmingly white industry: non-profit fundraising.
The book is a compilation of powerful stories by fourteen fundraisers under four subheadings: Joy, Pain, Freedom and Love.
Here’s my review in five words: This book is a gift.
It’s a gift, especially to white, male non-profit leaders (and to anyone that reads this) because you’ll hear our black brothers and sisters speak truth to power. The vulnerability of the writers, the ability to read the eye-opening daily effects of racism that is experienced, the daily drip of micro-aggressions that are encountered… was startling.
And yet, through all that, these black fundraisers have a continued desire to pursue this work because they want to make a difference in the world. It’s… I mean, I don’t know how to put it into words. I kept asking myself while reading these stories, would I be able to survive this? Would I be able to keep having hope?
Nneka Allen says at the end of the introduction of the book:
- “This book is freedom. In it we are speaking the truth about our lives, with the hope that the minds and hearts of others will be transformed… despite devastating pain, our joy is effervescent and our desire for freedom insatiable. Our love endures.”
This book brought me to my knees. It opened my eyes and challenged me to really think about what I can do as a white male ally to bring racial and gender equity to our industry.
I don’t fully know the answer to that, yet. But I’m committed to not only keeping learning and listening and reading, but to act as well.
I urge you to get this book and start reading it now. It should disturb you. It will challenge you. For some, it will be a balm or salve to heal some wounds.
What it did for me and Richard was show us our white, male privilege – and while that’s difficult and painful, as I said before, it truly is a gift. A gift that propels us to act to bring about equity in our non-profit sector.