Putting Racism on the Table: Learning Series

A Learning Series for Philanthropy

The term “racism” is powerful. It evokes images of the past, a time of black and white newsreels and overt, often violent, acts. The racism of today is subtle, often historically embedded in our institutions and sometimes presenting in biases of which we are unaware.

For those committed to issues as varied as education or housing, the arts or health care, race-based preconceptions and actions, whether conscious or unconscious, can shape the effectiveness of philanthropy.

About Putting Racism on the Table
This is a six-part learning series. Over the course of six months, philanthropic CEOs and trustees will explore key elements of racism. The sessions are planned to build on each other, with each session featuring a presentation by a nationally-recognized expert, followed by an in-depth, facilitated conversation between the presenter and the audience. The goal of the series is learning and understanding. 

To learn more about why WRAG is focusing on racism, read Tamara Copeland's op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, "Philanthropy Must Understand Racism Is Not Dead."

Attendance Eligibility
WRAG member CEOs. CEOs are encouraged to bring a trustee with them. CEOs and trustees of non-WRAG member grantmaking organizations may attend for a small fee. Participation in all six sessions is preferred in order to foster a shared understanding within the local philanthropic community. Please review this Frequently Asked Questions document for more information about eligibility. If you have further questions, please contact Rebekah Seder, seder(at)washingtongrantmakers.org. 

Why Attend?
As philanthropists across the Greater Washington region work to make it a better place for all, issues associated with race and racism need to be explicitly acknowledged. Many believe that legislation, culture, and society have made the necessary adjustments to create a level playing field. But, the playing field is still uneven. We hope that this series creates a greater understanding of how racism contributes to disparate outcomes in our region.

Cost to Attend
The series is free for WRAG members. Non-member CEOs and trustees may attend for $50/session, or $250 for all six sessions.

Email Rebekah Seder, seder(at)washingtongrantmakers.org to register.

Time & Location
Each session is from 9am - 12pm at PNC Bank, 800 17th Street NW.

The Sessions

January 22, 2016
Topic: Structural Racism
Speaker: john a. powell
Professor of Law and Professor of African American Studies & Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Discussions about racism require an understanding of how society, institutions, and culture perpetuate inequity. john a. powell frames these forces as “structural racialization,” or, in his words, “the set of practices, cultural norms, and institutional arrangements that are both reflective of and simultaneously help to create and maintain racialized outcomes in society.” 

February 19, 2016
Topic: White Privilege
Speaker: Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D.
Former Professor of Education and Author of What Does it Mean to be White? 

"Racism is a system that encompasses economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that institutionalize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of resources between White people and People of Color. White people are the beneficiaries of this system of racial inequity, regardless of awareness or intentions.” —Robin DiAngelo

March 18, 2016
Topic: Implicit Bias
Speaker: Julie Nelson
Director of the Government Alliance on Race & Equity, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

Implicit biases are those biases that people are usually unaware of and that operate at the subconscious level. Nelson will integrate the Implicit Association Test into her presentation and will highlight the ways in which bias and racism play out at the individual, institutional, and structural levels.

April 18, 2016
Topic: A Case Study on Mass Incarceration 
Speaker: James Bell, J.D.
Founder and Executive Director, The W. Haywood Burns Institute 

“We live in a country that is addicted to incarceration as a tool for social control. As it stands now justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate but in fact make the people that experience them worse and have no evidence-based correlatives to reducing crime.” —James Bell

May 13, 2016
Topic: The Racial Mosaic of America
Speaker: Manuel Pastor, Ph.D.
Professor, Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California

" The experiences of nonblack racial minorities are unique and unacknowledged by most Americans because our mindset does not make room for them. If the United States is to make progress in racial equity, then a full and diverse picture needs to be painted. Without understanding the reality of the struggle, how can Americans join together to put forward solutions?” — Angela Glover Blackwell, Stewart Kwoh, and Manual Pastor, Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future

June 3, 2016
Topic: The Role of Philanthropy in Addressing Racism and Racial Inequity
Speaker: Dr. Gail Christopher
Senior Advisor and Vice President for Truth, Racial Healing &Transformation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation

From Julius Rosenwald’s support of schools for African-American children in the early 20th century South, to the Carnegie Corporation’s funding of Gunnar Myrdal’s study on race relations cited in Brown v. Board of Education, to efforts today, philanthropists have played a critical role in supporting research and advocacy to address racism and racial inequity.

Series Facilitator

Inca A. Mohamed

Internationally-recognized facilitator and trainer with extensive experience working with leaders in the philanthropic sector.


Special thanks to

Additional funding provided by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Consumer Health Foundation, Ellsworth-Turner Fund, Corina Higginson Trust, Hill-Snowdon Foundation, Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and the Washington Area Women's Foundation.