Actions The Shift Network Is Taking to Help Advance Racial Justice and Healing
The Shift Network is a transformational educational company committed to creating a better world, one in which racism, injustice, and prejudice have no place.
We are committed to a process of learning and growing to ensure that we deepen our own cultural humility and heighten the awareness of our staff members around the issue of racial justice, which in turn impacts our programming. As we learn, we continue to refine our processes and offerings to be fully aligned with our intentions.
Here are some steps we’ve been taking as a company to uplift BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Color) voices and support key organizations whose mission is to transform racism.
-- Shift has been working with Diversity and Inclusion trainers over the past few years to provide training to our staff, including social justice visionary Mutima Imani... Dereca Blackmon, CEO of Inclusion Design Group... and Rev. Dr. Aliah MaJon, our Chief Inclusion Officer who sits as part of the senior management team and reports directly to the CEO, We are so grateful for the invaluable support and wisdom from all three of these wise and talented women!
-- We created a Transforming Racism series in June 2020 that featured more than 30 thoughtful BIPOC leaders, each sharing their voice and perspective about the current racial tensions and how to continue to heal them. Click here to view the names of all 30 speakers and their presentations. Click here to watch all 30 sessions.
-- We’re using our social media platforms to amplify BIPOC voices. We’ve designed posts honoring the life of George Floyd, celebrating Juneteenth, supporting #BlackOutDay2020, offering quotes from BIPOC leaders, posing questions for dialogue (including what our audience has learned in the past six weeks about the Black experience), and more.
-- We’ve instituted a new company holiday to honor Juneteenth.
-- Our co-founder, Devaa Haley Mitchell, signed-on to lead a public book group as part of the 2020 Great Radical Race Read, a 5-week, transnational collective reading and discussion practice to transform race one circle, one conversation, and one "radical read" at a time, hosted by The Radical Dharma Movement Project. Readers will also be scheduled for weekly teach-ins, based in the RD5 Framework for Liberation. Taken together, the teaching, practices, and actions guide people to reclaim connection, care, and compassion as the means by which to transform race, while also calling people into meaningful action steps. Here's the direct link to the Shift Readers team where you can register to join us or donate to support our fundraising efforts:
-- Most of our staff attended a training with Dr. Robin DiAngelo called “Seeing the Racial Water,” followed by an in-house debrief session. We will continue to financially support our staff in ongoing racial-awareness-building trainings of their choice.
-- We’re upgrading our HR verbiage and ad placement process in an attempt to attract a more diverse set of applicants to Shift. We also added a diversity page to our website outlining our commitments (which will continually be updated and upgraded).
-- We’ve added Transforming Racism to our philanthropic focus, in addition to Peacebuilding, Global Indigenous Wisdom, Gender Equality, and Evolving our Democracy. We are pleased to announce the first five organizations that we’ve decided to support with funds as well as with our platform and network power. We’d like to encourage you to join us in supporting the following organizations, as well as to Indigenous communities that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19:
NOTE: Most of the text below is taken from the websites of the following organizations and is written in their own “voice.”
National Bailout’s “Free Black Mamas Fellowship” — Every day, tens of thousands of people languish in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. Black people are more than two times more likely to be arrested, and once arrested are twice as likely to be caged before trial.
Our LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming sisters and brothers are targeted and caged at even more alarming rates, and once in jail are significantly more likely to be sexually and physically abused. What’s more, the number of women incarcerated skyrocketed from 8,000 in 1970 to nearly 110,000 in 2014 — and nearly two-thirds of incarcerated women are Black. Sixty percent of those in local women’s jails have not even been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial — and 80 percent of them are parents. These Black women, femmes, and gender-nonconforming folks — Black Mamas and caregivers — often have no support or safety net when they’re jailed.
Thus, we focus on bailing out Black Mamas and caregivers, and then offering them the #FreeBlackMamas fellowship, a 6-week program that explores the experience of Black mamas in real communities and provides an opportunity for Black mamas to devise solutions and cast vision together for the future of their communities.
NOTE: We use the term “Mama” to encompass all Black women and femmes that self-identify as a Mama — including cis and trans women, femmes, gender-nonconforming people, and non-binary folks — who parent and care for their families and communities in various traditional and nontraditional ways. Click here for more information. Click here to make a donation.
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights — The Oakland-based Ella Baker Center, a well-respected organization in Northern California, was founded by Van Jones (now a CNN Commentator). The center works locally, statewide, and nationally to shift resources away from prisons and punishment, and towards opportunities that make our communities safe, healthy, and strong. We believe that what you water grows. That's why we mobilize everyday people to build power and prosperity in our communities. Click here for more information. Click here to make a donation.
Equal Justice Initiative — EJI is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. We’ve earned the top ranking from Charity Navigator and won a Skoll Award for our impact on social justice reform.The work of this organization was featured in the film Just Mercy, which has received critical acclaim. Click here for more information. Click here to watch EJI’s 2-minute overview video. Click here to make a donation.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments. Click here for more information. Click here to make a donation.
Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 1.7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Color of Change leads campaigns that build real power for Black communities. We challenge injustice, hold corporate and political leaders accountable, commission game-changing research on systems of inequality, and advance solutions for racial justice that can transform our world. Click here for more information. Click here to make a donation.
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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 16: Racial Justice and Healing