Stay Woke: Facebook CEO’s Performative Philanthropy Issues With The Black Community

CBx Vibe:Charity Case” Gnarls Barkley

By Lyric Prince

  • Facebook’s CEO’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is under scrutiny as employees and associates claim racial bias in funding Black-led initiatives
  • A common problem in philanthropy, Black-led initiatives receive less funding than white ones

As technical firms experience an unprecedented amount of scrutiny over racial relations within its for-profit ranks, charitable organizations such as the Chan-Zuckerburg Initiative (CZI), founded by Facebook (FB +0.15%) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, have largely escaped the same amount of scrutiny until recently. A lack of oversight conceals serious structural flaws that put minorities at a disadvantage. When it comes to  spending money in an effective way, statistics are stark, as white-led nonprofits have 91% more in unrestricted funds than Black-led ones. CZI’s structure as a limited liability company, has additional privacy in where it gets, or how it spends its funds, then a 501c3 which has impeded race problems.

Why This Matters: In order for Black nonprofits to be competitive in the philanthropist sphere, they need to have both the access to resources and the platform to promote them. Especially when you consider that large charitable gifts from corporations, foundations and individuals, including faith-based and other sources hit $10.4 billion worldwide back in May, due to the pandemic that has disproportionately impacted people of color. Black employees of CZI they have complained of systemic erasure of ideas and initiatives within the organization, undermining many of its stated goals of ameliorating the effects of racial inequality.

Investing ~$40 million annually for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice

“The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has been one of the largest funders, investing ~$40 million annually for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. However, inside the organization it doesn’t seem like it’s living up to these same ideals.

Some other models, such as the “Giving Pledge”, offer more transparency about where billionaire donations are going, and for what reasons. This offers the potential for greater control to minority nonprofits and foundations that they fund. Black nonprofits, in the meantime, need to encourage the already bountiful generosity of Black donors, who on average donate 25% more of their income to charitable causes than white donors.

Situational Awareness: When it comes to Black leadership in majority-white spaces such as CZI, who are often from elite universities and backgrounds, they should continue to work to be respected for the expertise and cultural sensitivity that they were hired for having. Other organizations who reportedly should not find it difficult to relate to upper-class and educated Black people they employ, and should respect their point of views on how to best help their own communities.

CBx Vibe:Charity Case” Gnarls Barkley


Lyric Prince

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