A Call for Solidarity and Collective Action: Asian American Philanthropy Letter of Intention

Surdna’s president Don Chen co-organized Asian American / Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP)’s  Call for Solidarity and Collective Action. Surdna is proud to sign this letter and we encourage other funders to join us.

A Call for Solidarity and Collective Action: Asian American Philanthropy Letter of Intention

Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy

As Asian American philanthropic leaders, we are outraged and horrified by the racially motivated violence, harassment, and discrimination targeting Asian Americans, especially women, youth, and older members of our communities. These anti-Asian attacks are the latest in the U.S.’s long history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gendered violence.

We are heartened and grateful to see the outpouring of support for Asian American victims and funding for efforts to prevent and combat anti-Asian violence. Much more needs to be done, and the work needs to be sustained.

As Asian American leaders, we offer this letter as our firm commitment to address these challenges, and we urge other funders to join us.

First, we start with solidarity. Asian American, Pacific Islander, Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian, Indigenous, Middle Eastern Americans, other people of color, and immigrants all experience the harsh reality of systemic racism in America. We further denounce all hate-based violence, including anti-Semitism. This letter is a declaration of our interdependence and mutuality.

To make progress, we will redouble our support of multi-racial coalitions to combat systemic racism and ensure that our own country embraces us for who we are, and not as perpetual outsiders.

Second, we reject the model minority stereotype and commit to lifting up narratives that foreground the diversity of experiences lived by Asian Americans and other people of color. Too often, the model minority myth is used by white-dominated institutions as a racial wedge to divide communities of color on issues ranging from affirmative action to police brutality. These stereotypes reinforce white supremacy and obscure the challenges that various Asian American communities face, rendering them invisible in our society. Asian Americans must advocate for our own communities while also standing shoulder to shoulder with all communities against these divisive tactics.

We commit to supporting work that dismantles racist and sexist narratives and opposes efforts to pit communities of color against each other. We will ensure that the diversity of stories about Asian Americans and other people of color are told and recognized as essential American stories. We will also demand that publicly funded research efforts collect disaggregated data that captures the diversity of Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other persistently overlooked demographic groups, toward a more nuanced and inclusive belonging.

Third, we commit to expanding philanthropic support for Asian American communities and organizations and all historically underserved communities of color. Funding to support the needs of people of color in the U.S. is disproportionately low. In 2014, just 1.25 percent, 1.06 percent, 0.30 percent, and 0.26 percent of all foundation dollars were specifically dedicated to Latinx, Black, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, respectively.  To explain away this severe underinvestment in communities of color, funders have often used a frame of scarcity rather than abundance.

We commit to making the pie bigger and combatting systemic racism by working with multiracial coalitions and funding organizations in communities of color, including those led by and serving Asian Americans.  We wish to secure commitments from foundations and donors that will result in a significant, sustained increase in funding for these communities. This can include funding for immediate needs, like relief for survivors of racist attacks and direct services, or to serve long-term goals such as building civic power and protecting voting rights.

Fourth, we invite allies to join our efforts. Asian Americans are severely underrepresented in philanthropic leadership roles, and we cannot accomplish these goals by ourselves. Together, as part of a multi-racial coalition, we will build a fairer, kinder America in which everyone can thrive. Our efforts will extend beyond the philanthropic sector to include partnerships with the affected communities, government agencies and officials at all levels, companies and business leaders, educators and scholars, health professionals, community-based organizations, nonprofits and civil society leaders, as well as journalists, artists, and cultural workers.

Finally, as Asian American philanthropy leaders, we will use our voices to advance these goals across a broad spectrum of communications platforms and will help other Asian American leaders develop their voices to make an impact.

Through these efforts, we aim to help build a more visible and accurate portrayal of AAPI people and other groups of color in the American consciousness. Our long-term vision is to support efforts to guide this country to realize its best self as an inclusive multi-racial democracy in which everyone can flourish.


>See all signatories

This is an active letter and will be updated periodically until April 1st, 2021. We welcome philanthropic professionals to add their name – please fill out this form.