The Importance of Sitting Down: White People and Equity

In the nonprofit sector, discussions of diversity and equity are everywhere. Sometimes it feels like the statement, “But we need to make sure [blank] is equitable,” is said in every single meeting. But too often it’s said by white people. To white people. About people of color.

Last week, Rainier Valley Corps hosted its third Quarterly Gathering. This event featured a presentation from the Evaluation Committee, group discussions, and a panel Q&A with the amazing Fellows (not to mention incredible egg rolls).

The Fellows brought up the issues they see facing their host CBOs and communities. Like many nonprofit discussions about communities of color, issues such as racism, gentrification, and economic inequality came up. But one thing was different.

The Fellows, who are all individuals from communities of color, led the conversation. They were empowered to share their honest opinions, their successes, their failures, and their plans for the future. And that was because they were supported and encouraged but their group of peers and the attendees in the room. No one was speaking for them. They were speaking for themselves.

RVC is empowering these incredible individuals by giving them a peer group, opportunities to learn new skills, and a wider community that supports them. Of the RVC team, Saida Alim said, “We’re taken care of.” Marion Romero said, “No matter what, you have your family behind you.” Then she gestured to the room of attendees, saying, “This is what community looks like.”

This safety, this support, results in these Fellows able to make a bigger and better changes for their communities.

Conversations where young nonprofit professionals of color can speak for themselves don’t happen nearly enough in the sector, and to see it happen in such a supportive environment is incredibly inspiring. If you attended the event, thank you for being a part of it. If you missed it, I encourage you to join us next time.

And if empowering discussions on race and equity aren’t your thing, at least there’s free beer.



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