The horrific killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the COVID-19 pandemic’s ruthless attack on communities of color has galvanized people’s attention to the vast inequalities and systemic forms of racism that permeate American society. Rev. Al Sharpton declared at Mr. Floyd’s funeral in Minneapolis that there is hope for change because the swelling protests show that it is “a different time and a different season.” With hopes that we can move from anguish to action, Renaissance Journalism is taking new steps to help journalists tackle inequality, systemic inequities and racism in America, which is at the heart of our mission.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia is a writer, poet and activist who describes herself as a “poverty scholar” because she and her mother used to live on the streets. She has a pointed message for both journalists and U.S. Census bureau officials concerned about how so-called hard-to-count demographic groups may get overlooked by—or simply choose to evade—the 2020 U.S. Census. “I don’t trust corporate or independent media because our stories are told about us, without us,” said Gray-Garcia at a media briefing organized recently by Renaissance Journalism. “I don’t know that my (Census) information won’t become a part of a body of information that is going to further enhance my criminalization, incarceration or citation, the way it happens every day.”
Renaissance Journalism received a nice holiday surprise from Sisa-IN, a South Korean investigative reporting magazine, which featured our work in a story and video as part of a series about nonprofit journalism in the United States. In my conversation with the visiting Sisa-IN team, I noted that Renaissance Journalism and the others benefit from the presence of a strong philanthropic community, which South Korea lacks. And, it’s not just the money. We benefit when philanthropic leaders share their thinking and ideas and their networks of leaders and groups. We feel affirmed when funders embrace our vision that journalism is a powerful mechanism for advancing social justice. We are inspired by what we learn at the Knight Media Forum and the Media Impact Funders conferences; we grow from The Whitman Institute’s thoughtful conversations about trust-based philanthropy; we are grateful for the Ford Foundation’s leadership on media and equity; and we gain new insights and partners at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s convenings.