This is Not the Time for Silence

This is Not the Time for Silence

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” This past weekend the nation witnessed white supremacists fueled by incredible hate and violence descend upon Charlottesville, Virginia. We witnessed the death of Heather Heyer, a young woman driven by her conscience to join in a peaceful protest to denounce hate. We learned of two Virginia State Police troopers who died in a helicopter crash while assisting with public safety during the violent protests by white nationalists in Charlottesville.

I cannot be silent. As a descendant of a long line of community advocates and organizers, I was exposed to the concepts of social and economic justice at a very young age. My family shared with me stories and lessons learned from the Civil Rights Movement.  It is hard to imagine that those stories — about unspeakable violence and hatred, and unimaginable courage — are being repeated today. Amidst a resurgence of bigotry and white supremacy, we are witnessing an unsettling level of nostalgia for some of history’s darkest moments — Confederacy and Nazism — that we thought were long behind us. And now, in the Bay Area, white supremacists are planning rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley. In some ways, I no longer need to imagine history.

As CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, a community foundation with a history steeped in social justice, I am proud to work with our grantees, partners, and donors in addressing inequities and strengthening the rights and voices of the most vulnerable in our community. When The San Francisco Foundation embarked on an equity agenda, we did so with the understanding that advancing racial and economic equity is the defining challenge of our time.

In February, I wrote a blog post about immigration in which I said, “We are at a defining moment for our country … Where we stand will define us for generations to come.” Today, in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, the same still rings true. Where we stand will define us for generations to come.

We stand at a critical crossroads in America. For some folks, what happened in Charlottesville was fueled by racism. For others, there is a notion that one community’s gain means another community’s loss. While people will debate how we got to this moment in time, one thing is true: some people feel emboldened to foster bigotry and racism and to nurture hateful acts.

The challenges in front of us are about race, but they are also about economics and the need for greater inclusion and equity. There are no simple answers. There are no simple solutions. But all of us can take on the task of speaking up and denouncing acts of hatred. We must both attack racism and hate and the underlying issues that continue to lead to greater racial division in America.

We cannot allow our differences to tear us apart. We cannot let our country be defined by hate. We must be willing to speak out against hatred and bigotry. We have much work ahead. Each of us has a role to play. Each of us has a voice and a vote. The paths we choose will not only define us, but define our communities, and our country, for generations to come. We cannot be silent.


We have much work ahead. Each of us has a role to play. If you are moved to action, we recommend giving to the following groups, which our foundation has thoroughly researched and vetted, as well as supported with our own grantmaking dollars. If you prefer, you can make a grant to our Rapid Response Fund and we will deploy your dollars quickly to address the most urgent needs.

If you would like to give to a nonprofit organization in Charlottesville, we recommend giving to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. The foundation has created the Heal Charlottesville Fund to “to support both immediate needs and longer-term reconciliation efforts.”

In addition, we recommend reading the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of Ten Ways to Fight Hate.

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice unites Jewish Americans to advocate and organize for social justice. Bend the Arc is the only national Jewish organization that is focused solely on coalescing a progressive movement of Jewish Americans fighting for equity and social justice in the U.S. Currently, Bend the Arc is mobilizing campaigns around immigration reform, criminal justice reform, and affordable housing at the national, state, and local levels. The San Francisco Foundation is supporting Bend the Arc with a grant from our Power Pathway.

The Black Organizing Project (BOP) is a member-led community organization in Oakland working for racial and social justice through grassroots organizing and community building. Launched in 2011, BOP’s Bettering Our School System campaign is dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and creating more supportive school climates by developing policies that hold Oakland Unified School District, Oakland School Police Department and Oakland Police Department accountable. In addition to policy wins, BOP has shifted $2.3 million from the police budget into restorative justice practices. The San Francisco Foundation is supporting the Black Organizing Project with a grant from our People and Power Pathways.

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is a racial justice and immigrant rights organization comprised of African Americans and Black immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. Based in Oakland and Brooklyn, BAJI engages in education, advocacy, and builds cross-cultural alliances to end racism, criminalization, and economic disenfranchisement of Black immigrants and African American communities.

As anti-immigrant forces attempt to build wedges between immigrant and Black immigrants, BAJI has been able to respond with thoughtful analysis on the impact of racism and economic globalization.

The San Francisco Foundation is supporting the Black Organization Project through our Power Pathway.

The Bay Area Black Worker Center (BABWC) increases access to good jobs, improves the quality of jobs and reduces employment discrimination against Black workers through leadership development, research, organizing and building strategic alliances. BABWC is based in Oakland.

The San Francisco Foundation is supporting the Bay Area Black Worker Center through our People and Power Pathways.

Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) is an immigrant rights membership organization led by and for immigrant women. It has the double mission of promoting personal transformation while building community power for social and economic justice. The organization also provides mutual support to immigrant women and transforms them into powerful leaders who build alliances, lead movements, and ultimately win campaigns advancing the rights of women, immigrants, and low-income workers locally, regionally, and nationally.

The San Francisco Foundation is supporting MUA through our Power Pathway.

For additional recommendations, please contact our Donor Relations team at If you are ready to become an even more active donor, please consider joining Solidaire, a network for donors committed to funding the Movement for Black Lives. Check out Solidaire for more information and resources for donors.