BMe founder Trabian Shorters: The philanthropic sector is thinking about equity all wrong - Generocity Philly

People

Oct. 25, 2018 1:15 pm

BMe founder Trabian Shorters: The philanthropic sector is thinking about equity all wrong

Learn to cut the stigmatizing labels: The DEI expert and social entrepreneur is speaking at Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia's fall conference on Nov. 2.

Trabian Shorters.

(Photo courtesy of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia)

Generocity is serving as a media partner for Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia's fall conference.
Asset framing: the shift to narratives that define a people by their aspirations and assets rather than their challenges and deficits.

It’s a concept originated by DEI expert Trabian Shorters, the former Knight Foundation VP who founded BMe Community, a community engagement program and social entrepreneur fellowship for Black men. (BMe stands for “Black male engagement.”)

Philadelphians who have been recognized by BMe in the past include social entrepreneur Alex PeayVillage of Arts and Humanities’ Michael O’Bryan and Urban Philly Professional Network founder Sulaiman Rahman.

Shorters will be the lunchtime keynote speaker of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia’s fall conference, themed “Onramps to Equity in Action,” on Friday, Nov. 2. His talk will focus on how those in the philanthropic sector can use asset framing when talking and thinking about the people their work is serving.

Register to attend

“It’s different even from telling success stories,” Shorters said. “It is more fundamentally [about] assets and contributions, rather than by a challenge you face.”

However, philanthropy doesn’t often work that way: “Our field defines people as ‘low-income,’ ‘at-risk,’ ‘high-crime,’ ‘low-literacy.’ We define people by stigmatizing labels.”

Those phrases are so commons, though — see examples of Generocity using “low-income” here — that it can be hard to imagine what other words we should be using. One way to fight back against your own tunnel vision? Consider brands “that don’t stigmatize their customers,” Shorters said.

From our Partners

Nike, for instance, doesn’t shame would-be athletes in its ads. Instead, it pushes the idea that exercise helps you become your best self.

“When we set our mind to not stigmatize someone, we realize that even someone living in poverty aspires to get out of poverty,” he said. “It is OK to define people as ‘families working to get out of poverty,’ because you haven’t defined them by their challenge, you’ve defined them by their aspirations.”

Asset framing can be the work of both individuals (for instance, I need to change how I think about other people), organizations (for instance, We as a foundation need to change how we think about those we serve) and whole societies.

And in the philanthropic sector especially, Shorters said, it’s important to remember that true equity work is not the same as risk mitigation.

“In order to really advance equity, you have to remind those who are really concerned with these questions that all of us are striving to do the best we can under the conditions that we’re dealt,” he said. “When you remind people of that, then we look at solutions entirely differently.”

Philanthropy Network’s 2018 fall conference, “Onramps to Equity in Action,” will be held on Friday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. Tickets are available here.

-30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

6 professional development conferences nonprofit pros will want to attend

‘In Search of Meaning: Memory Becomes Us’ makes space for science and art

Storymap: Schools count the young and homeless in the Philly ‘burbs

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Nonprofits and startups can win up to $360K at the WeWork Creator Awards

321 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

National Liberty Museum

Administrative Assistant

Apply Now
Philadelphia

Career Wardrobe

Program Director

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Maternity Care Coalition

Case Manager Healthy Families of America Program

Apply Now

On the Market: 13 new Philly jobs at foundations, museums, advocacy orgs and more

On pursuing equity and opportunity in Philadelphia communities

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

12 Philly immigrants who are ready to mobilize

Philadelphia, PA

Next City

Development Manager

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia

Program Manager

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity