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

Will philanthropy commit to racial equity progress?

By sunsetting, the Douty Foundation makes a strong case for limited-life philanthropy

Scribe explores oral history in ‘Power Politics’ series, funds emerging media makers

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Meet Kim Andrews, new executive director for The Fund for Women and Girls

3616 South Galloway Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

Philabundance

Corporate Relations Manager

Apply Now
Pittsburgh, Remote, or Hybrid

Regional Housing Legal Services

Senior Staff Attorney, Housing Development Legal Services

Apply Now
3645 Lancaster Ave

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

Multimedia and Operations Coordinator

Apply Now

Adult learners need digital literacy, too

How to create a CSR initiative built to last

cinéSPEAK and the future of cinema in West Philly

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Be the leader to bring a 26-year mission into the future in Chester County

Philadelphia, PA

Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP)

Policy Coordinator

Apply Now
Philadelphia

ImpactPHL

Director of Brand & Narrative

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism

Advancement Associate

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity