Performative philanthropy and the cost of silence

Ray Holgado @RayHolgado
Published today by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy – An account of my time at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and the racial bias and discrimination I encountered while working at the foundation for the past two years.

My experience of anti-Blackness at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an urgent appeal to our sector


In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) published an open letter expressing support for the nationwide protests and the call for racial justice.

On June 5, Priscilla Chan, who owns and operates CZI alongside her husband, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, said: “I stand in solidarity with the Black community and all those risking their own health and safety in the fight for justice, equity, and inclusion.”

She went on to punctuate the sentiment by declaring, “Black Lives Matter.”

The statement, which remains prominently displayed on the CZI website, stands in stark contrast to my experience as a Black man working at CZI for the past 2 years.

Public statements versus the internal reality

During my time at CZI, I served in multiple departments and roles, performing a wide range of duties, including grantmaking, grants management and operations. Throughout my experience, I have been consistently alarmed by the racially discriminatory practices displayed in the organization’s treatment of Black employees and its approach to grantmaking, which operates devoid of racial analysis and often with reckless disregard for how internally devised “solutions” will affect Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. <snip>

Performative philanthropy and the cost of silence

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