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Better Together in the South: Building Movements across Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

June 4, 2013

This briefing paper builds upon the research presented in Applied Research Center's 2010 "Better Together" report by looking specifically at the challenges and opportunities that arise when we connect movements, organizations, constituencies, and issues for racial justice with those for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) liberation in the U.S. South. As mainstream media has dedicated relatively little attention to covering the barriers encountered, and the progress made, by LGBT organizations and activists in southern "Bible Belt" states, this paper highlights trends and organizing initiatives affecting the lives of Southern LGBT people of color. Changes in racial composition and migration patterns contribute to both cultural and political change in the South, with significant implications for national policy change. Through a series of interviews, surveys, and convenings with Southern leaders, and through research on recent developments in the region, this paper identifies demographics changes, noteworthy trends, and successes and setbacks affecting the lives of LGBT people and people of color across twelve Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Relative to most other regions in the nation, there is a clear dearth of progressive legislation in the South. Indeed, when it comes to LGBT and racial equity, the South looks like a progressive policy desert. But that's only one side of the story; a closer examination of on-the-ground community efforts reveals that, even amidst this policy desert, there are many flourishing oases of deep experience, courageous and creative organizing, and promising practices focused on activating and uniting marginalized communities into formidable forces for social change. Many of the insights and models developed in the South -- though often given little attention by the national media, mainstream LGBT, and traditional civil rights organizations and philanthropic institutions -- could substantively contribute to broader movement-building strategies for our nation. A surprising array of grassroots organizations are engaged in innovative and intersectional work across the South, fueling LGBT acceptance and cultural change. They incorporate strategies such as inclusionary and multi-issue framing; explicitly addressing race to build multi-racial cohesion and power; and creatively using cultural expressions such as storytelling, personal testimonies, and the arts to elevate the voices of LGBT people of color. Many of these efforts and strategies that centralize, rather than marginalize, communities of color in LGBT issues in the South have nationwide resonance and relevance and, given adequate resourcing as well as appropriate tools and channels for sharing best practices, they could continue to take transformative projects to a greater scale to expand their reach and impact

Shattered Families: The Perilous Intersection of Immigration Enforcement and the Child Welfare System

November 8, 2011

Examines how systemic biases in government practices, lack of legal protections, and limited expertise on the part of child welfare services exacerbate the trauma of separation following parents' detention and deportation and prevent family reunification.

Leadership and Race: How to Develop and Support Leadership that Contributes to Racial Justice

September 8, 2010

This report explores the ways in which our current thinking about leadership often contributes to producing and maintaining racialized dynamics, and identifies a set of core competencies associated with racial justice leadership. Recommendations are included for helping leadership programs develop and support leadership that furthers racial justice in organizations, communities, and the broader society.

Better Together: Research Findings on the Relationship between Racial Justice Organizations and LGBT Communities

September 1, 2010

"Better Together" is a landmark report on the relationship between racial justice organizations and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. The report finds that the lack of resources, funding, and community support are obstacles to engagement. In addition, there are damaging perceptions about LGBT communities and racial justice groups, specifically that LGBT identity and politics are for white people and that communities of color are disproportionately homophobic. "Better Together" is a result of surveys and interviews with more than 80 organizations and 30 key leaders, based on the premise that significant numbers of LGBT people are of color and comprising an important part of the racial justice constituency. The report focuses on current engagement efforts, perceived barriers, potential opportunities, and key recommendations for advancing work in this intersectional area. This is a critical report that addresses the intersection of issues between racial justice and LGBT communities and provides actionable recommendations to those working in organizations serving these communities as well as to funders.

Catalytic Change: Lessons Learned from the Racial Justice Grantmaking Assessment

May 1, 2009

ARC and PRE designed the Racial Justice Grantmaking Assessment to help foundation staff and leaders understand the benefits of being explicit about racial equity, and to determine the degree to which their work is advancing racial justice. This report is based on the pilot process, and is intended to share insights into some of the barriers within the philanthropic sector that stand in the way of achieving racial justice outcomes. It is organized into five segments:This introduction, which provides brief profiles of ARC and PRE, and of the assessment team;A description of the assessment process, including definitions, assumptions, and methodology;An overview of the assessments of the Consumer Health Foundation and the Barr Foundation, including brief profiles of each, summary findings, recommendations, and impacts to date;Lessons learned from the pilot process by the ARC-PRE assessment team; andAppendices with more detailed findings, recommendations, and initial impacts for each foundation.

Short Changed: Foundation Giving and Communities of Color

January 1, 2004

This report discusses ways in which foundations concerned with social justice have supported efforts to effectively address racial inequality and discrimination.