Leaders from across the country share concrete steps for dismantling white supremacy as a path toward economic and social mobility
Created in 2012, the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship program brings together leaders from across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to advance bold ideas that can move the needle on health and well-being and offer concrete economic and social mobility pathways for children and their families. Today, the third cohort of fellows is made up of visionary leaders breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty for America’s children and families. As a continuation of this effort, the fellows have released a joint call to action to dismantle white supremacy and create a new social contract, beginning with a process of truth and reconciliation.
“We come from an array of racial and ethnic backgrounds and represent diverse fields of expertise, but we stand united in our belief that cycles of multigenerational poverty can be broken, and that every child and family can thrive when our work is family-centered and equity-driven,” said Dr. Wendy Ellis, Ascend Fellow and Director of the Center for Community Resilience at the George Washington University. “We also stand united in our demand that White supremacy be named, interrogated, and addressed through specific action.”
John Farnam, Ascend Fellow and Community Investment Liaison with the Morgridge Family Foundation, adds, “We cannot ‘move on’ from the past without acknowledging the harm that has been done. There is a direct sightline from our country’s original sin of indigenous genocide and slavery, to Jim Crow laws and mass incarceration. It is within each of us to do what we can to change that. We must recognize White supremacy within the construct of our society as the first step in this journey. We then must dismantle it if we are to ensure the door of opportunity is open to all. Our voice and our access to systems and power are our greatest tools in rebuilding an America with a new social contract where the equitable application of justice and opportunity prevail.”
“We see these as the first clauses of a new social contract for America, committed to dismantling inequity and building a nation free of structural racism in policy and deed,” shared Joe Jones, Ascend Fellow and Founder and CEO of the Center for Urban Families, Inc.
Anthony Barrows, Ascend Fellow and Managing Director of ideas42, noted that groups like the Aspen Ascend Fellows have a unique and important voice in the national dialogue about dismantling structural racism. “By learning from each other and supporting this work collectively, we have an opportunity – and obligation - to move the needle, challenging ourselves and our organizations to deliver on the promise of America.”
As a next step, the Ascend Fellows are working with the Aspen Institute and other national and philanthropic partners to establish a framework for a national truth and reconciliation process. “We look forward to working collectively and collaboratively toward this new social contract and welcome all interested parties to join us in this essential undertaking,” said Joe Hobot, Ascend Fellow and President and CEO of the American Indian OIC.
Full statement can be read here.
For more information, please email AscendFellows3@gmail.com.