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Faithful Utterances: The greatness within you

by Froswa Booker-Drew
Froswa’ Booker-Drew

Last week, I was fortunate to attend an event sponsored by ISP Creative to focus on four giving circles in my area.

All of these circles are designed by and for women of color. I am fortunate to serve as co-founder of HERitage Giving Circle (heritagegivingfund.org) which focuses on providing funding for Black women-led nonprofits serving Black women and girls.

I am so grateful for the vision of Akilah Wallace to include Dr. Halima Leak-Francis and me to be a part of making this dream a reality in 2017.

Since that time, we have raised over $100,000 of our funds to support these organizations.

This work has not been easy but I’m so excited for the future and newer, younger leadership taking this dream to the next level.

We started this organization because we saw that organizations led by Black women were not receiving the funding they deserved. Data also confirmed what we were experiencing and witnessing as well. The Ms. Foundation’s Pocket Change report offers an affirmation of what we knew:

  • Organizations that serve a specific subpopulation, like Black or African American women or girls, were more likely to have budgets under $50,000 whereas 73.7% of all other organizations had budgets over $50,000.
  • According to an article in Candid, “In 2018, just $15 million out of almost $428 billion in philanthropic giving in the United States reached Black women and girls. That means less than 1 percent” is given to support our communities by philanthropy. This is why organizations like HERitage are critical.

Being “othered” is not new for our community, especially for Black women. This “othering” shows up as I mentioned last week in the workplace causing significant stress including in the case of Dr. Antoinette Candia-Bailey, death.

This “othering” also shows up in our ability to fund our efforts that allow us to contribute to our community’s well-being.

In the Bible, one of my favorite characters is Hagar from Genesis 16. In the book, Reimagining Hagar: Blackness and Bible, the author elaborates on the different identities of Hagar: She was a woman. She was Egyptian—an African—living among Hebrews.

Hagar was a maidservant given to Abraham because Sarah could not conceive. She ultimately experienced the anger of Sarah and chose not to stay and submit to the mistreatment.

She left the place that had been her residence—keeping in mind that she was also taken from Egypt to enslavement. She left behind not only the abuse but the known for the unknown. Hagar knew trauma.

It is in the wilderness that Hagar encounters God. Hagar is the first person to give God a name: El Roi, “The God who sees me” (Gen 16:13).

She goes back to deliver her son Ishmael. 13 years later, Sarah has her son, Issac, whom God had made the covenant with to continue his promise through Abraham.

Sarah says “Get rid of that slave woman” because she did not want Ishmael to have Isaac’s inheritance (Gen. 21:10). As they left, Abraham gave her water and bread which ultimately ran out. In the wilderness with no resources and support, she worried that her son would die.

An angel of the Lord told her that God heard Ishmael’s cry and asked, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is.” (Genesis 21:17) God tells her that Ishmael will be responsible for a great nation and her eyes were opened to see a well of water.

Here is a lesson: In our struggles and our “othering,” God not only provides resources but opens our eyes to what we do not see—the possibilities.

I hope that we open our eyes to witness what God is doing around us, that we trust God’s plan, and continue to make a difference even when others do not see who we are or value what we bring.

Scripture reminds us: “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.” (Galatians 6:9-10 MSG)

Hagar teaches us not to give up on us! Greatness lies within…

Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the President of Soulstice Consultancy, LLC and the Founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration (r2fdn.org) Foundation. The author of 4 books including Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy, Dr. Booker-Drew is also the host of the Tapestry Podcast.

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