About Nonprofit Wakanda Quarterly
Imagining a Nonprofit Wakanda: A Manifesto is an articulation project that creates space for self-identified Black/African Diasporic leaders/dreamers to share their vision for a city and a sector that centers Black lives and works to protect, celebrate, and secure prosperous, beautiful Black futures.
For those of you familiar with the 2018 Marvel movie "Black Panther", Wakanda is a fictional African country where, in all of its glory, Blackness is centered, elevated, celebrated, and well resourced.
This project, this manifesto, is a radical re-imagining of what NYC will look like if Black leadership and Black communities are centered, supported, and resourced. From healthcare, social services, housing to centers of spirituality and restoration, imagining a Nonprofit Wakanda not only provides space for aspiration, but it also is a set of demands and directives from Black leadership to the sector and the city more broadly.
We need space to dream and aspire so that we can work toward the future that we, as Black people, Black leaders, and Black community members want to see. We know our past--from African Kings and Queens to Black Wall Street--we know that our legacy is one of resilience, beauty, power, and art. Now is the time for us to envision the future. We also invite our People of Color (POC) and Indigenous family to contribute who are in solidarity with this shared vision, none of us are free until we are all free.
We are inviting you to write and submit a 2-3 page contribution to the manifesto. It can be from your organizational vantage point, or it can be from any other type of leadership/personal/spiritual/radical perspective you want to explore. Whether you are a nonprofit ED, a board member, an organizer, a community leader, a donor, scholar, researcher, a parent, a man, a woman, non-binary, trans, etc. we invite you to bring your full selves into this Black Future.
If you’ve taken a leap, what was the runway you needed? If you wanted to take a leap, but didn’t, what held you back?
Those questions were the prompts for this quarter’s edition of Nonprofit Wakanda Quarterly. Most people growing up in the United States, either from birth or as settlers from other lands, have heard some form of the adage, “leap and the net will appear.” It’s a beautiful image, of someone taking that leap of faith and a net unspooling from nowhere to create a soft landing. But the adage assumes that there’s no one actively dismantling the net as soon as we even start thinking about leaving the ground. It assumes that we are all equally positioned to take advantage of springboards or trampolines that propel us to hurl ourselves into the unknown. And if the net doesn’t appear, it’s never the net’s fault, it’s simply assumed that we didn’t believe strongly enough in ourselves or that some innate fault caused our gait to falter or our trajectory to become smaller.
Those of us in the BIPOC community know that there is no such thing as a magical net. If we’ve ever benefitted from a soft landing, we know that every thread of our net was crafted from the wisdom, joy, fear and pain of those who came before us. From the tired bones of guardians working late into the night or early into the morning to put food on the table or a tuition payment into someone else’s bank account. From the blood, sweat and tears of our forebears whose minds and bodies were worn down by the contempt of white superiority. From the lullabies and baths that were lovingly gifted night after night. And from the hands that held ours and supported us as we took our first steps forward.
The strength of this community is mighty. Each submission in this issue yields another thread for those who come after us. Janine Quijije gifts us with an anthology from herself and her sister friends. She takes us on a literal leap. Danielle Pulliam and Rae Negron model how to weave our own threads and, in so doing, cast out threads for others. Latasha Wright, Ph.D. reminds us of the power of defining ourselves for ourselves and that creating art that reflects who we are can encourage others to see themselves for the first time. Jenny Negron is using her leadership to put footprints in the net so that others can follow.
In the standalone pieces, Lakimja Mattocks reminds us that there is always a choice, but not all choices are easy. That even time acts differently in the BIPOC community. Dannielle Thomas continues the theme of time and adds the importance of noticing and acting on the powerful messages the net can convey. Noel McKenzie brings it home with a reminder of the power of true icons and the wisdom that echoes in the fibers long after the voice has been laid to rest.
Take heart and pride in these stories from our community. Find the threads that you can hold or build with your own stories of bravery. And recognize that one person’s tentative step forward is another’s leap of 1,000 miles.
Senior Director, Membership
Communities in Schools
Chief Advancement Officer
Chief Scientific Officer
Senior Program Officer
Senior Affiliate Consultant
Philanthropic Advisor & Strategist
Spring-Summer 2021 Contributors
Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
Director of Liberatory Leadership and Sterling Network Organizer
Lutheran Social Services of NY
President & CEO
Executive Recruiter, Children's Book Author, Mom, Wife
Renewed Focus Psychology Service / The Axon Group
Direct Service Coordinator