Facing Race Conference: Attendee Reflections

December 1, 2022

Last month, several Neighborhood House staff attended the Facing Race Conference. We were treated to an incredible speech by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Anti-Racist, and Stamped From the Beginning, and many sessions presented by race and equity experts and practitioners.

One of the sessions I attended was The Trojan Horse in Social Movements: Transforming Power & Oppression the Nonprofit Industrial Complex presented by Amani Olugbala and Damaris Miller

“The Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) refers to a system of relationships between the state (or local and federal governments), the owning classes, foundations, and non-profit/NGO social service and social justice organizations that results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements.”

As someone whose dedicated her professional career to bettering the lives of others, it was pretty jarring to hear that Neighborhood House and the myriad nonprofits that do the important work of helping people experiencing poverty and instability simultaneously uphold oppressive systems. The presenters used a metaphor of a Trojan horse (when we – the nonprofit sector – are used to hide someone’s true purpose or intentions) to describe how NPIC works.

For example, using our government funding to influence legislation (lobbying) is prohibited. Some of our grants (Head Start and CSBG) even prohibit us from using their funds to register voters!

Fortunately, there are some steps we can take (and already are) taking to disrupt the NPIC. The steps are represented using the acronym: TRANSFORM – Transparency, Accountable, Networks, Systemically, Fortifying & Organizing, Resistance, Movements.

Check out their presentation (linked above) to learn more.

By Janice Deguchi, Executive Director