From Cameron Whitten, Co-Founder of Black Resilience Fund
When I first heard about the murder of George Floyd–I braced myself.
I’ve been a Black Lives Matter activist since Black Lives Matter. Given the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most especially Eric Garner, I didn’t expect much to happen. A couple of hashtags, maybe a rally or two, and of course, the ephemeral thoughts and prayers.
What I didn’t expect was the flood of calls and texts I received from White friends and colleagues, asking if I was okay and if I needed any personal support. Due to my own privilege, I was relatively okay, but I decided to do something to help some Black people I knew were not being taken care of. With just one Facebook post, we raised $11,000 in less than 11 hours. The next day, I officially launched the Black Resilience Fund (BRF) and raised $55,000 by the end of the day.
I was soon joined by friend and policy advocate Salomé Chimuku as Co-founder of the Black Resilience Fund. With our lived-experiences as Black and Queer survivors of trauma, we worked together to create a trauma-informed approach within the Fund. We welcomed the entire Black diaspora to participate: elders, immigrants, LGBTQ2S+, multiracial–– all shades and shapes of Black. Every Black Portlander who has applied for funds is interviewed by another Black Portlander, building community among peers during some of the most isolating times.
In two months, the Black Resilience Fund has raised $1.4 million, distributed $700,000, and served over 2,200 Black Portlanders. In addition to providing financial assistance, we launched a mutual network for distributing food boxes, performing household repairs, yard work, emotional support, and more. BRF recipients, from domestic violence survivors to individuals still waiting for unemployment insurance, have told us that BRF has served as a lifeline.
One of the core guiding values is that everyone ––including our staff, volunteers, and participants–– are worthy to give and receive love, and connection. Our work is so much more than dollars and cents.
With our nation grappling with a global pandemic and centuries of unresolved justice, we believe healing starts by taking care of our neighbors.