Dear BUILD Community,
In the current climate of our nation, many grassroots organizations operate as a voice for the Black-IPoC communities in the Greater Seattle area. Organizations like Brothers United In Leadership Development (BUILD) and many others focus on rebuilding the community and giving our community a voice regarding systemic racism, criminal justice reform, and institutionalized inequalities. Our work and the work of our volunteers and community members have been pivotal in moving the needle towards justice for our Black-IPoC communities.
BUILD was recently featured in an article without our knowledge, sponsored by a large corporation. To see our name used as props for advertising by this corporation was demeaning. Using Black-IPoC organization's names and likeness without their permission only adds to the systemic issues and harm that our communities continue to deal with. For decades, we’ve seen large corporations cherry-pick the very best our Black-IPoC communities have to offer for their profit. The continued appropriation of our culture, talent, and intellectual property for the benefit of majority-white-led corporations must come to an end.
We are disappointed that this corporation did not take the time and care to communicate with BUILD before using BUILD as props for advertising and moving forward with releasing the news article and capitalizing on a timeline for marketing trends such as Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement. Moreover, we prefer to review donations from corporations to be sure their values and practices align with our principles. Not allowing the time or space for these is not a step in the right direction. These tactics and strategies create more harm to Black-IPoC organizations and communities. Specifically for BUILD, this created a lot of confusion, stress, and anxiety for our Leadership Members and our community.
Moreover, the use of any Black-IPoC organization’s names and/or likeness without their permission only aids to the systemic issues that our communities continue to deal with. For decades, we’ve seen large corporations cherry-pick the very best our Black-IPoC communities have to offer for their profit. The continued appropriation of our culture, talent, and intellectual property for the benefit of majority-white-led corporations must come to an end. BUILD met with this corporation to take a stand against these tactics, strategies, and actions. The recognition of our work is appreciated, but the methods used were inappropriate and unacceptable. During the meeting, instead of a true apology and/or appreciation for the work being done, a small sum of unrestricted funding was offered up. Unfortunately, the meeting did not result in a retraction of the article.
BUILD appreciates the fact that this corporation did not require community-based organizations to go through the normal request for proposal/application process to receive funding. We also want to point out the fact that this corporation had its staff reach out to the community to find out who was doing what within the community and made its funding decisions based on that. We feel that these are steps in the right direction for corporations, government, and philanthropy to get funding to the folks/organizations doing the real work making the greatest impact in their communities.
BUILD has informed the corporation of our disappointment and requested that they make changes in their tactics immediately. We have also requested that the funding be offered to other grassroots organizations doing real work within Black-IPoC communities. Our last request was that they truly work to build real relationships with Black-IPoC communities to enact real change. Not just throw money at them for marketing and tax benefits.