Racial Equity

WKKF joins UNESCO’s global forum on racism and discrimination


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Last November, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held its second annual Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination. The forum, in Mexico City, was hosted by the government of Mexico, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, Canada and the Republic of Korea. In 2020, UNESCO had committed to strengthening its contribution to the global fight against racism and discrimination. This year’s theme was “Post-Covid Recovery” – addressing the adverse impacts that racism and discrimination have had on vulnerable populations.

Over the two days at Los Pinos – an estate once reserved for the president of Mexico – more than 90 individuals from across the world spoke as part of more than a dozen panels, ceremonies and side events. Conversations tackled educational, legal, policy, institutional and civil society approaches to fighting racism and discrimination globally.

Among the panelists were representatives of WKKF grantee COPERA, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about racism in Mexico. COPERA coordinator Judith Bautista Pérez served on a panel about the role of civil society and movements in the fight against racism and discrimination. She described ways in which individuals in Mexico can deconstruct racism against Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities on a daily basis, including questioning normalized privileging of certain identities over others. COPERA member Marco Pérez Jiménez, from the University Program for the Study of Cultural Diversity and Interculturality at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, spoke on a panel on anti-Asian racism. He emphasized that a tremendous amount of work remains to be done in labor, academic and educational spheres to combat anti-Asian hate in Latin America.

During the final panel, about approaches for mobilizing resources to combat racial inequity and discrimination, WKKF’s Carla Thompson Payton, vice president for program strategy, spoke about the foundation’s journey to become an anti-racism organization, which includes hard work to change from within, as well as letting communities lead.

“Our role as philanthropy is to step out of the way, leverage the power that we have for our financial resources,” she said, “to ensure that people have a chance to tell their own story, to ask for the things that they want, to demand the things that they want, and to be in a leadership position to make those changes.”

Finally, in the closing ceremony, Thompson Payton delivered a speech highlighting the foundation’s work in Mexico and the Racial Equity 2030 challenge. She introduced representatives of the challenge’s five awardees – ActionAid, Communities United, Indian Law Resource Center, Namati, and Partners in Development Foundation – who were present at the forum and who will be working over the next eight years to apply a total of $80 million to their work toward racial equity around the world. 

Thompson Payton also said the Kellogg Foundation is honored to be a sponsor of the event and that the connections made this week could be a vital part of moving the work forward.

“As you know, racial equity is a core pillar of who we are as an organization and is the fight that we fight every single day on behalf of children, families and communities,” she said. “And we hope that the conversations that you’ve heard this week … are really inspiring you to stay in this fight to do this hard work, to partner with us and with each other to eliminate racism.”


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