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The Braided Wisdom Of Black Women

Dear reader, 

The growth and well-being of Black hair depends on trust-based care from those who understand its unique characteristics— its kinks, curls, edges, and coils. For Black women, our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts are the experts who have nurtured and tended to our hair with love and skill. Their hands are tools of tenderness, and their feet a place of discovery. With each braid and twist, they impart wisdom and affirmations that shape our understanding of the world and our place in it

It is this legacy of trust-based care that empowered us to create the Black Future Co-op Fund in 2020. As four Black women and leaders in the nonprofit industry, we came together in the wake of George Floyd’s senseless murder to resist helplessness and mobilize around building a new model of philanthropy. We knew that Black liberation could only be achieved through sustained investment in our own communities.

The Black Future Co-op Fund is a cooperative philanthropy led by Black Washingtonians for Black Washingtonians. With less than two percent of philanthropic dollars going to Black-led nonprofits, we are committed to disrupting this philanthropic paradigm that historically has made it exceedingly difficult for Black-led nonprofits to access the resources they need. 

Just as our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts listened to us with care and attention, we listen to our community and invest in community-backed solutions that prioritize Black generational wealth, health, and well-being. The Black community groups and nonprofits at the helm of these solutions are the fiercest advocates of Black well-being. They are the bastions of care in Black communities across Washington state, working to be good ancestors and realize a world where all Black people can thrive. 

Since launching, the Black Future Coop Fund has invested $2.75 million in We See You grants to 60 Black-led groups and nonprofits, supporting their ability to serve their communities through arts and culture, restorative healing, educational innovation, policy development, and more. Our most recent round of funding in March 2022 fuels the powerful Black-woman-led work happening statewide.

The Black Future Co-op Fund reaches new heights each year; still our ultimate goal is to raise an endowment of $246 million—$1 million for each year of institutional slavery in the United States. This number is only audacious to those who don’t know the Black women whose shoulders we stand on. 

This Women’s History Month, we’re honored to share their names and stories, pay tribute to their lives, and amplify the wisdom they braided into us in this special Seattle Medium edition. Every article and art piece in this compilation lifts up Black women. Behind each author and artist is a village of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and mentors who created the precedents they embrace and the blueprints they’ve stepped into. We are honored to hold space for them to share their gratitude to the Black women who’ve shaped them in the 28 pages of this special edition. 

The historic Black Well-being: Moving Toward Solutions Together report, published last December, outlined a community-defined vision of Black wellbeing in Washington state for the first time. Like the three-strand braids our elders once bestowed upon us like crowns while we rested on their laps, that vision calls for a weaving of past and present, a bridging of young and old, a connecting of solutions in civic engagement, education, economic mobility, public safety, and health, and a sealant of trust. We invite you into the vision and the learning with this special edition as we work collectively toward Black prosperity now and for future generations.

In love and solidarity, 

T’wina Nobles, CEO and co-architect 

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, co-architect 

Angela Jones, co-architect 

Michelle Merriweather, co-architect