What is Black feminism and how is the Black Feminist Fund moving funds to work led by Black women?

In this episode of #OnWhatMatters, Black Feminist Fund co-founder, Tynesha McHarris, speaks with Ford Foundation vice president of program, Hilary Pennington, on her work and how she dreamed up this new radical philanthropic initiative at her kitchen table.

“When you find yourself on a cliff, the scary part is, you know, you feel the dangling. I think that’s when the things that we thought were never possible happen—because what else do we have to risk? And I think we’re in that kind of moment, so I am deciding to be hopeful. I think we might break some things we never thought could be broken.”

You can learn more about the Black Feminist Fund and their work in our Q&A with the three co-founders.

Other videos in this series

32:15
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Decolonizing Humanitarian Aid With Degan Ali and Martín Abregú

Degan Ali and Martín Abregú talk about shifting to locally led development and decolonizing aid. Degan shares why we must rethink current structures of providing aid and have local civic society organizations play a stronger and more strategic role in global policy debates.

32:15
Saliem Fakir has dark cropped hair and wire frame eye glasses and is wearing a dark blazer over a light sweater and button down shirt. To his left appears the text: On what matters with Saliem Fakir

Working Towards a Truly Just Energy Transition with Hilary Pennington and Saliem Fakir

Saliem Fakir, the founder and executive director of the African Climate Foundation, the first grantmaking foundation in Africa focused on furthering solutions for sustainable climate development, joins Hilary Pennington to discuss the urgent need to address climate change and South Africa’s promising Just Energy Transition Partnership.

26:46
Timnit Gebru has dark curly hair in an afro, wearing a gray top and a light-colored scarf around her neck. To her left appears the text: On what matters with Timnit Gebru.

Making AI systems more just with Hilary Pennington and Dr. Timnit Gebru

Dr. Timnit Gebru, founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR), joins Hilary Pennington to discuss how an inclusive and collaborative approach to creating AI systems can address the uneven benefits and harmful impacts of technology on society.

22:48
Fernanda Hopenhaym has long wavy black hair and is wearing a black top and wearing dark rimmed eye glasses. To her left appears the text: On what matters with Fernanda Hopenhaym.

Holding corporations accountable with Hilary Pennington and Fernanda Hopenhaym

Fernanda Hopenhaym is the co-executive director of the Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER), a nonprofit in Latin America that pushes for corporate accountability for human rights and environmental abuses. Fernanda and Hilary discuss how to keep businesses ethical and transparent by using feminist and human rights organizing strategies.

25:23
Gita Syahrani has short black hair and is wearing a button up stripped shirt with the sleeves rolled up. To her left appears the text: On what matters with Gita Syahrani.

Saving forests while eradicating poverty with Hilary Pennington and Gita Syahrani

Hilary Pennington talks with Gita Syahrani about how engaging Indigenous and local communities in sustainability efforts can lead to greater economic mobility for them. Her work shows how civic engagement at the district level can have global impact.

24:20
Dr. Herminia Palacio has shoulder-length dreaded hair locks and is wearing dark-rimmed glasses and a floral print dress. To her left appears the text: On what matters with Herminia Palacio.

The future of reproductive justice with Hilary Pennington and Dr. Herminia Palacio

Hilary Pennington and Dr. Herminia Palacio discuss this moment in the reproductive justice movement, how different communities are impacted, and what the United States can learn from countries that have won gender and reproductive health victories.

27:36
Dessa Cosma has long wavy hair and is wearing a black v-neck t-shirt. To her left appears the text: On what matters with Dessa Cosma.

Reimagining how we think about disability with Hilary Pennington and Dessa Cosma

Hilary Pennington talks to Dessa Cosma about disability justice and inclusion. They discuss the importance of using intersectional approaches to activism and how to restructure the economy to be more just for disabled people.

11:06
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a multi-colored patterned top and sitting on an orange chair. Geetanjali Misra has black shoulder length hair hair, and is wearing a flower patterned top and red and black framed eye glasses..

The future of feminism: Hilary Pennington with Geetanjali Misra

Geetanjali Misra has bore witness to the evolution of feminism both on the ground in the U.S. and India and in her work as an activist. Seeing patterns change and movements shift, she speaks about the importance of intersectionality in building a more inclusive feminist future.

11:47
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a multi-colored patterned top and sitting on an orange chair. Poonam Joshi has a black short hair hair, and is wearing a black top.

COVID’s impact on civic space: Hilary Pennington with Poonam Joshi

Civic space is essential for democracy. It allows people to participate in society and communicate freely and without discrimination. But, according to Poonam Joshi, director of Funders’ Initiative for Civil Society director, there are threats that need to be addressed before we solidify the civil society we want in the future.

12:55
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a green top and sitting on an orange chair. Laura Garcia has a short black hair, is wearing a white blouse and wearing dark rimmed glasses..

Philanthropy and environmental justice: Hilary Pennington with Laura García

When it comes to climate change, time is running out. But communities all over the world are working on solutions, and philanthropy needs to center their ideas and perspectives to win this fight. Laura Garcia, CEO of GlobalGreen Grants Fund, shares how funding grassroots movements can address challenges at the intersection of social and environmental justice.

11:47
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a yellow top with green scarf and sitting on an orange chair. Mariana Valente has a short bleached blond hair, is wearing a  white polkadot top and standing outside in front of a stone wall with bushes in the background..

Technology and gender: Hilary Pennington with Mariana Valente

The internet is a force for good, but it must be guided by fundamental human and privacy rights and offer social protection, said InternetLab director Mariana Valente. In this way, technology can advance equality and, with the right policies in place, be used as a tool for advocates to organize.

11:33
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a blue denim blouse and sitting on an orange chair. Moky Makura has a short black afro, is wearing a blue patterned jacket over a white top.

The power of storytelling: Hilary Pennington with Moky Makura

For too long, Africa has been defined in the media by stereotypes and oversimplified narratives. With Ford’s support, Africa No Filter is disrupting these narratives by empowering storytellers helping to create a nuanced, balanced view of the continent and an equitable, inclusive way of how to partner with it.

09:53
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a beige tank top and necklace; Saket Soni is wearing a blue denim collared shirt and black, round, rimmed glasses.

What essential workers need right now: Hilary Pennington with Saket Soni

Disasters present the opportunity to bring us together and give us the chance to reevaluate our priorities and ask what’s really important. Labor organizer Saket Soni sees COVID-19 as a prologue to other threats, like climate change. He says disaster responses need to focus on strengthening essential workers.

10:48
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a black flower-patterned collared shirt under a maroon crew neck sweater. Teresa Younger has a short black afro and is wearing a light-blue blouse.

Philanthropy and Black women: Hilary Pennington with Teresa C. Younger

Social justice organizations led by women of color often receive less funding. Teresa C. Younger, CEO of the Ms. Foundation, explains why philanthropy needs to center women of color to address systemic racism and uplift women and girls of color for a more just future.

09:49
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a dark blue top and sitting on an orange chair. Hakima Abbas has short black curly hair, is wearing gold wire-rimmed glasses and a white blouse.

How young feminists are organizing: Hilary Pennington with Hakima Abbas

COVID-19 has impacted the way we work, but it also exacerbated gender inequality in the workplace. Hakima Abbas, of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, believes we can prevent any further damage by including feminist leaders across the board in devising solutions.

9:00
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a magenta-colored top, Tim Delaney has wire-rimmed glasses and is wearing a blue button-down shirt.

How nonprofits make an impact: Hilary Pennington with Tim Delaney

Over one million nonprofits exist in the United States, but Tim Delaney, the CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, has an idea to make them even more impactful. To him, bringing social justice groups together can transform philanthropy for the benefit of all.

08:25
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a multi-colored top, hoop earrings, and sitting on an orange chair. Marielena Hincapié has shoulder-length black hair and is wearing a burgundy blouse.

Immigrants are essential: Hilary Pennington with Marielena Hincapié

Immigration has been used as a weapon to divide the United States. The National Immigration Law Center aims to help the country understand that immigrants are not only important members of our communities and essential workers, but they are also valuable political constituencies needed to make American democracy work.

11:16
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a black and white spotted blouse and sitting on an orange chair. Bridgit Antoinette Evans has a short black afro, is wearing blue-rimmed glasses and a multi-colored scarf over a white top.

Social justice and pop culture: Hilary Pennington with Bridgit Antoinette Evans

Pop culture plays an important role in advancing social justice. Bridgit Evans of Pop Culture Collaborative produces cultural strategies that build on points of connection to ensure policy changes are not just symbolic. By finding commonalities through culture, she believes we can create a world where everyone feels they belong.

10:23
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing an orange turtle neck sweater. Anannya Bhattacharjee has short black hair and is wearing a blue and white patterned sweater over a beige and white blouse.

Global work needs to be local: Hilary Pennington with Anannya Bhattacharjee

While the labor movement has worked to improve the lives of garment factory workers globally, activist Anannya Bhattacharjee advocates that solutions need to start locally and come from the ground up to have a significant impact on workers’ lives.

10:24
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing a blue collared top; Erica Smiley has short black hair and is wearing a blue collared button-down shirt with black-rimmed glasses.

Essential workers are the economy: Hilary Pennington with Erica Smiley

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we as a world work. As we face this inflection point, Erica Smiley, executive director of Jobs With Justice, believes people—especially essential workers—need to have the right to come together collectively to organize and negotiate their conditions to build a global economy that works for all.

07:40
Hilary Pennington has short hair with blond highlights and is wearing gold hoop earrings and a blue blouse, and Eric Ward is wearing a multi-colored flannel shirt with a dark blazer.

The urgency of this social moment: Hilary Pennington with Eric Ward

We need to dismantle racism to make inclusive democracy truly possible. Eric Ward of Western States Center believes smaller movements can help support bigger waves of change. From creating cohorts of emerging leaders to encouraging small group interactions can help protect democracy and put an end to white supremacy.