Sector Articles / Reports / Resources

In regions throughout the US, foundations and philanthropic groups convene panels, conduct webinars and interviews, create press releases, and develop various multi-media products to showcase the impact of philanthropic investment in Black communities. In this section, ABFE has compiled a growing list of these products to document the evolution of Black male initiatives in philanthropy and to highlight data of particular interest to members and colleagues throughout its networks.
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The Color of Justice: Transitional Justice and the Legacy of Slavery and Racism in the United States

April 26, 2021

This briefing paper examines how transitional justice approaches can guide the discussion around dismantling systemic racism in the United States to focus on root causes of violence and racial injustice. Drawing from relevant experiences internationally and within the United States, it provides ideas for what steps can be taken to advance acknowledgment, redress harms linked to the legacy of slavery, reform institutions, and prevent future recurrences.

Approaching the Intersection: Will a Global Pandemic and National Movement for Racial Justice Take Philanthropy Beyond Its Silos?

January 19, 2021

How is the philanthropic sector responding to the interconnected inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and the national movement against policy brutality and racism? Is this time of acute social upheaval leading funders to reevaluate their generally siloed approaches and consider what it will take to address today's challenges in transformational ways? Approaching the Intersection: Will a Global Pandemic and National Movement for Racial Justice Take Philanthropy Beyond Its Silos? explores these questions through conversations with place-based funders and national philanthropy-serving organization (PSO) leaders. It presents a snapshot of a sector that appears receptive to new ways of working, has access to approaches that suggest promise for making transformational change, but is moving cautiously and at times hesitantly toward undertaking the types of fundamental institutional realignment that will enable approaches with the greatest promise for delivering systemic equity and justice.

Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois

June 29, 2020

This first-of-its-kind study confirms that more than 3.3 million people in Illinois could be impacted by permanent punishments as a result of prior "criminal justice system" involvement, which is more accurately referred to as the "criminal legal system" given the well-documented inequities that bring into question whether the system actually brings justice to people who come into contact with it."Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois," lifts up that permanent punishments are the numerous laws and barriers aimed at people with records that limit their human rights and restrict access to the crucial resources needed to re-build their lives, such as employment, housing, and education. The report recommends a broad dismantling of permanent punishments, so that those who have been involved with the criminal legal system have the opportunity to fully participate in society.The data illustrates the dramatic number of people who may be living with the stigma and limitations of a criminal record in Illinois. Since the advent of mass incarceration in 1979, there are an estimated 3.3 million adults who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Illinois. Under current laws, these individuals have limited rights even after their criminal legal system involvement has ended. In fact, the report uncovered a vast web of 1,189 laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records, often indefinitely.

Proposals for Improved Regulation of Harmful Online Content

June 17, 2020

In its early life the internet inspired optimism that it would improve the world and its people, but that has been supplanted by alarm about harmful, often viral words and images. Though the vast majority of online content is still innocuous or beneficial, the internet is also polluted by hatred: some individuals and groups suffer harassment or attacks, while others are exposed to content that inspires them to hate or fear other people, or even to commit mass murder.Hateful and harmful messages are so widespread online that the problem is not specific to any culture or country, nor can such content be easily classified under terms like "hate speech" or "extremism": it is too varied. Even the people who produce harmful content, and their motivations for doing so, are diverse. Online service providers (OSPs) have built systems to diminish harmful content, but those are inadequate for the complex task at hand and have fundamental flaws that cannot be solved by tweaking the rules, as the companies have been doing so far. The stakeholders who have the least say in how speech is regulated are precisely those who are subject to that regulation: internet users. "I've come to believe that we shouldn't make so many important decisions about speech on our own," Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and a founder of Facebook, wrote last year. He is correct.Daunting though the problem is, there are many opportunities for improvement, but they have been largely overlooked. The widespread distress about it is itself an opportunity, since that means millions of people are paying attention, and it will take broad participation to build online norms against harmful content. Such mass participation is neither far-fetched nor unfamiliar: many beneficial campaigns and social movements have been born and developed thanks to mass participation online.This paper offers a set of specific proposals for better describing harmful content online and for reducing the damage it causes, while protecting freedom of expression. The ideas are mainly meant for OSPs since they regulate the vast majority of online content; taken together they operate the largest system of censorship the world has ever known, controlling more human communication than any government. Governments, for their part, have tried to berate or force the companies into changing their policies, with limited and often repressive results. For these reasons, this paper focuses on what OSPs should do to diminish harmful content online.The proposals focus on the rules that form the basis of each regulation system, as well as on other crucial steps in the regulatory process, such as communicating rules to platform users, giving multiple stakeholders a role in regulation, and enforcement of the rules. 

Waiting to Vote : Racial Disparities in Election Day Experiences

June 3, 2020

For this report, we analyzed data from two nationwide election surveys regarding the 2018 election: the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a 60,000-person survey on Election Day experiences, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's Election Administration and Voting Survey, which asks administrators detailed questions about how they conduct elections. We also interviewed nearly three dozen state and local election administrators. Further, we examined the electoral statutes on the books in every state in the nation to understand the sources of disparate wait times in 2018 and develop policy recommendations for lawmakers and election officials ahead of 2020. Some previous research has investigated the relationship between wait times and electoral resources — specifically polling places, voting machines, and poll workers. 8 But no prior study has examined the relationship on a nationwide scale.

A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform

April 1, 2020

This report details marijuana arrests from 2010 to 2018 and examines racial disparities at the national, state, and county levels. The report reveals that the racist war on marijuana is far from over. More than six million arrests occurred between 2010 and 2018, and Black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those that have legalized marijuana. With detailed recommendations for governments and law enforcement agencies, this report provides a detailed road map for ending the War on Marijuana and ensuring legalization efforts center racial justice.

Counterspeech: A Literature Review

November 20, 2019

Every day, internet users encounter hateful and dangerous speech online, and some of them choose to respond directly in order to refute or undermine it. We call this counterspeech. Only a few studies have attempted to measure the effectiveness of counterspeech directly, and as far as we know, this is the first review of relevant literature.We've collected and reviewed related articles from a range of fields including political science, sociology, countering violent extremism, and computational social science. These articles do not all use the term "counterspeech," but they shed light on various features of successful counterspeech, for example, qualities that make speakers/authors more influential in online interactions or the extent to which pro- and anti-social behavior is contagious on the internet.

Win-Win: Equipping Housing Providers to Open Doors to Housing for People With Criminal Records

July 12, 2019

In Illinois, nearly 5 million adults, 50% of the population, are estimated to have an arrest or conviction record. Housing is foundational for employment success, family stability, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, criminal history checks are a typical part of the housing application processes, and many people with records are declined housing opportunities they would otherwise be a good fit for, but for the criminal record.  Our goal for Win-Win was to develop user-friendly guidance about the use of criminal records in screening and housing applicants, and to provide recommendations that housing providers can adopt and adapt, in whole or in part, to increase housing opportunities for people with criminal records.  

Dangerous Speech: A Practical Guide

December 31, 2018

No one has ever been born hating or fearing other people. That has to be taught – and those harmful lessons seem to be similar, though they're given in highly disparate cultures, languages, and places. Leaders have used particular kinds of rhetoric to turn groups of people violently against one another throughout human history, by demonizing and denigrating others. Vocabulary varies but the same themes recur: members of other groups are depicted as threats so serious that violence against them comes to seem acceptable or even necessary. Such language (or images or any other form of communication) is what we have termed "Dangerous Speech."Naming and studying Dangerous Speech can be useful for violence prevention, in several ways. First, a rise in the abundance or severity of Dangerous Speech can serve as an early warning indicator for violence between groups. Second, violence might be prevented or at least diminished by limiting Dangerous Speech or its harmful effects on people. We do not believe this can or should be achieved through censorship. Instead, it's possible to educate people so they become less susceptible to (less likely to believe) Dangerous Speech. The ideas described here have been used around the world, both to monitor and to counter Dangerous Speech.This guide, a revised version of an earlier text (Benesch, 2013) defines Dangerous Speech, explains how to determine which messages are indeed dangerous, and illustrates why the concept is useful for preventing violence. We also discuss how digital and social media allow Dangerous Speech to spread and threaten peace, and describe some promising methods for reducing Dangerous Speech – or its harmful effects on people.

Open Roads and Overflowing Jails: Addressing High Rates of Rural Pretrial Incarceration

May 30, 2018

The axiom that a person is considered innocent of a criminal act until he or shehas been proven guilty is a bedrock principle of the American criminal justicesystem. Yet in many jurisdictions, it appears to have been forgotten. The pretrialpopulation of defendants has significantly increased—particularly in rural areasof the country. Jails in smaller jurisdictions are responsible for an outsized shareof jail population growth. Indeed, from 1970 to 2014, jail populations grew byalmost sevenfold in small counties but only threefold in large counties.This paper explores why this growth may have occurred and makes numerousrecommendations to reduce pretrial populations, particularly in rural America.The first place to start is by reducing the number of offenses carrying the potential

The Patriot’s Guide to Freedom and Firearms

April 18, 2018

The 10 principles provided here, with references for further research and documentation if desired, provide a framework for understanding and promoting sound policies regarding firearms in America.

Free Expression on Campus: What College Students Think about First Amendment Issues

March 12, 2018

First Amendment freedoms continue to be tested on U.S. college campuses as higher education institutions strive to achieve goals that can occasionally come into conflict. These include encouraging the open discussion of ideas and exposing students to people of different backgrounds and viewpoints while making all students feel included and respected on campus. In 2016, Gallup, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute conducted a landmark, nationally representative study of college students. The survey found that students believed First Amendment freedoms were secure, and they generally preferred that campuses be open environments that encourage a wide range of expression. However, students supported restrictions on certain types of speech, such as hate speech, and many were sympathetic to students' attempts to deny the press access to campus protests, such as those that occurred over race-related issues in the 2015-16 school year.

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