Philanthropy is Not Justice!?

Smiley: ‘Philanthropy is not justice’ (via CNN Video)

PBS host Tavis Smiley criticizes President Obama’s newly announced initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.” More from CNN at To license this and other CNN/HLN content, visit or e-mail…

By Andrea Price
One of the benefits of living under the law of the United States is the right to free speech and Tavis Smiley has constantly and consistently used this right to criticize President Barack Obama. However, his criticism is sometimes unwarranted.

During Smiley’s clip above, he states, “Philanthropy is not justice!” His opinion of what philanthropy is, is really off base. My Brother’s Keeper that he is referring to in the clip has gained over $1 billion in support from foundations. This money is great, but philanthropy does not start or end with foundations. If it did, Smiley might have a valid argument. Additionally, when writers write about philanthropy or people discuss philanthropy, it is too often associated with money. The message of what philanthropy is has to be retold.

At the core of philanthropy is the love for mankind, and love is greatly connected to justice. Many of us love our fellow citizens so much that we are willing to sacrifice time, talent and/or treasure to ensure justice for all. This, my friend, is philanthropy. Yes there are unjust systems that greatly affect our society, but we the people, the true philanthropists, have the power to do something about it. Some of the greatest philanthropists of our time gave more time and talent than treasure and moved our world towards greater justice. From the the tiny philanthropists who marched in the Children’s Crusade to leaders such as my Grandma Vera who worked for worker’s justice in Florida to the great Fannie Lou Hamer who gave her time a talent in the name of justice. They might not have considered themselves philanthropists, but their actions embodied philanthropy. Philanthropy is accessible to all because we all can give of ourselves in ways that bring a little more justice to our communities, states, regions, county and world. We all have the power to love and be philanthropists.

Philanthropists throughout the United States who are already working towards more justice for our boys and men of color now know they have support from the White House and other leaders who have now decided to take a stand for justice for boys and men of color. My Brother’s Keeper might not be the perfect initiative to tackle systemic issues men and boys of color face, but this initiative doesn’t operate in isolation and it calls for greater philanthropy. Yes, philanthropy is justice!

What are you thoughts? Do you think philanthropy is or is not justice? Why or why not?