I hope this note finds you closing out this decade spending some time with those you care about and getting some space to rest and reflect. The year 2019 was an intense and challenging year, but not without its highlights.
This is the year we became the Othering & Belonging Institute. Our new identity (which evolved from our former name the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society) is a reflection of the core work we have been engaged in since our inception in 2012: to investigate, name, and deter othering and to expand belonging of all people and even our living planet.
Both of these efforts we see as the most pressing of the twenty-first century.
Our focus on belonging is built on a fundamental belief in the human dignity of all people and care for the earth. Belonging is not about advocating for people to be included into existing systems, it’s about working together to co-create new systems and societies. Belonging insists on the fact that there is no other and there is no them—with that belief, there instead becomes the work to build the new us.
Our new tagline, Research for a Fair and Inclusive Society, serves as an homage to our previous name as well as solidifies our commitment to our core work of doing transformative research.
This work—whether focused on acute needs such as exorbitant inequality, the rise of authoritarianism, or advancing new narratives while anchoring ourselves in historical truth—is underpinned by our commitment to bending the arc of justice towards more compassionate, more inclusive, and more caring societies.
This work is being carried out by our remarkable group of scholars, researchers, and innovative staff who have not only been doing the work and helping to give it shape, but who also work to reflect these values in their own lives and in our place of work. It has been a honor to work with such a caring and deliberate team.
If you have been informed, inspired, or influenced by our work, I’m writing to ask if you would consider making a donation to support us?
We are fortunate to be part of a large, vibrant university such as Berkeley, yet many people do not realize we are an independent research unit that relies entirely on donations and grants to do our work.
And while we very rarely reach out to ask for financial support, the speed, urgency, and scale at which changes are happening today requires all of us, including organizations, to do work in ways that move us beyond business as usual.
If you are able to give a donation, please know your support would be deeply, gratefully received and will allow us to continue doing our work to advance belonging through our innovative research, our frameworks such as targeted universalism and bridging, to a focus on strategic narrative and arts and culture, to our public engagement in the US and beyond.
This work has always been about building a bigger inclusive we. While our past shapes us and therefore needs to be better understood, it does not determine who we will be. Our dreams and practices will determine who we will become. Therefore we must have better dreams and new practices, structures, and cultures that make those dreams real.
Wishing you a peaceful transition to the new year and may 2020 be purposeful, impactful, and kind.
With warmest regards,
john a. powell
Director, Othering & Belonging Institute
Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley