Stepping down into the hallway there is a runway of excitement. There are spring flowers enrobed in butcher paper casually strewn on park benches. The large cardboard signs read ‘L’amour est dans l’air’ and ‘La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel’ while men in tuxes and women in a range of Seattle formal outfits glide and mingle. Photographers sprinkle the aisles shooting clusters of attendees. I notice the whiteness.
We make our way through the Almost Live portion of the auction with starting bids ranging from $50-$2000. I continue to walk. We mingle in a large ballroom on the other end of the hallway where we find a rose bedazzled photography station and a statue of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by park benches. There is a chamber quintet made mainly of API teens playing show tunes. There are several waiters of African descent. As the evening progresses I learn that I have won a signed basketball from a rising star immigrant basketball player. I am elated.
We find our beverage and our ten-top round table tucked in the corner with a good view of the auctioneer’s computer station, the stage and the video monitors on either end of the ballroom. The video screen will later play a heart rendering montage of the services provided by this laudable organization. There is one person of color represented. I scan the room seeing forty-five to fifty tables of ten. I don’t see a person with a disability. I don’t speak with anyone who identifies as an LGBTQ person. A woman of African descent is seated at our table. I’m not sure I see another in the field of benefactors.
Wave upon wave of French-inspired dishes are presented to us at the table while we observe the live auction and the Toulouse-Lautrec themed cabaret dancers at intermission. There is familiarity in the room, the well-worn comfort, and ease of people accustomed to enjoying this setting, this status.
The event raises $1.1M.
Where are the people of color? Where is the conversation about minority families access to services? Where are the scholarship programs recognizing equity and inclusion? Where are the voices of the teachers?
If you are in the nonprofit how can you not be addressing the underlying systemic issues that have brought our country here-to this place -at this time?
If you have a platform, at any time, in any way, how can you not invite dialogue and press these inequities into the room?
The hush is ear-piercing.