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Open Society Foundations Announce 2018 Soros Equality Fellows

NEW YORK—Artists, advocates, journalists, health care professionals, filmmakers, and organizers. The 2018 class of Soros Equality Fellows come from diverse backgrounds, and work across a wide variety of fields. But they share in common a commitment to racial justice, ideas for moving the country forward on issues that deeply divide us in this fractured age, and the desire to lead.

The 12 fellows, the second cohort named since the fellowship program’s launch in 2017, come from all over the country, as well as Brazil, and represent a range of ethnic and racial communities. Their projects bring a vast array of tools to the challenge of advancing racial justice: from an effort to build transcontinental coalitions against anti-Black bias to trainings for Muslim communities coping with surveillance and profiling to holding financial institutions accountable for upholding the rights of indigenous peoples to connecting diverse African immigrants’ experiences through the power of song, among others.

The program is intended to help incubate innovators and risk-takers striving to create and develop new ways of addressing the challenges of racial disparity and discrimination in the United States. Beyond nurturing their specific projects, the program seeks to promote leadership development training, networking, and other professional support aimed at building a pipeline connecting the energy and ideas of youth with the wisdom and influence of experience.

Their work has never seemed so urgent. “We are living in a time of enormous racial and ethnic tension, fueled by policies that actively promote xenophobia and fear of the ‘other,’” says Leslie Gross-Davis, director of the Equality team within U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, who launched the initiative. “I can’t think of a better antidote to this climate than the incoming class of Soros Equality Fellows. They are the racial justice superheroes of tomorrow, bringing a diverse toolkit to bear in exposing the root causes of bias in our society and pointing us toward a brighter future. I am enormously proud of this, our second class of fellows, and incredibly excited to see their work unfold.”

The 2018 Soros Equality Fellows will each receive stipends of $100,000 over the course of 18 months. 

2018 Soros Equality Fellows

Douglas Belchior will develop networks of Afro-Brazilian and African-American organizations and individuals to mobilize against racism in the Americas.

Alexandra Bell will produce a fictitious newspaper set in the future that explores issues such as police violence, housing crises, wealth inequality, and mass incarceration using a solutions journalism framework.

Khaled Beydoun will build on his academic research to develop trainings to help educate and empower over-policed and under-protected Muslim communities across the country on issues such as surveillance and counter-radicalization.

Janvieve Comrie will build AfroLatina Journey to Racial Justice, a national network of AfroLatina organizers, and educate immigrant rights organizations about the realities faced by women who share a Black Latina-immigrant identity in the United States today.

Michelle Cook will develop Divest, Invest and Protect, a project encouraging financial institutions to invest in companies that safeguard indigenous people’s rights. 

Stephanie Dinkins will develop Not the Only One (NTOO), a multigenerational memoir of one Black American family told from the perspective of an artificial intelligence with an evolving intellect.

Michelle García will write Anima Sola: The Unmaking of the Frontier, a narrative nonfiction book about the United States’ entrenched frontier culture and how it affects current narratives of immigrants and Latinx.

“Somi” (Somi Kakoma) will produce Petite Afrique, a project which will explore the complex intersectional identities of African immigrants in the United States through music and conversation.

Michelle Morse will develop the Campaign Against Racism of the Social Medicine Consortium, a collective of individuals, universities, and key stakeholders fighting for health equity through education, training, service, and advocacy.

Scot Nakagawa will produce the Anti-Authoritarian Playbook, drawing upon the work of anti-right wing researchers, scholars, and activists to create a set of training modules and educational curricula.

Michael Premo will produce a documentary film exploring race and culture in the United States.

Raquel Willis will create Black Trans Circles, a project to develop the leadership of Black trans women in the southern and midwestern regions of the United States—creating healing spaces to work through oppression-based trauma, promoting community organizing efforts to address anti-trans violence, and launching a national storytelling campaign.

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