Nile Rodgers Launches New 'Youth to the Front' Fund to Fight Systemic Racism

Nile Rodgers’ We Are Family Foundation announced the creation of its new Youth to the Front Fund, which will benefit activists and organizations fighting to end systemic racism.

Per a press release, the YTTF Fund will specifically support and fund “under 30-year-old BIPOC [Black Indigenous People of Color] youth activists, youth-led organizations, projects, innovations and creative solutions that are at the forefront of fighting systemic racism, inequality, inequity and injustice in the United States and around the world.”

Although no specific dollar amount was given, the YTTF Fund was described as a “growing six-figure fund.” And while the police killing of George Floyd spurred its creation, the YTTF Fund is not meant to be a “one-off response to George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent global outrage, but rather an ongoing sustainable commitment.”

To accompany the announcement, Rodgers shared a video message and statement detailing his life-long experiences with racism and explaining why he was compelled to start the YTTF Fund now. Rodgers said he was first confronted with racism as a 7-year-old, the only black boy in his second-grade classroom, where he was harassed by other students and even teachers. As a 12-year-old, after his family moved to Los Angeles, Rodgers remembered being “threatened at gunpoint by various random policemen and gun-toting whites of all backgrounds.”

When Rodgers was 16, though, he joined the Black Panther Party in New York and remembered: “We stood up for racial equality and provided breakfast to school children and countless other basic needs actions in the community. Those deeds provided me with the principles by which I live to this very day.”

While Rodgers acknowledged that his music career had broken down many barriers for him, he pointedly noted, “[M]y micro-discrimination encounters in everyday life remind me that racism’s ugly byproducts are still here.”

Rodgers said the primary mission of the We Are Family Foundation has always been “anti-biasness,” with a focus on supporting the efforts of young people. “There have been countless murders of people of color for hundreds of years,” he said. “But the killing of George Floyd has resonated in a way I have never witnessed in my lifetime. I was politicized as a young person and now young people are leading the equal rights cause all around the world. I’m proud and I’m hopeful. Maybe at this moment in time, we’ll truly move in a direction of positive change for equality, equity and equal justice.”

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