The follow is an excerpt from an April 7, 2022 Op-Ed written for Candid.
The community leaders who make up the Black Diaper Bank Coalition (BDBC) come from different places around the country. Some run small, volunteer-based organizations; others run major nonprofits. But they share important things, like “being invisible and hypervisible at the same time,” says Tamara Killian, who facilitates the group for the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), where she is chief of development. She explains that Black women leaders often feel unheard; at the same time, they feel expected to be spokeswomen for an entire race.
NDBN supports a national network of independent basic needs banks that supply communities with diapers, period products, and other essentials not covered by most public assistance programs. Data shows that 25% of the leaders of NDBN member organizations identify as BIPOC. “We have diverse representation in the network,” said CEO Joanne Samuel Goldblum. “But we need to challenge ourselves to ensure that we’re equitably serving all the communities that make up NDBN. That takes ongoing learning, which Candid is helping us with, and ongoing action.”
The BDBC meets monthly to share experiences as well as practical information. While it is a safe space to say anything at all, Killian draws out major themes about the resources Black women leading diaper banks need to succeed. (There are basic needs banks run by Black men, but none of them are active in the caucus.) She has used these observations to change the way NDBN does business.
“Tamara stepped up to be a resource for the BDBC, which members had already started on their own,” says Goldblum. “She recognized the strong link between development and diversity and equity. Her work has led to more NDBN grant writing specifically to support Black-led organizations as well as a change in the intentional allocation of resources.”