Welcome to The Maven Collaborative Where We know Black Women Deserve All the Things

The Maven Collaborative
5 min readMar 28, 2023

By: Jhumpa Bhattacharya, co-president & co-founder, The Maven Collaborative

It’s been a little over three months since the entire program staff and I collectively resigned from the Insight Center, taking a clear stance that we will not tolerate the unconscionable treatment and blatant disregard of a strong Black female leader, Anne Price. A lot has happened in these last months that furthered my understanding of the narratives we hold about Black women and deservedness, and reinforced my resolve in centering Black women in the pursuit of economic justice.

The outpouring of support we received after a Chronicle of Philanthropy piece ran outlining the fact that Anne was the first Black female president of Insight Center — turning the organization around financially and programmatically during her tenure — yet was the lowest paid leader in the organization’s more than half-century history, was vitally important in helping us understand that we were not alone, that people had our back. It meant the world to us.

But in all transparency, while liberating, our exit wasn’t all rainbows and roses. In addition to the support we received, there were also people who questioned Anne’s story and her worth, and that was heartbreaking. Shortly after I left, I was contacted to participate in a Board-launched investigation/organizational evaluation to understand root causes and determine whether the organization could continue being an agent of social change. Putting aside that asking former staff who already resigned because we felt the organization was not living up to its values and harming Black women to participate in this investigation is a ludicrous request in and of itself, I realized that at the crux of this endeavor is the notion that there may be a justifiable reason for a Black woman to be paid less than her previous male colleagues for the same exact job. I refuse to dignify such a blatant display of anti-black behavior with my participation, and I think it’s time we all start calling out similar actions. While the racism and sexism that Anne was subjected to is particularly egregious, anyone who has spent a minute in the nonprofit space knows it’s far from rare.

Even within the social justice arena, where we’re all supposedly aligned on our mission to build equity for all, the harmful narratives we hold about what Black women deserve — along with the mistrust of their experiences — runs deep.

It seems nothing is ever enough to dispel that lingering, evergreen desire to question Black women. Insight’s attempted “investigation” is just a microcosm of what we see every day in the institutions and systems that make up our society. In our public welfare policies, there is an underlying belief to constantly doubt Black women. Are you really trying to find work while receiving benefits? Prove it, even though studies show work requirements are ineffective and racist. Can we really trust you with cash payments to buy whatever it is you need for your family in ways we find appropriate? Doesn’t seem likely, so we will enact patronizing, dehumanizing practices and policies that set nearly impossible to live on food stamp guidelines, install family caps limiting how many children can be supported because we fundamentally distrust the motivations of a Black mother, and make you continually prove your worthiness in receiving any kind of governmental aid because we simply do not believe that you being human is enough to ensure you have your basic needs met.

It seems the only thing we think Black women truly deserve is constant questioning, surveillance, scorn and pain.

We see it in the rules of our economy that allow economists to normalize or ignore high Black unemployment, or in the fact that occupations that Black women are overrepresented in — like the care and service industries — are the least paid and the toughest. It is why healthcare providers ignore Black women’s concerns, and why we accept such obscenely high Black maternal mortality rates.

I refuse to accept there is nothing we can do to change this kind of thinking and behavior. I know we can do better by creating an economy and society that isn’t predicated on the destruction and violence of Black women. There are enough of us out there who are hungry for a reboot — who want to vision, dream and build a new way of living in community with another that starts with ensuring Black women are cared for, uplifted and rejoiced.

I invite you to join Anne and me in this journey at The Maven Collaborative — a new organization we are co-leading where we center race, gender and joy in the pursuit of economic justice. We are joined by the entire Insight program team that resigned in December, and are looking forward to creating a world where multi-racial and gender justice and joy is achieved through centering the needs of Black women.

Many people assume that centering Black women means the exclusion of other groups. I get it: white supremacy and the patriarchy condition us to think centering one group means excluding, marginalizing and oppressing others. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Centering Blackness — Black women specifically — allows for a whole different paradigm shift, including a severing of old power dynamics. This is not about creating a new social hierarchy. It’s about building a truly inclusive society and ensuring Black women and their families don’t get left behind, once again.

At Maven, there is an unapologetic focus on Black women because we know centering the needs of Black women enables us to develop bold solutions to structural problems that transform our social and economic systems so that everyone can live a life of joy, dignity and respect. It is a place where we will live our values not just through our programmatic work, but also in our organizational culture. We are creating the conditions to ensure our dream work can come to fruition, and we are doing it through embracing joy, abundance, tapping into our inner knowing and centering care. Care for one another and ourselves.

It’s time we all live our values as organizations, even if that means taking big risks and entering uncharted territory. Sticking to the familiar, or what may seem feasible or popular at this moment, is limiting and not working to get the change we need. We as a movement need more space to dream and be creative. Another world is possible. It’s waiting for us to have the courage and conviction to actualize it. I’m ready. Maven is ready. I hope you are, too.



The Maven Collaborative

Centering race, gender and joy in the pursuit of economic justice