Toby Blume's letter to the IRC after learning about their proposed award to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink:
Dear Ms. Amanda Seller and Ms. Katherine Lee,
I have been a longtime financial supporter of IRC for many years, as has my husband, Frederick Bialy.
We have both independently made many generous donations to IRC over many years. I have been so grateful to the amazing work that IRC has done to bring much-needed support to the most vulnerable populations around the world that suffer terribly due to the serious detrimental effects of war and global economic inequality.
I am also a longtime active member of CODEPINK in the SF Bay Area, and value the work that we have done to bring out the truth about U.S. foreign policy that propels our country into ever-more dependency on perpetual war to keep our economy “growing.” I have donated a huge part of my life, via CODEPINK, to try to make a dent in this dysfunctional system that allows war profiteers to reap huge profits, while the poorest communities in the U.S. and around the world bear real life-threatening consequences. Undeniably, the global refugee crisis is a direct result of the ongoing wars that the U.S. wages.
The corruption within our very government that helps the corporate war profiteers thrive and make billions while millions of people suffer at home and abroad is harder and harder for me to stomach.
I am writing to you because I understand that several members of my organization have reached out to you and have asked you to reconsider your plans to give BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink, the John C. Whitehead Humanitarian Award. I am shocked to find out that not only will you not reconsider your plans to honor Mr. Fink, but that, even more disturbing, you would not even meet with CODEPINK members in person to discuss this controversial and very relevant issue. You claim you have done “deep research” and that you have a “rigorous due diligence process in place to review and evaluate partnerships." If that is the case, why don’t you meet with CODEPINK to explain yourselves?
I understand the desperate need that your organization has for receiving continuous large donations to keep maintaining the level of assistance you want to give to the most needy of the world. However, there are some basic principals that should always be respected. To honor Larry Fink with a “humanitarian award” is inexcusable at the least, and, more pointedly, downright despicable. I can not in good conscience continue to donate to an organization that is unwilling to see the hypocrisy in all of this. Until IRC rescinds on their plans, and agrees to not give Larry Fink this award, my husband and I can no longer make donations to your organization. I do hope that one day your organization does recognize the need to have a clean pallet, in order to paint the more beautiful world we all want to see, unscarred by war and famine, a world where war profiteers are never honored with humanitarian awards. Until that day comes, my husband and I will have to find other humanitarian organizations to support. I plan also to discuss with friends and neighbors about IRC's inability to do some serious self-reflection on this matter. I urge you to look much deeper into this issue.
If you have any alternative humanitarian organizations that serve the global refugee population that you can recommend, please let us know.
Toby Blome and Fred Bialy (my husband)