A bigoted backlash targeting democratic institutions threatens both efforts to dismantle structural racism and the viability of American democracy itself. From school boards and universities to hospitals and state capitols, threats and political violence targeting educators, civic and health workers continue with impunity, especially directed at people of color in those roles. These dangerous bigoted movements chill democratic processes and work to undermine core institutional missions such as effective and responsive governance or the safe education of all students. Meanwhile, institutional leadership often misunderstands anti-democracy tactics or fails to grapple with the severity of the threat, leaving institutions vulnerable to escalating targeting.
Recognizing bigoted and anti-democracy strategies to undermine democratic institutions is the first step, but we cannot stop there. In this session participants will learn about how institutions can take action, and how communities can organize to help them do so, through discussion of local examples and tools for action. The session will include a discussion of perspectives from both inside and outside of key civic institutions that are dealing with pressure from white nationalist and other anti-democracy groups. Then, facilitators will make space for participants to share their own stories and experiences and engage in discussion of concrete action those within and outside of institutions can take to strengthen the resilience of democratic institutions against anti-democracy attacks and support them to reject overt bigotry, even as we challenge them to become more equitable and inclusive.