2018 Program: Arts, Media, and Culture
DNA will launch this this year’s Race Flicks program with a multi-media session featuring short films by their fellowship cohort of Black and Brown Detroit filmmakers.
After the police kill four unarmed Latino men in four months, how will a community heal itself? The Circle is the story of a rural community in East Salinas that made history by using ancient wisdom & culture to break a cycle of implicit bias by the police. Follows a former gang member and a police chief who confront each other for answers.
When Trumpian Republican candidate Roy Moore lost the Alabama special senate election, the whole country rushed to #ThankBlackWomen: 98% of Black women voters rejected Moore, and we were credited for, once again, saving everyone else from themselves.
But we need more than your thanks — we need policies that work for our communities. Black women are dealt some of the worst blows under conservative leadership. The left must see Black women as more than a reliable voting bloc, but as the vanguards of a more progressive future. By prioritizing the needs of Black women constituents — following the lead of Black women organizers, thought leaders, and candidates — we can build a country where all of us thrive. What media narratives must shift to make this happen? What political issues need reframing, and how?
Echoing Ida, a Forward Together home for social change communicators, amplifies Black women's visions for justice in everything from abortion access to paid leave to criminalization. In this session, we’ll start a conversation with editor and reproductive justice expert Cynthia Greenlee (Rewire), political strategist Jessica Byrd (Three Point Strategies), paid leave and economic justice movement leader Erica Clemmons (9to5 Georgia), media maker and organizer Amber Phillips (Black Joy Mixtape), and our attendees. Together, we’ll review the wins and losses of the last election, discuss the ways Black women were engaged and portrayed, and offer narrative frames that will take us into our progressive future — one where Black women’s needs are centered and championed.
The progressive movement stands divided. Some insist we mobilize the white working class, others the new American electorate—and both camps seem to regard these choices as mutually exclusive. This division is unnecessary and debilitating. The right builds popular support for politicians beholden to billionaires by using dog whistles to stoke anxiety around race—demonizing black lives, undocumented immigrants and Muslims. To counter this, progressives can and must speak simultaneously and forcefully to the connections between class and race. A robust conversation about race is critical to converting the aspiration of a “New American Majority” into an energized and cohesive force. The question is how to engage around race and class in ways that build solidarity, reduce division and scapegoating, and create a viable foundation for both electoral and policy victories. Therefore, Demos embarked on a narrative project In order to shift the tide of racially and economically divisive politics that strategically uses racism to divide the working class and poor so that a few can gain. We wanted to uncover a narrative that would help people envision a multiracial country in which everyone has economic opportunity. Our Integrated Race & Class Narrative Project started with the premise that we can rebut the right’s faux populism and white nationalism with a potent new story. Join us to learn, discuss and practice strategies on how to unify constituencies across race and class in your electoral campaigns, grassroots organizing, media outreach, and legislative advocacy to mobilize a multiracial coalition and increase progressive governing power.
Racism and white supremacy culture thrives off two legs. It encourages us to be ahistorical - to forget the past, or relegate it to unimportance, save nostalgia. It additionally seeks to truncate our imagination, undermining our ability to vision a different world and align our actions to build the worlds that we vision.
Art activates our historical memory, inspiring us to more than what we currently see and experience. This makes art a justice front. Art is constantly at risk of attack and co-optation. The work of artists of color is consistently devalued, particularly for queer artists and artists working in culturally specific forms. This session features five practitioners ensuring that art is more than window dressing to the movement, and building intentional ways to subvert white supremacist capitalist models of art making. This panel will address:
The history of establishing art institutions as a reflection of the colonial project that sought to control imagination, particularly in regions critical to advancing the colonial project.
Neo-colonial implications of current art institutions and how they are funded via continued extraction and exploitation
Disrupting the notion of value in art, particularly when it comes to culturally specific art forms, and the creation of the folk arts genre as a means to silo culturally specific forms
Arts and culture as a realm of possibility in a moment where our movements urgently need possibility
Models for integrating arts as a justice practice
The Women in Comics Collective International is an organization that focuses on highlighting the merit and craft work of women working in the comic book industry. They host workshops, art shows, and panel discussions across the country; as well as their own comic book convention in NYC called 'WinC Con', (pronounced Wink). Through their work to empower themselves they have empowered the greater community by teaching others how to use the medium of comics as both literacy and advocacy tools. They are an example of people who were very passionate about their work and equally as passionate about using this medium to help empower their community through educational and career accessibility. This workshop will not only discuss how comics can be used as advocacy tools, but how any career can be used as a basis for community organization and galvanization.
Books can play a major role in changing the national discussion about urgent social issues. A well-written book that makes a well-researched argument or uses a unique narrative thread to illustrate the need for reform can be an essential tool to popularize ideas that can change the world. At The New Press, we’ve found that movement leaders can be best positioned to share a unique vision for change.
Workshop leaders will illustrate how a book can help leverage change. Participants will gain practical knowledge about how to move through the stages of book publishing, including: developing a book concept; preparing a cogent, well-informed proposal; strategies for researching; drafting a manuscript; publicizing the book; and collaborating with organizations to amplify the book’s impact. We will share relevant resources, key examples, and case studies.
The New Press is uniquely positioned as a non-profit publisher in the public interest to seek out authors committed to social change, and to develop works of nonfiction that set forth paradigm-shifting ideas. Our catalog includes works from Studs Terkel and Noam Chomsky, and more recent contributions to conversations in criminal and economic justice, and education reform, including Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow; Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children; Ai-jen Poo’s The Age of Dignity; Susan Burton’s Becoming Ms. Burton; Arjun Sethi's American Hate; and Deepa Iyer’s We Too Sing America. It also includes a series of post-2016 “fearless books," which focuses on the ideas, solutions, and perspectives of those targeted for oppression by the Trump administration.
Fifty years after the Kerner Commission report (and four decades after the founding of NABJ and NAHJ), “pipeline” efforts to bring more journalists of color into mainstream media are beginning to bear fruit. Even as we celebrate the increasing diversity in newsrooms, however, we recognize that these efforts have yet to tackle the structural inequities at journalism’s core. As Ade Emanuel found at the Chicago Reader, hiring journalists of color is not enough when bias is built into the fabric of a news operation.
Over the past several years, a group of journalists, justice advocates and radical communicators have been meeting to interrogate the choice points that lead to structural bias within journalism. We’ve found that a key difference between mass media newsrooms and outlets created by and for communities of color has to do with how journalism is framed. In equitable newsrooms, the practice of journalism is rooted in values, and centered within a culturally-specific community. We call this practice "movement journalism."
The work of defining movement journalism is just beginning. Our workshop will build on a Race Forward training in Philadelphia in 2016, an unconference in DC in 2017, and a movement journalism track that our group hosted at the AMC in June 2018. We will start by sharing what we learned at AMC, then engage workshop participants in brainstorming how journalists can best center communities. The work we do at Facing Race will feed into the birth of a new network of movement journalists launching in 2019.
In today’s popular culture, Afrofuturism, Afrosurrealism, and Black Horror are more prominent than ever — from Octavia E. Butler’s novels to Black Panther to Get Out — helping to steer national conversations about race and trauma, including code-switching, microaggressions and black subjugation. Join activist Bree Newsome and author/educator Tananarive Due as they discuss the healing power of horror and science fiction as tools for addressing erasure and creating visionary road maps to black liberation, as well as the role of history in creating black futurity in the arts.
Artistic expression has played a major role in nearly every social movement from the freedom songs of the civil rights movement to the use of graphic art by ACT UP. Art has the power to transform culture, to imagine new possibilities, to reflect our experiences, and to evoke powerful emotions that move people to action. In the reproductive justice movement, the opposition’s grotesque images have dominated the cultural narrative. This workshop will feature the artists working to flip this script through centering the voices, art, and work of women of color. Participants will have the opportunity to explore and create art-- that uplifts the voices of diverse communities, exposing raw, authentic, honest, positive, and even imaginative possibilities of who we are as a movement and where we need to be.
Presenters will describe the various ways activist and artists have integrated plays, songs, design, stand up comedy, photographs and more to build power within communities and transform harmful cultural narratives across movements. They will engage the audience in conversation about the power of art to strengthen all of our movements. Further, they will provide an opportunity for participants to try out their acting chops and get in to character to explore abortion narratives and reproductive justice themes using the play “Out of Silence”, as well as generate their own movement song.
For trans people of color to not only survive, but thrive, we need to reimagine our world. Our communities need visionary solutions, and art will help lead the way. For four years, Forward Together has supported trans and non-binary artists of color coming together to create visions of a world beyond fear and violence through the Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR) art project. Rooted in love and power, artists activists create a positive reflections of community, lift up trans leadership and center the power and beauty of thriving trans futures. This is how we fight back—by celebrating trans power and resilience.
Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR) is an extension and re-imagining of Transgender Day of Remembrance, the annual event memorializing people killed by anti-trans violence. The TDOR Art Project brings together trans visual artists and poets, and trans justice organizations. Rooted in the transformative power of art created by those most impacted by intersecting systems of oppression, the TDOR art project offers visionary solutions for a better world.
In this session, we’ll explore how artists and organizers can produce transformative work through relationship building, cross-movement collaboration, and a deeply held shared purpose. Through stories from the TDOR art project, participants will learn how to center the radical imaginations of culture workers, and build powerful relationships that celebrate trans futures in the movement. Participants will leave with collaborative principles designed to shift culture and artistically fuel our collective liberation.
Artists of color have laid the foundation for creative industries and social movements, yet are greatly undercompensated and underrecognized. In the Parsons Scholars Program, youth from New York City public high schools explore paths to a fulfilling, meaningful and lucrative career in creative fields while centering identities of people of color, people from low income backgrounds, first generation college students, and immigrants of varying statuses. This work acts as a hub for issues of college and career access, racial equity and social justice at Parsons School of Design, and as an intergenerational community of support for people with interests and experiences related to expanding access to art, design and tech fields. Participants will engage in dialogue to share lessons learned from related experiences in art access work, and will collectively strategize ways to increase access to creative fields for people of color.
In the context of our current political climate, which reveals and heightens the daily oppressions that challenge our ability to survive as people from historically marginalized communities, we remind ourselves of the urgency of our work: young people of color have the right to thrive, and artists and critical, creative thinkers are at the center of all significant social movements. In this daily battle for survival, it is our duty to fight for young people’s right to thrive and to center their creativity. These are the radical acts we commit to supporting.
The award-winning show follows three best friends born and raised in North Oakland, CA who fight, dream, and plot hilarious schemes to remain rooted as their neighborhood becomes a hostile environment. Facing both urban displacement and environmental calamity, they combat evil landlords, crazy geoengineering plots, and ultimately each other.
Water Warriors is a story of a community’s resistance against the oil and natural gas industry. When an energy company began searching for natural gas in New Brunswick, Canada, indigenous and white families united to drive out the company in a campaign to protect their water and way of life.
People of color with compelling visions for racial and social justice for underserved and vulnerable communities often find themselves creating and leading campaigns and organizations that mirror white supremacy culture. In these spaces, workers often experience unimaginable levels of stress and illness related to discrimination and institutional culture. This dynamic negatively impacts how workers relate to themselves, their comrades, and to the people and communities they serve. Unhealthy workplace culture + unhealthy workplace relationships = diminished effectiveness, sustainability, power and results.
Given the increasing socioeconomic and political challenges facing people of color-led campaigns and organizations, we need better solutions now to shift the unhealthy and harmful ways in which we do our work. During this session, experience a participatory, mini-design process that bridges the gap between good design, technology, art and social justice efforts to innovate solutions to this problem: how to support workers in POC-led institutions to de-escalate chaos and stress, build stronger relationships with one another and foster collective resiliency and power to address conflicts and stressful situations.
A multi-media session featuring short films by the Detroit Narrative Agency's fellowship cohort of Black and Brown Detroit filmmakers.
What is suffocating our collective imagination around racism and reproductive injustice in America today? FYI Performance Company believes that cultural problems demand cultural solutions. In this hands-on session, FYI will lead an exploration of the relationship between reproductive and racial justice through story and game-based strategies that help keep us in difficult conversations for longer. Participants will learn FYI’s “4P’s of Participation” pedagogical framework — Pleasure, Perspective, Practice, and Shared Power — and ask, what tonic might artists provide? In the words of adrienne maree brown, “What are the ideas that will liberate all of us?” Participants will also explore the narratives within FORECAST, FYI's original play exploring racial and reproductive justice, which centers one young black woman's experience of deciding whether to parent in a broken world. Woven throughout the session will be ample opportunities for participants to share their own expertise, challenges and strategies from their specific work and contexts. (Previous theatre experience is not necessary!) At the end of this session, participants will be able to utilize FYI’s tools and their newly seeded skills to help build participatory, performance-based environments for exploration of difficult subject matter. Come dream a thriving world into existence, with the aid of FYI's unique participatory theatre tools, in and for community.
The commoditization of storytelling regularly overshadows its healing and mobilizing potential through its capitalist or commercial exploitation (e.g., trading trauma for points in poetry slams, equating stories to advertising revenue). However, testimony possesses a healing and mobilizing utility. Our immediate access to information in the age of social media presents a unique opportunity to convert what is often a solitary and isolated battle into a catalyst for mobilization. Interrelational testimony allows storytellers to reconnect with themselves in novel and generative ways, break social barriers, and rally the masses to move forward collectively toward liberation. Present day griots cut through superficial social limits and build bridges to unclog the blurred paths of communication between communities. When people gather around this revolutionary act of storytelling, supportive communities develop. Storytelling becomes a tool to improve the quality of human lives in unpredictable ways by expanding and diversifying the spectrum of experience, challenging limiting beliefs, and inserting marginalized experiences into the canon of global history.
In this session, participants learn by doing and explore the practice of storytelling as a critical method for survival and prosperity. By documenting personal stories and focusing on the facts, we can develop compassionate language, shift our perspective, and find solutions to societal problems. We learn how to create and revisit a transcendent compendium of our lives to unearth the paralyzing narratives which no longer serve our health and success. We can excavate ourselves from the boxes society has drawn to pigeonhole us and chart new ones.
The internet has been a home for queer people for a long time. With the rise of social-oriented spaces online, from IRC chat rooms and bulletin boards in the 90s and early 00s to blogs to Facebook and podcasts, queer people of color, especially those with limited access to offline queer spaces, can find and build community virtually. I like to say the internet saved my life - and it continues to enrich our lives, helping us share ideas, make connections, and fight for justice every day.
The internet is also fraught. From the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality, to online harassment, to the risks posed to organizers through infiltration and catfishing, there are a lot of threats out there. They make us very vulnerable.
However, our communities are, as always, fighting back. We have more agency online than we know, so what do we want the internet of the future to look and feel like?
This session is for both organizers who use the internet as well as casual internet enthusiasts who want to think about how our current online media environment creates opportunities and challenges, and shapes the way we build community for queer & trans people of color.
Dispatches from Cleveland is a documentary in five parts that closely examines the Midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio, one of the most racially divided cities in America, in the wake of the police murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The film follows ordinary people – long shaken by police misconduct, social discrimination, and poverty – whose love for their home pushes them to work together to bring about real change.
Featuring post-screening Q&A with filmmaker Cat Gund, Judith Browne Dianis with the Advancement Project, and Jonathan Stith with the Alliance for Educational Justice. Moderated by Ohio Organizing Collaborative's DaMareo Cooper.
“Why is that lady brown?”
“How do you kill Mr. Phil and nothing happens?”
This session is for educators, parents, and anyone seeking resources and strategies to engage young kids in race and equity work.
Kids notice a lot -- including about race. They sense that it matters, and they have questions that many parents -- especially White parents – aren’t prepared to answer.
Research overwhelmingly backs up what people of color already know: Color-blind parenting only perpetuates racism. Already by age 5, White children are strongly biased in favor of whiteness (Black and Latinx children show no preference towards their own race).
In 2015, two Black mothers looking to tackle this problem in their Boston community began building on their own parenting practices -- especially their use of children’s books to disrupt dominant narratives with their kids. They launched Wee The People (WTP), a social justice project for kids ages 4-12, with three goals: to give kids context for the differences they already notice; engage families in equity work by drawing on kids’ innate sense of fairness; and guide parents in confronting uncomfortable topics: racism, deportation, gentrification, misogyny, islamophobia, homophobia.
Equity leaders recognize the importance of racial literacy from an early age if we are to begin to dismantle racist systems and structures. With an interactive, kid-focused curriculum and over 40 partnerships with local institutions, educators, activists, artists, and children’s book authors, Wee The People offers a powerful and replicable model to engage in this work at the community level.
Beginning with the 2016 election cycle, there has been a sharply increased onslaught on racial and social justice movements and the communities at their forefront. For many of our communities an endless spate of hate speech, propaganda, executive orders, white nationalism, ‘Muslim bans,’ gun violence, global warming, nuclear war, and the new merging of technology and state power makes it seem like we’ve entered dystopia -- even as it’s framed as a utopia (for some). This is especially challenging for our movements because it can result in a diminishing of the hope we need to survive and to leapfrog the current moment to create the world we imagine. Popular culture and the arts are tools for creating hope and can help us design ourselves out of dystopia. In this workshop we’ll discuss the use of utopian and dystopian narratives in worldbuilding and culture creation, use classic dystopic scenarios from pop culture and the arts to imagine our way out and apply the tactics we create to our current movement moment. We’ll invite participants to create alternative race-explicit story lines to popular dystopic narratives like The Hunger Games; Blade Runner; Terminator; Maze Runner; Divergent; Matrix; Justice League; Independence Day. We’ll examine the racialized narratives inherent in these stories, create alternative story lines; then apply the elements of the new stories to develop solutions for some of our most intractable racial justice organizing challenges.
The social justice field has been abuzz with talk about cultural strategy and cultural shift. With escalating attacks on communities of color across issue areas of immigration, labor rights, mass incarceration and more, the need for deep cultural change for racial justice is becoming urgent. But what exactly do we mean by “cultural strategy for racial justice?” What does cultural strategy look like in the fields of community organizing, media and entertainment and policymaking? And how do we ethically partner with artists and leverage creative ecosystems to advance equity and justice?
Come join our workshop featuring some of the best thinkers and doers in cultural change, where we’ll explore strategies for fueling artist-powered change through organizing, pop culture and narrative shift. This session will be facilitated by Nayantara Sen, Manager of Cultural Strategies at RaceForward,and will feature short talks by Bridgit Antoinnette Evans from the Pop Culture Collaborative, Betsy Richards from the Opportunity Agenda, and Rufaro Gwarada from Power California.
Presenters will share examples from the field and dig into questions like: How should a cultural strategy talk about communications, organizing, narrative, and art? How do we build organized creative ecosystems that advance equity and justice?
Today millions of Americans listen to podcasts. Mobile phones make audio even more attractive for our busy lives. Since audio is far cheaper to record and edit than video or film, new producers are capitalizing on today’s “audio renaissance.” Their engaging shows and stories are providing some of the most important conversations around race are happening today. Audiences are hungry for reflections of their own experience in a changing America. At Facing Race, we will discuss what makes audio uniquely suited for telling our stories, challenging injustice, and truly reflecting the experiences of people of color in the United States. We will learn from a range of producers and creators who are pioneering new and exciting ways to use audio. Detroit-based podcaster adrienne maree brown will tell us about starting her new show, “How to Survive the End of the World.” We will share practical advice on telling effective stories with sound, including a hands-on exercise in creating stories.
We will explore ways to reclaim traditional practices, resist cultural appropriation, and shift narratives. Together we will engage and learn from each other and discuss strategies to infuse cultural education within our current system. We will look at the power of narrative as it intersects with culture and the many ways these are co-opted to benefit corporate/ neoliberal interests. We will also look at the similarities in impact on Detroit, Puerto Rico, and Hawai'i. And finally practice together rewriting history from a decolonized POV.
Racist and misogynist media narratives about our communities, challenges, and needs shape public policy, systemic discrimination, victim-blaming, and violence. And in the Trump era, corporate media have become bolder in normalizing white supremacy. Why is media literacy crucial to — and how can it bolster — our movements? Do media economics and consolidation impact our work? How can we generate positive, authentic media coverage? And, how can we create our own media for racial and gender justice?
In this hands-on workshop, facilitators will:
*introduce core media literacy frameworks
*link racist, misogynist media messages to corporate media’s structural and commercial biases
*highlight compelling media (video, radio, print, social media)made by artists, organizers, and educators
*share best practices for strategic communications outreach, framing/messaging, and narrative shift
Through group dialogue and interactive exercises, participants will learn how to:
*become active, critical media consumers
*challenge racist, misogynist framing and scapegoating
*link oppressive representations to media consolidation
*envision authentic, accurate media narratives about race/gender; then, plan to generate such narratives within self-created media, and by effectively framing and pitching racial and gender justice issues to journalists
Participants will leave with the enthusiasm, language, and tools they need to shift bigoted narratives, create anti-racist media, and generate effective media coverage. Tangible takeaways will include:
*an outline for crafting messages and pitching press to generate positive media coverage of their racial/gender justice advocacy work
*a preliminary plan to create one or more pieces of anti-racist media (video, film, print or online journalism, radio/podcast, #hashtag campaign, infographic, other)
The non-profit sector faces a specific set of challenges in advancing racial equity in the workplace. Those challenges are rooted in a field that, historically, was founded upon the premise that philanthropy and “good will” of White people could help cure all societal ills. That founding fostered an environment where racist ideologies were normalized and allowed systemic inequities to become standardized. The arts sector, widely thought of as liberal, faces even more complex challenges as progressive thinking is often paired with regressive practices. Enter women of color into the non-profit workforce. As of late, women of color have been heralded for their ability to reactivate consciousness and change the field. And while they are often championed for their inventiveness, experience and multi-layered perspectives, they are also often driven into professional corners where their unique points of view can become occupational deficits. Cultivating a racially inclusive field with women of color in leadership positions is more than opening doors, it’s about fostering an environment of support where equitable practices don’t come in the form of diversity initiatives but concrete changes in systems. Until that day comes, women of color continually manage to find ways to support one another to foster broader leadership and ensure a field filled with diverse voices. Hear how women of color encourage wider access for more people and communities of color in the arts, and work to create equitable systems for all to prosper inside and outside of the field.
Filmed for a decade, Quest is an intimate portrait of the Raineys. Christopher (Quest) and his wife raise a family, while welcoming the community to their home music studio—a creative sanctuary from the strife that grips their Philadelphia neighborhood. Epic in scope, Quest is an uplifting counter-narrative to typical depictions of Black life, and a testament to love, healing and hope.
Featuring post-screening Q&A the film’s Producer, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon.