2016 Program: Arts, Media, & Culture
Science fiction and fantasy get treated as the antidote to many of popular culture’s ills -- genres in which radical possibilities for justice can materialize as long as they are envisioned. But in practice, their most frequently recurring tropes (and their most financially profitable properties) are little more than fanfiction for the empire: ‘chosen’ protagonists fight dark-skinned embodiments of evil, characters of color consistently get sidelined and villainized, and the struggles of poor, working-class people of color remain invisible. Speculative fiction narratives across all genres rarely engage with structural racism, and are often stuck in a “diversity” narrative that relies on a sprinkling of POC characters in a binary hero vs villain framework. Surely, us nerds deserve better -- and in this workshop, we’ll do better. This hands-on writing workshop is for anyone interested in the powerful, strategic use of speculative fiction for changing social narratives -- whether your preferred medium is novels, movies, television, literature, comics, or video games. We’ll practice strategies to extrapolate from concrete scenes – the building blocks of story – to race-explicit, structural analysis,, and we'll identify strategies for “systemic storytelling.” Participants will come away with at least one workshopped story idea, along with a slew of writing prompts, tips for best practices, new creators to check out, and hopefully a few new potential collaborators.
Ovarian Psycos is a film that intimately chronicles a misfit crew of women of color, who ride at night through streets deemed dangerous in Eastside Los Angeles, and use their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicates her time to recruiting an unapologetic group.
By: Joanna Sokolowski, Kate Trumbull-LaValle
What is the role of art and culture in movement building? How are we developing artist leadership in cultural organizing? How do we create structures which support cultural work in organizations? Greg Jobin-Leeds joins forces with AgitArte to further the discussion on the role of cultural workwithin our organizations, communities and movements, based on their new book and the workshops, When We Fight, We Win!. This panel will consider the impact that arts and social movements have on each other and explore how the arts as cultural forms contribute to social transformation.
How do QTPOC artists and arts organization survive and sustain themselves given racism and homo/transphobia in the arts sector, and the challenging conditions, economic and otherwise, to create art and sustain space in rapidly changing neighborhoods/cities? In this session, participants will have the opportunity to hear QTPOC artists and/or organizations in different life stages in conversation about their histories, strategies for resistance and survival, and efforts to shift racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the arts sector. This inter-generational, cross-regional panel will feature Bronx based Charles Rice-Gonzalez (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance/NALAC), New Orleans based Maria Cristina Rangel/Cherry Galette (National Performance Network/Mangos With Chili), Oakland based Devi K (Peacock Rebellion), and San Antonio based Graciela Sanchez (Esperanza Center for Peace & Justice). Participants will walk away with deeper knowledge about QTPOC art and social practice history; skills and strategies for sustainability, survival, and evolution; and hope.
The Performing Justice Project offers a participatory model for devising critically engaged performance work with young people. In this interactive session, participants will experience how the Performing Justice Project uses theatre, storytelling, creative writing, movement, and technology as tools for enacting and performing gender and racial justice. This session offers a brief introduction to the Performing Justice Project, including previous performance work created with schools, foster care facilities, and juvenile justice centers. Following a process in which participants work together to create and share their own short performance collages, the group will discuss critical questions and challenges that arise when exploring gender and racial justice with youth and communities.
Black Trans people have been the targets of intimate partner, stranger-based, and state violence for a long time. There has been recent heightened exposure of this violence, as highlighted through the expansiveness of Black Lives Matter! Movements, through national trans liberation days, and even through mainstream media. The conversation however, rarely includes the resiliency of Black Trans people. The wealth of resilience strategies and healing tools of Black Trans people will be the focus of this session. Participants will leave with a "medicine bag" of tools. The workshop will include making a collective altar and tribute to our trancestors, a self-love selfies photo booth where people can post their pics on an Instagram account that we create, a short presentation about Atlanta's Pre-Arrest Diversion program, and creating a "medicine bag" of healing tools and resilience strategies that will be collected and emailed out later.
Changing the Race Dance offers a new way of conversing about racism. Using InterPlay’s tested educational body wisdom tools, Soyinka shares the power of movement, stillness, story, and song to create spaces where noticing, plain talk, being heard and affirmed is an essential part of being together in a new dance that takes socialized systemic racism seriously. Changing the Race Dance helps participants uncover insights, strengthen inner authority AND celebrate freedom and health for all by teaching • Respectful body-to-body connection and why racism is hard to stop if not treated on a body level. • Chants that celebrate the choice to move away from racism • Empowering opportunities to address racism and unpack inequity with fewer words and more wisdom. • A way of witnessing that nourishes dignity and respect. • How those who dance on behalf of one another can change historic patterns.
The path toward healing from trauma is never linear, even less so when the trauma is the result of the systemic effects of racism and associated violence.Communities of color have historically faced the challenge of healing from racial trauma while working to transform the conditions that feed and create trauma. Using contemporary examples of violence in communities of color, and grounded in a historical context, this panel will explore both experiences with racial trauma and community solutions for moving through the trauma to a place of healing.
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice explores the experiences of 18 African American Olympians almost 80 years ago, who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The athletes represented a country that considered them second class citizens and competed in a country that rolled out the red carpet in spite of an undercurrent of Aryan superiority and anti-Semitism.
By: Deborah Riley Draper
On July 2015, CultureStrike partnered with End Family Detention and Mariposas Sin Fronteras to release the Visions From The Inside project. We commissioned 15 queer, trans, and/or migrant artists of color from across the country to create images inspired by letters penned by detained immigrants. In July 2016, we commissioned another 14 images and this time we included stories of trans women in detention, folks who have been released and challenged the “good migrant narrative.” We also partnered with 3 new organizations: Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Families For Freedom and Northwest Detention Center Resistance. By visually illustrating these letters we aim to bring awareness and a better sense of: the realities that people are experiencing inside of for-profit detention facilities, what led them to migrate in the first place and, most importantly, highlight the resiliency of the migrant spirit. The project centered migrants as collaborators with agency and critical stories to tell as opposed to art subjects. We want to bring the project to Facing Race 2016 so that attendees get a chance to interact with the final pieces and read the letters. We will be blowing up the images and have attendees participate with the project by watercoloring the images, and by responding and writing back to some of the detained women and children. We would like to display the final images throughout the conference and guide them back to End Family Detention’s website where they can read more letters from migrants inside detention centers.
"A tape recorder, with microphone in hand, on the table or the arm of the chair or on the grass, can transform both the visitor and the host. On one occasion during a play-back, my companion murmured in wonder, “I never realized I felt that way.” I was filled with wonder, too." - Studs Terkel Radio and audio have a long history in representing neglected or unheard voices. The great Studs Terkel used audio to relay the stories of all kinds of Americans including “the non-celebrated” so that “statistics become persons, each one unique.” Today millions of Americans continue to listen to the radio and now on-demand audio (or “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. We will share practical advice on telling effective stories with sound, including a hands-on exercise in creating stories.
Join this panel discussion of artist and advocates as they share the way in which race and racial justice has showed up in comics and graphic novels and how racial justice advocates can and do use serial art and superheroes to build and advance their racial equity work. You'll meet The Opportunity Agenda's Helvetika Bold, who wields a Racism Decoder Ring. Regine Sawyer will share her phenomenal work and the struggles of publishing for women of color. Ivan Velez Jr will share his long history in the populating the comics world with multicultural characters and queer content. Envision with these creative minds a world where imagination, art and a passion for justice can truly save the day.
Actor and former teacher Jesse Williams journeys to St. Petersburg, Florida, notorious for being the unlikely epicenter of the student achievement gap and school-to-prison pipeline. Williams investigates how resegregation has led to a massive educational and criminal justice divide for the students — and witnesses the community’s efforts to confront the school system and close the gap. “The Class Divide” is a segment of the new EPIX original docs-series America Divided, created by Solly Granatstein, Lucian Read and Richard Rowley and executive produced by Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes and Common.
By: Richard Rowley, Rebecca Teitel, Jesse Williams
From the media to the White House, the lion’s share of the response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, has prioritized the plight of young men and boys. But in a climate where black girls are suspended from school six times more than white girls, and African American women are incarcerated three times more often than white peers, the safety of black women and girls is often ignored—or at best, an afterthought.
#SayHerName emerged as a rallying cry to surface the stories of innumerable black women, trans women, and girls who have been assaulted, and or killed as a result of police violence. Shifting the spotlight to state violence targeting women of color, sexual assault by police, and law enforcement abuse of pregnant women, moderator Jamia Wilson and panelists Farah Tanis, Joanne Smith, and Eesha Pandit will center the diverse strategies and activism of movement makers dedicated to garnering justice for black women and girls.
During this two-part interactive and multimedia workshop, participants will hear about the strategies they employed in campaigns such as #ifIdieincustody (Sandra Bland), #sayhername, #SheWillBe, #AssaultAtSpringValleyHighSchool (Shakara), #StandWithHer (Holtzclaw) In the second part of this workshop, participants will engage in a strategy session to discuss what we all can do to strengthen the fight for racial justice by including a gender-violence lens. We’ll collectively explore creative and effective multi-issue strategies around racial justice that include the experiences of girls, women, trans-people, gender non-conforming people and include girls.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to shift the way we understand the world around us, to create empathy, and effect change. Narrative change projects aim primarily to shift the way that a particular community or issue is characterized in the press or popular culture. There might be an immediate policy goal, or it could be part of a broader strategy. It usually involves significant media and communications work, including distribution planning for research reports, and creation of visual storytelling products like short videos. How do you know when a narrative change project is needed as part of your campaign? In this session expert panelists Malkia Cyril, Deeepa Iyer, and Tracy Van Slyke share examples of successful campaigns they have run, and offer insights as to what makes a narrative change project effective, and how to measure impact.
A participatory and hands-on workshop using a variety of arts to explore personal identity, interpersonal dynamics and systemic analysis at the intersection of racial, social and environmental justice. How can the arts be used a tool for liberation and revolution? How can the creative third space be a space for radical imagination and possibility? A combination of visual art, theater and storytelling will be used for a lively and in-depth look at ourselves, each other and our world. This workshop will use a combination of workshop methodologies, including mandala making, theater of the oppressed, singing, story circles and collective visioning. Through this workshop, participants will both gain resources in the form of ideas for facilitation in their own work, as well as an experiential understanding of how the arts acts as an intersectional movement building vehicle. In addition, workshop participants will have an opportunity to build with each other, and brainstorm strategies of how the arts can be catalyzed as a revolutionary weapon for justice in their own home communities.
THE CONVERSATION: A series of short films about race in America
by Michèle Stephenson
When it comes to race relations in America, there has been no shortage of rhetoric, rage and accusations, but too few attempts have been made to elevate the conversation beyond superficial remarks. Comprised of shorts, The Conversation Series avoids a single narrative, with each piece exploring a different facet of societal perceptions that provide honest and surprising insight into the reality of our social systems.
by Adam Mazo & Ben Pender-Cudlip
Courtesy: Upstander Project
First Light documents the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first such task force in US history to investigate issues important to Native Americans. The Commission was dedicated to uncovering and acknowledging the truth about what happened to Wabanaki children and families involved with the state's child welfare system.
LAST DAY OF FREEDOM
by Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman
Last Day of Freedom, is a richly animated personal narrative, and tells the story of Bill Babbitt’s decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime and capital punishment. The film is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day – veterans’ care, mental health access and criminal justice.
As the tech industry nears a 1,000,000 job shortfall by 2020, many within in the industry are scrambling to keep these important positions in America. #YesWeCode sees this situation as an opportunity. As globalization continues, the need for highly-skilled workers in technology is increasing. These jobs are a high-paying career pathway for young workers of color. #YesWeCode believes we must enact change in the tech sector to break down barriers so that young Black and Latinx men and women can earn living wage jobs while thriving in a work environment which has traditionally been dominated by White men. This panel will explore successful ways to reduce barriers to access and increase hire and retention of employees of color in the tech sector.
Moderator: Felix Flores
The exchange of stories can have tremendous implications for movement building – developing new coalitions, insights and questions that provoke new and vital bodies of research, inspire the creation of artistic works, and build community - catalyzing the kind of cultural change needed to end mass incarceration. So how do we use public storytelling as an instrument of radical cultural change? We need a public reckoning through mass storytelling that will challenge the American public to ask: what responsibility does the US have to repair the harm done to families and communities targeted by the “war on drugs” and draconian criminal justice policies? In this participatory workshop, we will use a creative visioning process to crowdsource the ideas, dreams, visions, and critical questions vital to building a world beyond prisons. Participants will get to contribute their stories and bear witness to the experiences of those impacted by incarceration. Finally, together we will envision strategies and practices for healing and restorative justice participants can take back into their work within communities directly impacted by mass incarceration.
This workshop will pull from lesson plans and activities from our new curriculum “What’s the REAL DEAL about Love and Solidarity?” which is a call to action and centers young Black femmes. Engaging, interactive, and rooted in social-emotional learning and youth facilitated discussion, this workshop will provide an opportunity for LGBTQ youth, POC, and those who work and support them, to discuss consent as it impacts them with educators. The workshop will begin with introductions, viewing of the youth-written Hollywood directed short film, “Veracity,” about two young Black queer femmes in high school, a discussion of the topics of consent that are represented in the film, and a variety of small group activities discussing consent. Participants will gain an understanding of what LGBTQ youth (especially BIPOC youth) wish to discuss around consent, resources regarding consent when engaging in various forms of activities, activities and lesson plans for continuing these conversations outside our space together, and understand how media literacy and media justice connect to the topic of consent for LGBTQ youth. Learning objectives include: Participants will be able to discuss various definitions for consent, both practical and legal; identify resources regarding consent specifically for LGBTQ youth esp. BIPOC youth; guide discussions with youth on how to identify the difference between asking for consent and being manipulative; give two examples of activities to implement with youth regarding consent.
Have you ever watched a show that relies on tired tropes about people of color and wondered, “How can I change that?” Have you ever followed a wildly successful and entertaining advocacy or video campaign featuring influential spokespeople and creative storylines and wondered, “How can I do that?” This panel/workshop will help you learn how to do both. You’ll hear from and engage with the creative teams from ColorOfChange.org – whose work is focused on shifting and reshaping harmful media narratives about people of color and advancing policies for a more equitable society – and Weird Enough Productions – whose work is dedicated to creating positive media content of people of color and providing essential education about media literacy (how to identify and combat negative stereotypes) to local communities. We’ll share actionable recommendations from a newly released #PopJustice report, which makes the case that leveraging and influencing pop culture are keystones to social change, particularly in relation to countering stereotypes and fears, and improving attitudes, toward people of color and immigrants. We’ll close with an activity, allowing you to share your experiences and begin the process of developing your own toolbox for #PopJustice. You’ll better understand how to participate in or even launch similar campaigns and projects.
We must change how we envision and practice leadership, especially given changing demographics and the current political environment. This session provides safe space for people of color at Facing Race to explore transformational leadership practices that center healing and wellness. Participants will unpack their experiences as organizers, advocates, artists, funders and cultural workers; using the creative process to reimagine their lives and their leadership. Healing from the ways we’ve internalized racism is imperative in our efforts to fight for racial justice and equality. Too often, this crucial work is not prioritized in racial justice spaces. SiOP and SpiritHouse will encourage people to build their own communities of practice to sustain and strengthen their effort to heal from and fight against racism. Through the arts and storytelling, we examine why we cannot end structural racism, and the ways racism is embedded into the fabric of our culture, without simultaneously eradicating internalized oppression. This highly participatory session will support participants to develop a shared vision for transforming self and society. Participants will leave with tools and practices and personal action plan for moving forward with more impact and sustainability.
This workshop will be an overview of the ways anti-racist activists use alternative or activist media as part of their organizing. No matter the scope in size, this workshop will be a discussion as to why some activists use alternative media in their anti-racist activism. This workshop will introduce the historical and contemporary relevance of activist media in the current political context of new technologies and limited resources. The workshop will begin with a section on “Activist Media and Storytelling” where I will ask participants to share activist media projects they are part of and how it relates to or is incorporated into larger movements of activism. I will also bring historical and contemporary samples from around the world to demonstrate the role of activist media in anti-racist social movements. I will prioritize contemporary radical struggles such as Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, pipeline resistance and other indigenous sovereignty struggles. Through these examples, I will introduce the role of storytelling in political change. The second part of the workshop will be small group discussions of strategic ways various anti-racist movements can begin or strengthen already existing forms of anti-racist activist media. For this discussion I will bring in the questions of decolonization and counter-hegemony in storytelling. Finally, I will create an opportunity for participants to network and meet, possibly generate new ways of collaboration across communities. This includes ideas for new projects or ways to share projects amongst one another.
Arrested at 16 and tried as an adult for kidnapping and robbery, Eddy Zheng served over 20 years in California prisons and jails. Ben Wang’s BREATHIN’: THE EDDY ZHENG STORY paints an intimate portrait of Eddy—the prisoner, the immigrant, the son, the activist—on his journey to freedom, rehabilitation and redemption.
By: Ben Whang
Black women have strong, powerful voices, however our experiences are often shoved to the margins in favor of the ‘movement’ — but where does this leave us? Like our ancestors before us, we will break bread and deliberate on the State of the Black Woman in the United States. We will lift up our movement successes and create a plan to overcome our challenges. We will hold one another’s truths, while speaking our own. Participants will leave the room with an analysis of challenges we must overcome, a strategy for building opportunities for sisterhood across the nation, and reinvigorated to achieve the tasks ahead. The words of Black women change the world each and every day, but often they are silenced by the mainstream.
During this panel, attendees will hear from the Black women writers of Echoing Ida, a project of Forward Together that amplifies the voices of Black women, developing generations of thought leaders and skilled communicators in the social justice movement. The panelists will share their experiences using their personal stories and writing to achieve advocacy and political change. The panel will also discuss their experiences of their collective model, how to get published, partnering with organizations to elevate their work, and the benefits of the Black writer sisterhood. Participants will learn how to identify issues within their own lives and how to frame their stories, as well as have a deeper understanding of the publishing and writing world.
VOX Teen Communications, the place where teens speak and Atlanta listens, represents a diverse cohort of teens, ages 13 - 19, throughout the metro region. Our teen staff come from five counties - Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton & Gwinnett - and 41 schools, including public, private, charter and alternative schools. The teen staff publish content on VOXATL.com as well as producing three print publications for over 290 schools and youth-serving organizations throughout Atlanta. Teens at VOX are also trained to facilitate dialogues and workshops for their peers and the larger community. Join them for a teen-facilitated dialogue about race, how it affects our lives and our perspectives on the past, present and future of race relations in Atlanta. We will explore these issues through a mix of dialogue formats including a fish-bowl, anonymous Q &A and facilitated conversation. We will open by establishing a safe space and creating ground rules for our time together. We're looking forward to a multi-dimensional, intergenerational conversation that will end with a call to action.
As the visibility of queer & trans people of color in mainstream media becomes more common, it is crucial that we look critically at the ideological messages they contain. In this interactive queer & trans youth of color focused workshop, we’ll analyze historic and recent examples of how queer & trans people of color have been represented in mainstream/dominant media and discuss the impact this media has on us as individuals and our communities. When we work together to create our own media, we build our analysis, relationships, and vision through the creative process, and we strengthen the impact of our voices. Using the FYRE Media Justice Camp model, participants will learn media literacy skills that we can use to reframe reproductive, gender, and racial justice issues based on our analysis and lived experiences to create our own community-centered media. We’ll showcase examples of previously created media and lead participants on a journey of what it means to create larger narratives that speak to what queer & trans people of color need for our lives and communities to get better, to feel safer, to love freely and openly, to be liberated.
Calling all TV addicts — this is the workshop for you. Today’s television industry has more room for the stories of racial justice than ever before. This double panel presentation will focus on strategies for making the small screen work for racial justice by engaging writers’ rooms, taking advantage of reality TV opportunities, by hosting watch parties or generating social media commentary on TV content that applies to communities. We will include a special focus on the Netflix documentary “13th,” featuring activists from the documentary and a Skype appearance by its director, Ava DuVernay.
In "Reporting and Writing News Through a Racial Justice Lens," the Colorlines team will discuss the fundamental idea of reporting through a racial justice lens. We will then share practical tips from our own experiences—how to pitch, the edit process, the power dynamic between editor and writer, and a few things that activists should never do when writing journalistically. Confirmed participants: Akiba Solomon, editorial director; Kenrya Rankin, news editor; Sameer Rao, culture reporter and Yessenia Funes, climate justice reporter
As we’ve witnessed with The New Jim Crow, 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 inject transformative ideas into the popular discourse. 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 (e.g. structuring an argument; writing in a clear and compelling way that integrates storytelling); 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 non-fiction that set forth new, 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; and Ai-jen Poo’s The Age of Dignity.
Since before colonization, Black folks have used introversion as a practice to share culture, tell stories, pass messages, and survive. We have a legacy artists and activists (aka alchemists) who remix, re-purpose and transform harmful practices, policies and systems into spaces of power and resilience. From making underground church in the jim crow south to the evolution of Hip-Hop as tool to amplify the voice of Black urban youth, catching the spirit has been a site of physical and emotional release. Through interactive and interdisciplinary group discussions, participants will creatively and collaboratively engage in conversations that will serve as our fuel to devise mantras, call and responses, poetry, rap, rhythm and dance/movement. Using the technology of improvisation and freestyle, participants will experiment with the sacred tradition of the cypher to co-create a collective freedom song that honors our histories, celebrates our resilience and imagines new futures.