2018 Program: Civil Rights and Legal Strategies
Communities of color across the United States are under siege by an unforgiving and destructive police state. While there is positive movement to transform laws that lead to over-criminalization, many communities still feel the brunt of a system infected with structural racism that includes unfair laws that criminalize even the most minor actions, contact with biased police that operate under policies that breed a culture of violence, and a correctional system that serves as a disposal system. Unjust law enforcement policies and practices, and a racist culture of police violence have poured into our public schools, specifically schools serving Black and Brown children, and continue to manifest in our neighborhoods and in immigration enforcement through ICE raids, 287G arraignments, gang databases, and the deputizing of local police departments.
As a result, communities and families have been devastated, lacking a sense of safety and justice. Grassroots organizations who can hold systems accountable must be at the forefront for there to be sustainable change. These communities should be engaged in reimagining safety.
This workshop will explore the interconnectedness of policing, immigration enforcement, school militarization that prohibits our communities from living free and safe. Through presentation, sharing and activities, participants will explore design of campaigns to that connect our communities, work and vision of safety. Participants will be provided with tools to wage intersectional efforts to address these issues within their communities.
Be it the freedom riders and the boycotters of the past or the May Day organizers and Black Lives Matter activist of the present, making our feelings, our desires, and our voices heard through civil disobedience is critical. Protesting through marches is one of the most visible and powerful means of civil disobedience, but, being such a visible and powerful tool, also means that it can attract a lot of attention from both sides of the debate. These events, while often quite calm, can quickly turn violent as divergent beliefs collide and as police try to maintain order. Even a casual survey of history, shows that peaceful protests can turn into violent riots as ideologies (and fists) clash, as heavy handed and militarized police forces shut down political action, and as the media performs the post-mortem blame game.
Regardless of your stance on what’s appropriate or inappropriate behavior during a protest, we can all agree that maintaining our physical and legal security is key. In this panel/workshop we’ll explore divergent views about how to maximize the efficacy of a protest as well as how to stay safe from a legal and a physical perspective. This session will feature voices from diverse political perspectives and at its conclusion, each participant should leave with suggestions that they can take back to their communities to improve their safety and security during civil actions.
This workshop analyzes the systematic structure of ableism through a person of color living with a disability lens. Participants are given the opportunity to explore solutions on how to address these systematic structures. Our goal is to create a community of people who are interested in advocating for others who face discrimination as a differently abled person and ethnically/racially different. The session will begin with introductions of people who hold different identities and how they are treated in the greater society. For example, an undocumented disabled Latino girl, a black young adult living with mental illness, an Arab Muslim woman living with disability and a woman who uses a wheelchair.
Participants will come up with a list of ways in which society may see those in these marginalized communities. Following this brainstorming activity, participants will be broken up into smaller groups and be given different real-life scenarios of what a marginalized person may face holding a certain identity, like those listed above and how this individual is viewed/held back in the real world. This blurb, along with a copy of the ADA papers, will be used as a guide to come up with one or more solutions on how to address such a challenge. This workshop will finish off with the sharing of real-life results of these challenges and those involved, and what steps were taken to overcome the obstacles placed in the way. There will be time for Q&A at the end of workshop.
How do I get my local government to incorporate racial equity across all departments? Where should the initiative be housed? There is frequently resistance to new initiatives and sometimes racial equity work is treated like an extraneous “add on.” Shrinking budgets, increasing mandates, and broad service areas add to the challenge of doing racial equity work systemically.
When the County of Monterey’s public works division faced a state review for compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, they turned to the County’s Equal Opportunity Officer for assistance. Utilizing racial equity principles, an inside/outside approach, and existing County structure, the team took advantage of the “open window” to develop a Title VI Plan for all of Monterey County, revise nondiscrimination policies, and rename the Equal Opportunity Office to the Civil Rights Office. The new identity gave us reason to work collaboratively with the community and an opportunity to work with all 26 County departments on some basic racial equity principles. The community gained a plan that they can lean on when they do not think we are working to engage them equitably and that helped developed new relationships with County staff.
In this session, we will work with participants to develop a wish list related to racial equity in their community. Utilizing our experience in Monterey County and broad knowledge of County functions plus the expertise of those gathered, we will identify potential windows of opportunity to incorporate wish list items into existing programs, plans, and compliance structures.
The media system, like the criminal justice, educational, and other systems, wasn’t created to help communities of color. The mainstream media has been a primary author of a racist narrative that supports destructive policies and practices that harm our communities.
This is why it is worthy remembering the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report. The Commission was appointed by President Johnson to study the causes of the racial uprisings in 1967 in cities like Newark and Detroit. But the report also documented the media’s role in contributing to our nation’s racial divisions which persists today.
Meanwhile, it is almost impossible for people of color to achieve racial justice if we are unable to tell our own stories. But people of color own few broadcast outlets and fewer cable networks due to institutional and structural racism. This is why a small group of media makers of color have worked together this past year to tell the story of race and media by reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report. During this session, we will explore in small group discussions what media makers can accomplish by working collectively to organize and tell stories that challenges systemic racism in the media. We will also discuss what media transformation looks like. And what should be the story of race and media 50 years from now?
“You should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried. No population is off the table.” — Thomas Homan, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 2017.
The current administration has made it clear that its main goal is to terrorize immigrants, whether documented or undocumented. The numerous policies and actions taken in the last two years support this goal: whether by arresting 171% more non-criminal undocumented immigrants in 2017 than in 2016, implementing a Muslim Ban where 77% of those flagged for secondary inspection were lawful permanent residents, rescinding TPS for El Salvador and Haiti, starting an effort to comb through old naturalization applications for fraud, and even by questioning the citizenship of people who have lived for decades as native-born US citizens.
All of these actions have had an unprecedented effect: heightened levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD and trauma for the different immigrant communities affected. These are communities that oftentimes struggle to access health services in general, but mental health services in particular. How do we fight the policies enacted by the current administration, while maintaining our mental health? How do we fight the stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illness within our own communities? How do we establish trauma-informed systems of care? This panel will explore the actions that the administration has taken, the effects that are felt in our communities, and share how we can fight these effects.
Within Our Lifetime is a national network of more than 125 organizations focused on Creating a sense of movement, Building the field, Connecting the dots, Sharing and deepening knowledge, and Bringing the heat and power - and of course, ending racism within our lifetime. Over the past 3 years, we have interviewed frontline organizers who have navigated racial disasters in 10 key cities in the US. We paired their findings with high-level movement theory and applied the results to our work in Charlottesville (summer 2017). The resulting best practices were released in a report in March 2018, and have been iterated for the past 9 months by our Community of Practice - this workshop is the result.
We offer specific and concrete tools for local organizers who are preparing their city in advance of or directly responding to a racial disaster. This workshop has resources for national organizers and organizations who are interested in supporting local or regional folks responding to crises of racialized violence. There will also be space for funders and major donors to engage in conversation around best practices that have emerged. While it is not necessary to have read the report or visited the website MovementMicCheck.org, we will move quickly through the basic concepts in order to arrive at the most relevant recent learning. Expect to leave with tools in your pocket, new comrades, and many more questions.
Articles like "Is San Francisco Losing Its Soul?” or “San Francisco’s Alarming Tech Bro Boom: What Is the Price of Change?” and “San Francisco’s Diversity Numbers Look More and More Like a Tech Company’s” have become the norm for characterizing the city. As the refrain goes, the rising cost of living in San Francisco is forcing out the city’s teachers and artists, who are being replaced by engineers and wealthy businesspeople drawn by the tech boom. The “Outmigration of Blacks” has been both a silent and apparent social issue in San Francisco, and the Bay area overall. With San Francisco being one of the most expensive cities to live in on the globe, much of community has wondered how local city government prioritizes this specific issue.
With robust, high impact priorities, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, has engineered efforts on Equitable Access, Cannabis Equity Post-Legalization, the San Francisco Fair Chance ordinance, Tech Equity and LGBT Initiatives that address social issues with an intersectional framework. Director Sheryl Davis and Policy Advisor Aria Sa’id discuss how government institutions can address social inequity, systemic racism, and reduce the harms for communities affected by the “War on Drugs”, mass incarceration, economic inequality, and overall criminalization of poverty.
Many organizations profess a commitment to racial justice, but struggle to enact that commitment in concrete, practical ways. Internal conversations about race can be uncomfortable - even in social justice nonprofits that primarily work with clients of color. How can groups that are not yet “racial justice organizations” gain momentum to transform their internal practices, partnerships, and cultures to better support staff of color and people of color-led movements for justice? In this workshop, attorneys from the Community Development Project, a nonprofit legal services provider in New York City, will describe their struggles to shift CDP from a majority-white social justice nonprofit to a majority-people of color entity with racial justice at the core of its mission. We will discuss the core areas of our recent organizational transformation, share concrete strategies, and work with participants to develop action plans to begin to dismantle racial hierarchy within their own organizations. Moving beyond principle to everyday practice, we will acknowledge the sacrifice and struggle that such transformations require, sharing honestly what worked and what didn’t in a frank conversation about our triumphs and pitfalls.
Participants will be invited to reflect on their organization’s internal practices related to hiring and leadership; external practices, including substance of the work, clients and partners; and the culture that defines each organization. We’ll share practical tools and ideas to begin the process of transformation in each of these areas, arming participants with concrete strategies that are needed to advance a vision for racial justice day to day.
It is our uncomfortable truth that racial identity impacts the experiences and can impact the retention of employees. Workforce equity demands that we identify and address any barriers to equal employment opportunity faced by our employees and communities because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation and other protected classes.
The process of developing a Workforce Equity Strategic Plan, was initiated by Employees of Color (EOC)—an Employee Resource Group, in a partnership with labor and community based organizations organizing to bring attention to institutional racism, and inequities within the organization. The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), working with these groups, then developed a process that focused on lifting up and centering the voices and experiences of those most impacted by unequal employment opportunity. Utilizing this existing structure, ERGs hosted a series of facilitated discussions to uncover common themes and ideas for action around retention and support, professional development and promotion, and organizational culture. These same groups then coded and analyzed data, and drove a process of strategy development that reflected the needs and experiences of employees.
Reflecting a guiding framework of safety, trust and belonging, and designing strategies that reflected principles of equity and tactics of community organizing, Multnomah County, impacted and influenced by the organizing and power of front line staff, developed a Workforce Equity Strategic Plan that will guide the organization in addressing institutional inequities.
Toni Anderson and Olatunji Oboi Reed will present an interactive workshop entitled "The Community Power Matrix: Harnessing Power to Achieve Racial Equity". The workshop will explore the necessary strategies to facilitate a full suite of burn/build and inside/outside strategies, designed to disrupt patriarchal leadership by shifting to collaborative, decentralized power sharing. The workshop will explore the necessary strategies to achieve freedom for people of color, moving from top down policymaking, to bottom up policymaking, to full collaboration. The workshop will also explore the intersection of urban renewal/gentrification and the serial displacement/redlining of low- to moderate-income, communities of color.
Participants will explore necessary strategies to enforce a shift from intrusive, paternalistic governance of community place to a collective, equitable eco-social system where the most vulnerable benefit the most from urban development.
The ‘CPM’ workshop will posit the triad of necessity stemming from community divestment and inequitable development are:
• The proper defining of equitable planning.
• The role of culture, history and expression in facilitating a community engagement process which is centered at the neighborhood level, meets the specific needs of neighborhood residents and reflects an approach, rooted in culturally relevant axiology.
• The role of public health as a rubric for the prioritization of placemaking and economic development in marginalized communities.
Participants will be given the tools to implement strategies that identify and harness power from grassroots, bottom-up movements and top-down initiatives that require either collective benefits agreements or total disruptions that drain and redistribute resources.