2018 Program: Criminal Justice
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.
A New Social Contract workshop will explore the common framework that underlies many of today's most compelling community driven solutions to our current crisis. The workshop will begin assessing what our current social contract is, why it is unraveling, and the key role race and gender played in creating the fissures that enabled today's crisis. It will then turn to exploring what communities on the frontlines of injustice are creating in response as a way forward.
Specifically, the workshop will help participants assess how community land trusts, universal financing for public goods, public banking, and other high bar solutions for equity are connected, and how to create synergy across efforts. Participants will share and explore thoughts on key questions such as: What makes a solution transformative? When does it contribute to building universal and equitable systems? Where do you find intersectional models to address today's inequities? And which solutions deepen inclusive democracy and how?
Participants will also produce a map from their perspective that lays out the contours of a new social contract that weaves equity throughout our systems, institutions, politics, economy and culture. Finally, participants will strategize on how to connect their local work to the concept and effort to reimagine and renegotiate our country's social contract and move from crisis to opportunity.
“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.
Knowledge is (White) Power (KWP) is designed to trace the white supremacist origins of public education—emphasizing the institutionalization of various racial tropes designed to create and reinforce the social hierarchy we experience today. Due to the cross-institutional nature of white supremacy, KWP is designed to incorporate elements of pop-culture with government policies (i.e. housing), as examples of how no single system (i.e. education) could propagate white supremacy without the expressed reinforcement of other institutions.
Participants will be guided through a series of multimedia presentations, dyads, small group conversations, and writing activities—all of which are designed to connect the systemic structure of white supremacy with the personal narratives of our participants. Our goal is to both inform as well as create space for something experiential. It is our belief that the pairing of a chronological review with more contemporary, heartfelt experiences will have a greater impact on participants and thus increase the likelihood that they will incorporate this co-created experience into their daily lives. By the end of KWP, participants will better understand the role of race in the formation of public education and the larger web of recurring racialized themes which inform many of today’s K-college institutions. Finally, our guests will leave with a collectively generated, real-world list of ways to mitigate the impacts of white supremacy in our school systems from the home to the local, and state levels respectively.
In this interactive workshop, we invite participants to reflect on this key question: How do we create and sustain racial equity systems change work within metro areas? We use the model of a cross-sector political coalition as one strategy to advance racial equity within institutions. First, we explore how to build a case about how structural racism negatively impacts entire metro areas, including populations and spaces that are predominantly white and/or affluent. We share research from Chicago’s Cost of Segregation project that demonstrates the negative impact to all. Participants complete a short exercise about the Cost of Inequity for all. Next, we brainstorm together why metro-area context –such as political history and fiscal realities—matters for how to organize cross-sector political coalitions. Participants engage in a reflective exercise to sketch their metro context, identify institutional leaders, and make connections across sectors. Next, we explore the construct of targeted universalism, watch a three-minute film from the Haas Institute, and explain its value in messaging. Next, participants identify policy areas and related recommendations in order to spell out what an agenda of racial equity could look like in their metro area. Here, we share examples from our work in Chicago. Finally, we conclude with a planning exercise that encourages participants to spell out for themselves future learning and action. In our conclusion, we invite participants to make connections within their local work to a broader global movement to advance racial equity through cross-sector political coalition building within metro areas.
Our country invests heavily in communities of color - but that investment comes too often and too much in the form of criminalization, surveillance, and incarceration. Annually, the United States spends $100 billion on policing alone. For cities large and small, the choice to spend massive amounts of their budgets on cops and jails come with deep structural trade-offs. For every dollar spent on more police officers, police stations, or militarized equipment, that means one less dollar for youth services, public education, local infrastructure, public health, or job programs.
Divest/invest campaigns, which advocate for investments in supportive services and divestment from punitive institutions, challenge the very roots of mass criminalization and inequity.
This session will specifically discuss how such harmful policies are manifesting in cities such as Detroit and Milwaukee, and how we must - and can - start demanding divestment from these harmful institutions and investments into community-owned safety.
The presenters, experienced community organizers and local leaders, will facilitate a workshop exploring how best to demand elected officials and decision-makers acknowledge that the lack of investment in communities of color and the over-investment in their criminalization is emblematic of governmental disregard for Black and brown life. The presenters will lead an interactive workshop on tips and tools for building community power in this fight, including door-to-door canvassing, media engagement, "bird-dogging" of elected officials, electoral strategies, and the import of organizing young people and those most directly impacted.
Several studies show the United States is a world leader in mass incarceration and thousands of black men find themselves trapped in the prison pipeline. This forum highlights the experiences of black men who have navigated the prison pipeline. The panelists will discuss several factors that led them to prison, their experiences during their incarceration, and the challenges they encountered post-incarceration. Additionally, the audience and panelists will participate in a collaborate session to identify solutions to mass incarceration beginning with education and policy reform. By highlighting the experiences of returning citizens as well as solutions to the prison pipeline, our goal is to work with policymakers in an effort to reform our criminal justice system.
As rhetoric and policies continue to sanction White nationalism and make violence against our bodies and communities commonplace, Women of Color faith leaders are deepening their relationships and developing their resolve for standing together to resist the tropes and practices of white supremacy, uphold our connection to all movement people whose bodies, lives, families and futures have been put on the line, and grow beloved community and relationships, that hold the depth, honesty and commitments we know are necessary to secure our liberation together. Join Jewish Women of Color and Women of Color activists, across faith communities, to consider what is needed to decolonize our religious approaches to the work of ending racism and anti-Semitism. Explore activist work to dismantle racism and anti-Semitism intersectionally and consider what roles we can all play in building communities and power, across faith entry points, that address this work, deepen solidarity and strengthen our movement for the long haul.