Innovations in Racial Justice
Friday November 18
How do we organize millions of white people into social justice movements? Divide and conquer strategies by those at the top have used race to divide people and maintain power, and the result is disastrous for all of us – including white people. Racial capitalism and authoritarian movements are threats to us all. Panelist will dive into Showing Up for Racial Justice's (SURJ) model for organizing, an approach needed to fundamentally change the cultural and political landscape in the US, but which goes against much of the current thinking about organizing white people.
SURJ formed to answer the call of Black leaders to “organize our own.” We organize majority white communities, guided by a “shared interest” approach. White people must understand that their personal interest is tied to the demands raised by BIPOC-led movements. Simultaneously, we must center those most impacted by white supremacy with a framework that incorporates both race and class. Panelists will share organizing stories from white rural, Southern, poor and working class, suburban, disabled and middle-class communities. This approach represents a departure from earlier approaches to anti-racist work with white people. It moves beyond guilt as the primary framework. We center the most marginalized people in our organizing, while understanding that middle-class people have an interest in ending white supremacy as well. With the model of shared interest, we can shift narratives about whose interests are served by the maintenance of white supremacy and create opportunities for multiracial movement building.
What is food, and how is it central to timely and urgent conversations around identity, racial justice, community organizing, environmental activism, and decolonization? For so many people, especially BIPOC, food is so much more than what goes in our bellies. It is a lifeline back to other homelands, a conduit for immigrant parents’ love, a medicine that transcends borders, or a map that tells stories of resistance, migration, struggle, survival, and joy. Christopher Tse and Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal will facilitate an interactive space in which we explore and reclaim our relationships with food, community, and identity. Through small group work, circle, and storytelling approaches, this workshop seeks to unpack questions such as: “What’s your favorite cultural practice around food?” “What’s an example of a time you felt embarrassed or ashamed about food?” and “How do you cook your rice?”
In a time of globalization and easy access to other cultures, food has become yet another site of colonialism, power, and white supremacy. Celebrity chefs rave about the utility of turmeric and star anise while gentrification shuts down old kitchen bastions of racialized communities and replaces them with culinary fusion cafes that photograph well for social media. It’s time to reclaim these stories. This workshop is for every kid who’s ever been afraid to open their lunchbox in the cafeteria. We see you, we’ve been there. Let’s talk about shame, and joy, and cut fruit. Let’s talk about spices and identity. Let’s talk about how we cook rice.
Achieving a racially just future in which the majority of people are engaged in building pluralist culture requires more than just changing a few narratives — it requires transforming the toxic narrative oceans in which we swim. But how can we transform our narrative waters so that hundreds of millions of people can change their beliefs and behaviors in order to engage in the hard, delicate work of belonging together? And how can we design for impactful narrative strategy at scale across a broad range of sectors, issues, and stakeholders?
The Pop Culture Collaborative approaches these questions through narrative systems design. To transform the narrative landscape in America around people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and Indigenous peoples—especially those who are women, queer, trans, nonbinary, and/or disabled — we focus on bolstering the infrastructure and impact of the pop culture for social change field. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, the Collaborative team will share about narrative systems design — the creative, powerful, and responsive narrative framework and strategy at the heart of our grantmaking and field organizing. Participants will learn about the six components that work in synchronized relationship: a culture change goal, mental models, narrative archetypes, specific stories, inciting experiences, and desired behavioral norms.
Through storytelling and interactive exercises, the Collaborative will help attendees analyze past examples of cultural change processes, and learn about the building blocks of a narrative system — so that they can utilize narrative systems design to advance racial justice values and issues in their own work.
Building from the grassroots, the Policy Innovation Lab collective is working to disrupt the patterns of traditional policy development, positioning communities as owners and decision-makers over the policies that directly affect their daily lives. From food justice, water infrastructure, tenant rights, and energy democracy, these four community-driven organizations are learning from each other’s organizing and taking an intersectional approach in their policy development by connecting these climate justice issues and addressing them through a racial and gender justice lens.
During this session, you will have the chance to rethink the traditional local policy process and provide feedback on the ways we can ground in frameworks like the Just Transition and a Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal. You will hear how this collective continues to move away from the traditional policy process and redefine how our communities create and drive our collective future. And you will be able to engage in how we redefine what winning means that goes beyond the passage of policy. Come to this session ready to redefine our policy process and to learn from the collective wisdom of the Policy Innovation Lab partners and the pathways they are building to create racially equitable policy.
Audre Lorde wrote that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Currently, we use an antiquated electoral system called winner-take-all or first-past-the-post, which originates from our British colonial history. Changing this system may seem impossible. But, in fact, communities across the country have experimented with many reforms. One promising electoral system, proportional representation, was implemented in New York City in the 1930s. It is credited with the election of the first woman and the first people of color elected to city council - including Ben Davis, a Black member of the Communist Party. Fast forward almost 100 years, activists of color are organizing to advance proportional representation at the local level in Dayton (OH), Portland (OR), and King County (WA). Perhaps your community is next?
The workshop provides a crash course for advocates to learn about electoral systems and racial justice. First, we will open with a gallery walk that highlights the history of our electoral system within the broader struggle for racial justice. Then, we will do a deep dive into how our current system protects voting rights (spoiler alert: it's weak sauce). We will then wrap up with an overview of proportional representation and an interactive exercise called "What's for Dinner" to demonstrate how electoral systems impact representation. Participants will leave with a better understanding on how electoral systems impact the movement for multiracial democracy and real tools to engage their organizations and communities.
Join Rockwood Leaders in a 90-Minute immersion into the Heart of Black Leadership (HBL). HBL is a 5-Day virtual retreat held live via Zoom that was created in response to the needs expressed by Black leaders to have safe, healing, and affirming spaces for Black people to come together in community, especially at a time when much is being asked of their leadership. At Race Forward, we will offer a 90-Minute immersion into the anchor of Legacies & Lineages of Black Leadership and the resilience there-in.
This breakout session will touch on the training’s lessons of open and engage with Expansive Black Identities before diving deeper into the Legacies + Lineages in Leadership. Who are your people? Who’s at your party celebrating your leadership? What is one thing that y/our ancestors knew that we need to know now? What are the stories of your experience with radical welcome spaces?
On Purpose with Rockwood’s 6-practices and in honor of the spirit of Black diasporic expression & experience, we will lead participants through small group exercises, self reflection, and partner reflection, and learn ways to connect to our legacies while building trust and sourcing from Black Joy. Sourcing your power, rooting in lineage and resistance, What would it mean to put JOY into the heart — the beating center — of your Black leadership? What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered? Where are you in your story now? How is your path forward building Beloved Community?
Presenters of this session will guide participants, through workshop-style activities in order to better understand how systemic racism affects their own embodied histories, perceptions, and relationships. Participants will gain understandings of key concepts of power and positionality, which work in tandem with the social construction of racism and race. Participants will gain hands-on experience with arts-based and arts-informed activities that address how to creatively intervene in a world structured by racial inequality. These activities can be useful tools, skills, and ideas for educators and learners (both in formal and informal settings), artists, administrators, leaders/policy makers, etc. Participants will be empowered to analyze systems of power and the structural dimensions of racism to surface root causes and contributing factors through the following activities:
Activity 1: Game of Power - participants will select three objects, either in the room or on their person, and arrange them in a manner demonstrating that one object is the most powerful among the objects.
Activity 2: Portrait Identity/Positionality Chart - participants will create a portrait identity chart for themselves, considering the question: “Who am I?” Participants will consider which labels on the chart represent how they see their own identity and which ones represent how others see them.
Activity 3: Racialized Moments - participants will participate in an interview-style dialogue recalling the first moment they first learned their race.
This workshop will wrap up by allowing presenters and participants to reflect on the activities and any new understandings of key concepts such as race, racism, power, positionally, and more.
In the wake of QAnon, insurgent movements are embracing its model — building passionate extremist communities using the symbols and communication styles of pop-culture fandoms. When these viral techniques are combined with the infinite reach of digital platforms, the result is a dangerous new approach to hacking our democracy, consolidating influence and advancing the surging cultural power of white nationalism. From the parents’ rights movement to the pro-authoritarians, these toxic digital narrative ecosystems are activated by content created by influencers and right-wing media; held and spread by communities that criss-cross platforms and demographics; and ultimately ultimately forge the identities, beliefs and behaviors of millions.
Join Western State Center’s Eric Ward, Pop Culture Collaborative’s Tracy Van Slyke and Institute for the Future’s Jeff Yang as they share groundbreaking research and cultural analysis on how these “digital narrative ecosystems” are being created, evolved and expanded; discuss the implications of their growing role in American racialization and politics; and share insights on how these same fandom-based narrative change strategies could inspire millions of people to resist, neutralize, and supplant the white nationalist movement with the yearning for a just and pluralist society.
BHCMC is the driving force in Monterey County on healing-informed governing for racial equity practices and is building toward operating as a true Black- and Brown-led organization. BHCMC will share its journey in building Black and Brown solidarity that is explicitly uprooting anti-Black racism.
This session will share the journey of individual transformation and the cultural shift that BHCMC has committed to in order to become a true anti-Black racism organization. Panelists will discuss the process of leading Healing-Informed Racial Equity work and the pause needed to internally reflect on the organization’s own internal anti-Black policies, practices, and tendencies. They will also share challenges that were faced in expanding geographically across Monterey County as well as expanding the community the organization is accountable to to include Black populations of Seaside, CA, also experiencing racial inequities. They will emphasize the connection between anti-Black racism work as critical to building intergenerational Black and Brown solidarity, a process that was accelerated after the uprisings of 2020. Panelists will discuss lessons learned from organizing a 14-mile march that connects the predominantly Latinx population of East Salinas to the predominantly Black community of Seaside as well as everyday lessons learned around organizing intergenerational Black and Brown communities. There will be an opportunity for a collective reflection on ways to explicitly address anti-Black racism in our work and build toward intergenerational Black and Brown solidarity.
In the wake of George Floyd and other Black Americans' murders by police in 2020, and subsequent uprisings, growing calls for a national truth commission and other reparative measures swelled in the United States. Yet, these demands and even their implementation are not new. Global examples of truth and repair mechanisms provide vital information for the prospects and limits of these processes.
While there are numerous examples of truth telling initiatives globally, and even locally in the United States, the value of these approaches has sometimes been overestimated or glorified, preventing us from gaining a comprehensive understanding of their true impact in addressing systemic oppression, as well as the challenges and limitations of their adoption.
In this session, the facilitators will share from their work at the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project to investigate, document, and explore global justice, truth telling, and accountability processes around the globe including in Northern Ireland, England, South Africa, Rwanda, and Canada, as well as local U.S. examples in Greensboro, NC, and the state of Maine.
In the second part of the session participants will be divided into small groups, assigned a case study, and invited to practice designing a truth commission, including choosing mechanisms that would be effective for addressing societal harm, and integrating strategies from their own racial justice organizing.
By exploring international examples and tools for action, we will expand our collective understanding of what societal restoration can look like, and propose recommendations for true justice and accountability.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure was designed to infiltrate and undermine social movements, much like a Trojan Horse. The status was created as a vehicle for protecting generational wealth and has led to a shift from community-based mutual aid to hierarchical institutions providing social services. In order to meet the needs of exploited and marginalized communities, nonprofits depend on the support of wealthy people and institutions whose wealth comes from the exploitation and marginalization of those same communities. Moreover, philanthropists, foundations, governments, and businesses too often wield their financial contributions to undermine nonprofits' efforts to disrupt and change the root causes of oppression. While presented as a solution for professionalizing social justice and filling gaps in social services, the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) actually reinforces social control while protecting those with the most power.
During this workshop, we will unpack the systemic challenges facing nonprofits that seek to disrupt and transform the inequitable status quo in our society. We will explore the history and rise of the NPIC and how nonprofits are vulnerable to reproducing the same forms of oppression they strive to resist. We will examine how power, privilege, and oppression manifest within nonprofits both through the micro-lens of our own intersectional experience as well as the macro-lens of capitalism and systemic racism. Drawing on the lived experiences of participants, we will explore Rested Root’s unique framework for how we can TR.A.N.S.F.O.R.M. the nonprofit industrial complex. The session includes grounding practices, games, personal reflection, and breakout groups for brainstorming strategies.
Racial justice leaders have long understood the importance of data in advancing equity, but there are few accessible tools that allow them to see their communities through a geographic lens to build community power and equitable solutions. Geographic Tools to Advancing Racial Justice at the Community Level will guide community leaders through a systematic approach to assess disparate outcomes, identify solutions, and amplify community voices. At this session, we will provide community leaders with guidance about data and tools needed to assess and identify solutions, as well as equip participants with specific guidance on how to leverage these types of analyses to inform policy and co-governance. Opportunities will be provided for strategic dialogue and co-creation of important community-driven analyses that can be implemented by participants across geographies. We will demonstrate available tools and share how to use a geographic approach to address systemic issues. We will also show examples, showcase opportunities, and build an understanding and awareness of how using a place-based analyses can help to achieve racial justice.
Saturday November 19
Have you ever wondered how mainstream society reduced a world of gender diversity to "two genders"? In order to answer this question, we'll explore the story of race and gender in building the mainstream. This workshop focuses on how the gender binary operates through white supremacy, and how it is constructed to support a hierarchy of humans run by mostly white men. We'll also build tools and shared language to discuss gender identity and expression through a Black feminist lens.
Participants will explore sex and gender through the lens of imperialism in U.S. history, analyzing how racial hierarchies have evolved over time through gender norms. Eliminating transphobia from our world requires examining not only bigotry, but also the political and material interests of wealthy and powerful people. By the end of this workshop, participants will have a better understanding of how the gender binary functions systemically to maintain white, wealthy, cisgender men and women at the top of a hierarchy of people.
This session is an opportunity to explore where dominant ideas about multiracial identity have come from throughout American history, and how those ideas have been contested over time. This workshop will guide attendees in excavating the history of multiracial identity construction in the United States and the Americas through a series of historical vignettes that pose the following questions: How did the early colonial state address the existence of multiracial people as it enforced the racial hierarchy? What policies have influenced the possibility and practice of multiracial identity over time? What kinds of discursive interventions have people of color made into how we think about and practice multiracial identity?
Attendees will also look at how multiracial people today are articulating their identities and ancestries in ways that challenge white supremacy, and contribute to an emergent framework for understanding multiracial identity from a racial justice perspective.
People who identify as mixed race, multiracial, and/or as having mixed racial ancestry are encouraged to attend.
Since Reconstruction, the public school has been a central site of struggle for racial justice, from segregation and redlining to curriculum and the school-to-prison pipeline. Any movement strategy that leaves out schools is missing a key element of victory, and ceding ground to the forces of reaction. The anti-Critical Race Theory controversies show that we can't afford to be merely reactive when it comes to public education, but organize communities on an ongoing basis so they're prepared long before the next wave of far right attacks.
How do we break down silos to better integrate the fight for public education into larger movements for racial justice? In this session we’ll hear from practitioners who have organized across disparate issues to bring neighborhoods and cities together, and collectively chart new paths forward for grassroots activism centered in BIPOC communities.
What are the possibilities when communities of color work collectively across-race to deepen shared power, organize and develop future-forward democratizing practices and structures that offer a vision for true democracy and transformation with racial justice as the horizon?
In this session community leaders from local coalitions and networks will present a snapshot of the vision, values, culture and practices that are informing this push for community ownership of the institutions that determine their lives. Multi-sectoral efforts for racial justice necessitate the development of new democratic practices that place r transformation at the front and center, along with prioritizing of transparency, accountability, and deeper relationships – centering bold solutions for the long haul.
Speakers TBD but will include representatives from local coalitions and networks in the Puget Sound and Northern California who are building multiracial power for racial justice and transformation in their communities. The session will be supported by Fernando Mejia Ledesma, Co-executive Director of Puget Sound SAGE and Jesse Villalobos from Race Forward’s Place-Based Initiatives, who works to support local racial justice networks in deepening their collective power to bring bold vision into fruition.
Ending community violence requires us to innovate, invest, and collaborate across sectors. Smaller cities and underserved regions with high rates of violence have far fewer resources. This is the case in Santa Barbara County, CA, where North County is significantly more diverse and in need of all kinds of services. However, even in SB, it is not enough that rates of youth and gun violence have been managed through strong intervention and prevention efforts; with the proliferation of guns especially, this is not a long-term solution. We must safeguard human life as well as we protect property and interests of wealthy white landowners.
"Community Violence Solutions" will be an important space for information sharing on innovative strategies on violence intervention, prevention, and healing/after-care.
Rebekah Spicuglia and Cristel Ramirez will share the work of One Community Action of Santa Maria Valley, which started as a coalition in response to a rise in violence that took the life of Rebekah's son, Oscar. That violence continues today, including but not limited to shootings and school violence, in a community with a significant population of low-income immigrants and migrant workers. Through organizing, advocacy, and culturally competent services for youth and families, OCA is working to build a safe, vibrant community, with culturally competent institutions supporting equity and access for all.
Refugio "Cuco" Rodruiguez will share how the Hope and Heal Fund is investing in a public health, racial equity, and community-based approach to preventing gun violence in California.
Join us to learn about the Black Women Best framework, a roadmap that centers Black women in policy as a precondition to make Black women’s economic liberation—and therefore all economic liberation—possible. We’ll explore the various dimensions of applying BWB to policy development, implementation, and evaluation processes.
Specifically, we’ll explore long-term care, one of the fastest-growing occupational sectors in the US in which Black women make up 23% of the caregiving workforce (in comparison to 7% of the overall U.S. workforce). The structural oppression that determines these gaps also drive the field as one of the lowest-paid and most-dangerous jobs in the nation. In service of building an equitable caregiving infrastructure where Black women caregivers and recipients—and all caregivers and recipients—can thrive, we’ll demonstrate how BWB is being applied to confront the links between systemic racism, sexism, and ableism and diminished worker power in long-term care.
Workshop highlights include:
- Exploring how intersectional race/gender/(dis)ability/worker-centric analysis can be applied to policy development and analysis.
- Unveiling the false dichotomy between caregivers and those receiving care, and the compounding oppression that institutionalizes harm, poverty, and other unjust outcomes.
- Elevating practical tools including the BWB Seal of Approval Scorecard, which evaluates the transformative potential of a policy proposal in reducing disparities and achieving equity.
- Sharing the design and implementation of worker-centric participatory research that recognizes Black women as true experts.
SICH’s Plan centers Leading With Equity as a key pillar that also undergirds identified strategic actions across all other pillars. Through this Plan, USICH will collaborate with federal partners, people with lived expertise, and community partners to embed equity across data collection and evidence generation, cross-sector collaboration, homelessness prevention and emergency response, and the provision of housing and services. We know racial equity is a priority for this administration and with homelessness, we want to examine and challenge existing norms, policies, and practices that have and continue to perpetuate stark and persistent racial disparities to promote intentionality and accountability.
As part of the forthcoming dissemination and implementation strategy of the Plan with a diverse set of partners, USICH hopes for the opportunity to engage with Race Forward conference participants in a breakout session focused on strategic planning, speaking truth to power, and better understanding on-the-ground barriers and successes to disrupting profound racial and other disparities in homelessness and other mainstream systems.
After providing detail on USICH’s internal equity work as well as the creation of the Plan and its contents, USICH and federal partners seek to learn from conference perspectives about how to shift narratives, programs, and policies to recognize and commit to eliminating racial and other disparities through facilitated discussion and small group strategic planning. As part of this process of listening and learning, we commit to uplifting and embedding the lived expertise of conference participants across research, policy, and practice in our numerous strategies outlined in the Plan.
Decriminalization of small quantities of psychoactive substances for personal use, referred to as “decrim,” is one mode of modern reform. Public health scholarship endorses the uptake of decrim practices as a vehicle for reducing the harms associated with drug use, however, a Euro-centric model of drug criminalization alone risks reproducing racial inequality in the U.S., given the inherent anti-Black systems of criminal legal control already in place. Understanding the role of drug criminalization on disrupting the social fabric of communities is essential to the development of new visions of drug policies and understanding how new policies may ameliorate or exacerbate racial oppression.
The first aspect of the session will be a discussion between the presenters on how systems of drug criminalization influence aspects of community well-being and community-driven drug treatment supports. Experiences of community-owned treatment and healing supports will be presented to think through the investment strategies embedded within structural arrangements of drug systems and policies.
In the second half of the session, an advocacy practitioner will discuss what these findings mean to contemporary drug policy solutions and present a case study of cannabis legalization in Maryland demonstrating how linking legalization to community reinvestment was critical to gaining support for recent legislation.
As the country progresses with drug policy developments, we hope the research and policy work in Maryland will help to shape drug decriminalization dialogue and future decriminalization campaigns that undergirds critical race consciousness for reparations of the War on Drugs.
Advancing racial equity is the unfinished business of public administration. In 2021, President Biden ushered in a historic shift by signing an Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The milestone is part of our nation’s long journey to becoming a more equitable society.
Some federal civil servants started the journey of advancing equity prior to the start of the Biden Administration. As trailblazers, they did not wait until the time was right. Instead, they boldly pushed until the time was right while understanding the importance of remaining persistent.
This session features leaders who were ‘spark-plugs’ for equity as federal civil servants. Because equity is a choice before it becomes an act, discussants will clarify what drives their priorities and values. Experts will explain equity requires breaking out of the siloes that stifle individuals and organizations from advancing creative solutions.
The session is an opportunity for learning among peers that transcends level of government. Attendees will learn stewardship of the common good requires encouraging equity as well. Attendees will learn what discussants gained by changing how they managed projects that were under their purview. Attendees will be reminded significant racial equity progress in government can be achieved even in the absence of a federal mandate.