Race Identities and Innovations
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.
Transwomen of color will discuss their experience with incarceration and criminalization due to being transwomen of color engaged in sex work. They will share their experience and how they worked to create decrim NYC. There will be engaging story telling and conversation that invites attendees to think through how they can support transwomen of color sex workers and help to shift racist and misogynist legislation in their regions.
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.
Through exercises, discussions, and presentations, participants will strengthen their knowledge of the rationale for leading with racial equity as a strategy to achieve equity for all. We will explore who we are in relation to each other and institutions in order to trouble the practice of leading with our identities as a focal point for our engagements. We will look at ways to center our shared fate in order to build movements for justice. This workshop is suited for everyone, regardless of where you are on your racial equity journey.
One of the main ways white supremacy maintains its system of dominance is through perpetuating dissociation -- from our bodies, emotions, communities, and the natural world. At its worst, dissociation in white people manifests as violence and terror inflicted on BIPOC bodies. White dissociation can also look like denial, defensiveness, appropriation, silence, and/or distancing (especially from other white people). In our white antiracist organizing, disassociation impedes our ability to build authentic relationships, act with accountability, sit with discomfort and conflict, and share or release power. It can manifest as competition, unsustainable work habits and burnout, isolated and unaccountable action, lack of vision and imagination, and the inability to follow leadership of BIPOC communities.
As we seek to build a white antiracist identity and practice that is still emerging as a collective, we have the opportunity to reconnect to that which white supremacy seeks to destroy: our wholeness, interdependence, and humanity. In reclaiming and embodying these parts of ourselves, we enhance our ability to viscerally attune to the impact of racism, discern where we are responsible for its perpetuation, access the courage and vulnerability to repair, and engage in accountable organizing and action.
In this session, we'll explore what embodied antiracist practice looks and feels like. We will imagine a white antiracist identity that divests from practices of domination, extraction, consumption, and scarcity. We will explore how to take action, relate to each other, and organize from a place of embodiment, connection and interdependence. Come prepared to engage in emergent practice together.
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?
Malcolm X said, “Where the really sincere white people have got to do their ‘proving’ of themselves is not among Black victims, but out on the lines of where America’s racism really is - and that’s in their own home communities.” While there has been a long history of white anti-racist organizing, from Anne Braden to the Young Patriots of Chicago, to Showing Up for Racial Justice, the topic of white people organizing other white people to fight against white supremacy is still complicated and often riddled with dilemmas. White People Against White Supremacy was founded in 2020, building on this foundation and the revolutionary work of Black and Brown organizers in Arizona and beyond who are working to build a future free from state violence and systemic racism. Since then, we have organized alongside our partners of accountability, taking a “solidarity in action” approach that promotes action, reflection, and healing our white supremacy culture.
Through video clips, role plays, and round the world group activities, our presentation will draw upon these experiences to investigate the dilemmas we often face in our organizing. With topics like “How do we DO accountability, though?”, we will take on the issues that often immobilize new organizers in our movements. We bring our specific perspective as a collective of white folks organizing in Phoenix, Arizona, a historically red state with the deadliest police department in the country, border militarization and terror inflicted by ICE, and a long history of white supremacist organizing.
“There’s really nothing like the self-righteousness of the partially informed.” - Karen Kilgariff*
Although from two very different vantage points of identity, both presenters react to Karen’s insight with a similar “Oh, damn...that’s the truth!” response. Having experienced, witnessed and owning up to their own periods of partially informed self-righteousness, Jasmine and Melia share their stories of unproductive allyship, damaged relationships and stalled (or backwards) progress all in the name of “good intentions.” Encouraged by the groundswell of white folx getting involved in anti-racism, this workshop is designed to help emerging allies break typical patterns of privilege - saviorism, fragility, performative behavior - and develop more effective ways to show up in solidarity with BIPOC. When learning to ride a bike or drive a car, you start in the empty parking lot, keeping yourself and others safe. Learning effective allyship deserves the same care. When you Know your Lane you operate as a safe, trusted and effective ally. No swerving or speeding to get ahead, rather following the direction and pace of the Movement. Through story-telling, small group discussions and journaling, participants will learn to recognize and avoid common allyship missteps, build resilience to reframe “call-outs” as gifts for personal growth and assess where they currently land on an allyship continuum. Taking ownership of previously harmful behaviors, participants will leave with new insights - knowing better to do better.
*total coincidence that our quote comes from a white woman named Karen. It is what it is.
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.
Saturday November 19
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.
Reducing the police state: what we learned and how to move forward. It sometimes feels like carcerality and the police state have an insurmountable foundation built within our society and local governments. While that foundation exists, it’s not as insurmountable as it feels. After witnessing one of the largest uprisings against the police state, we learned more than ever about how these systems protect each other through state law and the concept of “police rights,” local policy/culture and the entrenchment of “back the blue” mentality, and local prosecutors abuse of power and discretion to protect the current status of policing.
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.
The rise of white nationalism and right-wing ideology in the US are closely connected with this fact: the US is a global superpower that is in decline. It is common to hear things like “Our jobs have gone to China” or “China is one of the world’s biggest polluters” and in that context create a mainstream consensus that China is the enemy. In the US, this has led to increased racist violence against Asians, and in reaction, some members of Asian communities calling for increased policing, which results in more violence inflicted on Asian communities and communities of color.
On the other hand, social justice movements have become more siloed and disconnected from movements abroad. US-based activists have very little understanding of how people on the ground in China and Chinese diasporic communities in the US have also experienced the shifts in the global economy, as well as people’s struggles for increased rights and freedoms in China. We believe that we can be a stronger and better movement when we move beyond generalized tropes and begin to build mutual learning and connections that are rooted in transnational justice.
This interactive workshop seeks to create space for US-based organizers, policymakers, thought leaders, and academics to understand how identity-based movements can and should be transnational, cross-racial, and grounded in people-to-people relationships rather than geo-political posturing and maneuvering for global domination. We invite everyone into this generative conversation with us.