2022 Program Topic:
Friday November 18
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.
Love within the US context is often defined in overly individualistic, anemic, and depoliticized ways. It is discussed almost exclusively in the context of romance and its familial dimensions. Why and for what purpose? What of love and its role in social transformation? Grounded in Black liberation theology and Black feminist thought, this session will interrogate the Westernized construction of love. It will analyze the ways in which the everyday notion of love operates as a tool of oppression and perpetuates white supremacist ideology to shape our social realities, desirability, and diminishes our possibilities for social transformation. Instead, this session will offer us all an opportunity to interrogate what love is, how we have been socialized by it, and how it shapes our capacity to lead change and hold each other with loving accountability within the moment. Ultimately, this session is about reconceptualizing love in ways that helps us resist erasure and dehumanization, and defining it in ways that helps us heal. We will explore a Critical Theory of Love framework to interrogate our own social justice practices to ensure that we are not perpetuating oppression, but instead helping ourselves and others discover their power and heal.
The arts are not simply a mirror of society. Rather, they are a driving force behind many social transformations. The arts communicate ideology and mobilize people all along the political spectrum. They foster solidarity around shared purposes, values, and identities and provide elements of aesthetic pleasure that can inspire creative responses to fear, oppression, and exploitation. The arts are also tactical interventions in their own right, providing a method for critique and resistance.
How can the arts be married with digital technologies to tell new stories of anti-racism? In this session, the co-presenters ask attendees to experience two new narratives constructed using 360° video cameras. This relatively new technology enables creators to capture an experience and invite audiences into them virtually, almost as bystanders. The two narratives at the heart of this session concern firsthand accounts of racial microaggressions. They demonstrate how new technologies can be a creative, expressive tool for learning about and working through racial microaggressions.
The session offers the opportunity to view the videos with VR headsets. As the videos were the products of a new course, Rehearsals in Anti-racism, the course designer and student creatives share the impetus behind the projects. They discuss the key concepts guiding their creative practice, and invite attendees to participate in a critical dialogue about the promises and perils of racial storytelling, reflection, and learning with new technologies. Special attention is given to how VR can help with healing after a racial event, but also risks retraumatizing visitors to virtual spaces.
Indigenous people have been under attack since colonization became a reality on our land. We have foreign institutions labeling Indigenous folks with Severe Mental Illness and with an array of social dysfunctions. What they don't consider is the level of cultural attachment to Indigenous ways and the lack of wanting to align with the colonized mainstream society. We are that bridge that helps our relatives navigate the institutions and find resources that can assist with services to get people on their feet and on a path that aligns with their higher purpose.
There are behavioral health programs starting up all around us and they are not understanding the historical trauma of Indigenous folks. They are not understanding our upbringing and the reasons behind the substance abuse. This often leads to misinterpretations of the client and creating a proper treatments plan that will lead to a successful recovery.
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?
While descendants of these ancestors learned of the excavation and reached out to the city to halt the project, the city won't respond, and tribal governments are conflicted when abiding by federal policy. The United Stated government had enacted laws and regulations which favor and protect land ownership, economic development, and the perpetuation of colonization. This means when Indigenous Peoples have something to rightfully complain about, the U.S. government pulls out their own set of rules, which do not align with Indigenous knowledge and moral systems and identifies federal and state regulations as a superior power.
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 this interactive workshop participants will be guided through a series of creative explorations using the five senses to envision and begin to embody government that is built for justice for all. We know how white supremacy cultural and systemic racism feels, sounds, tastes, smells, and looks. Using various creative modalities participants will co-create and embody their guiding star for racial equity and justice in government. The workshop will be facilitated in the train-the-trainer model to be used by government workers or racial equity facilitators working with government agencies. All training materials will be provided to participants to use with credit to the facilitator.
- Introduction to somatics / embodiment tools in racial equity work.
- A visual representation of what a justice-centered government could be, to use as inspiration in normalizing, organizing, and operationalizing racial equity goals.
- Facilitator toolkit to lead this exercise in their own agencies / organizations.
Participants be ready to:
- Practice collective imagination
- Stretch your creative skills (we all have the capacity for creativity, no “art” skills needed)
- Collaborate with others to co-create a collective vision for a justice-centered government
Saturday November 19
"Add Just: Embodied Liberatory Practices" will meld Soyinka Rahim’s BIBOLove signature elements of collective breath, affirmation, and movement meditation with Leah Okamoto Mann’s play-full kinesthetic practices. Buoyed by Soyinka’s drumming, flute, and original compositions, participants will be invited to tend a felt sense of justice in their body - through balanced, respected presence. Gathering the “congregation” of our inner parts, Leah will offer liberatory practices to cultivate a healthy ecosystem, micro to macro / self-regulation for co-regulation. These somatic practices will be sourced in self-observation, improvisation, gesture, and whole body movement, with an intention to increase the frequency of peace. We will explore being in flow with our “body weather” in order to bring more empathy, reciprocity, and generosity into the world, in return for the privilege of each breath. This workshop is inspired by somatic practices of Resmaa Menakem and Nkem Ndefo, as well as writings of Indigenous botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and ecologist, Suzanne Simard. All are welcome. No experience necessary.
Soyinka and Leah have collaborated on numerous art and social justice actions over their 15 year friendship, including: Hello/Goodbye Viaduct 2019 (dxʷdəwʔabš / Seattle) and The Human Murmuration at Duwamish/ dxʷdəwʔabš Waterway Park 2017 (dxʷdəwʔabš / Seattle). Soyinka has presented with the Sacred Dance Guild, the Parliament of World Religions, Abby of the Arts, as well as Facing Race. Leah's current projects include: DreamathonATL with Morehouse College & the Andrew Young Center for Leadership and The Indicator Species Project, a BIPOC Centered Art, Science, Eco Festival (Seattle).
"Racism, or discrimination based on race or ethnicity, is a key contributing factor in the onset of disease. It is also responsible for increasing disparities in physical and mental health among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)." (Lewsley 2020). When you layer on taking on the charge to initiate change, being a leader in movements, and holding space for healing from race-based trauma, the stress become compounded. Wellness and wellness practices are essential components to counterbalance, heal, and recuperate from the impact of race equity work. Often times, spaces for rest are not accessible, not created, are underfunded, or are not elevated as a crucial component of race equity work. Wellness Through Movement is a session that focuses on understanding the dynamics of self-care and offering space for recuperation for attendees. The objective of the session is for participants to engage in dance therapy techniques, movement, and mindfulness practices for rejuvenation. Participants will be guided through reflections on holistic self-care practices and leave with tools that they can integrate for more balanced and effective living. Participants will learn about components of self-care, the impact of stress on the body, the impact of race-based stress on the body, and methods to create a holistic approach to caring for self. This training is grounded in Audre Lorde's assertion of self-care as a necessary means of self-preservation. "You are a precious resource...you have a right to health and peace of mind." (Romm)
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.
In October 2021, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center for Health Justice published Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts. Designed for physicians and other healthcare professionals, the guide aims to promote an understanding of equity-focused, person-first language and why it matters, while at the same time opening discussion about dominant narratives in medicine (particularly narratives around race, gender, meritocracy, and individualism).
In this interactive session, we explore the need for this guide and through an interactive writing exercise, develop ways of confronting and overcoming resistance to narrative change. The guide has generated a great deal of discussion in medicine, with some praising it as a vitally needed component of health equity work, and others rejecting it as an act of language policing.
Our workshop is designed around a simple but powerful strategy to support participants in building narrative power. In facilitated small groups, participants will develop a short piece of text – something that could be developed into a letter to their physician or local community hospital (calling for or supporting their efforts regarding language and narrative), or could take the form of a start of an op ed or newspaper story. These pieces would take an element from the guide (e.g., critique of the notion of “vulnerability”) and apply / extend that work to a local context. These pieces of writing, in turn, could then be featured in updated AMA / AAMC Center for Health Justice materials.