2022 Program Topic:
Civil Rights and Legal Strategies
Friday November 18
How Cops Get Off is a three-part animated video series developed by the Advancement Project in collaboration with our board member, actor/activist Jesse Williams. Narrated by Jesse, each four-minute video in the series breaks down the systems, culture, and laws that keep cops in power and unaccountable: the dominant narrative in tv shows, movies, and news, the protectors within our criminal legal system like prosecutors and police associations, and the laws that shields cops from accountability like qualified immunity. The session will screen the short series and discuss these systems and narratives. And, we will talk about shifts we need including what real justice looks like. We will share resources for communities to have discussions about policing and abolition as well as highlight campaigns that are in progress.
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.
Providing a space for possibility. We hope to bi-directionally or in multi-directions, share knowledge, experiences while building community and for us to collectively organize. Combining together with our community to co-create knowledge and tell stories that lead to truth telling that is not present in public schools and providing the tools to get people thinking about the education system and the role it plays in the United States and what exactly can be done.
Offering care, concern, regard, and an opportunity for trust, truth, and community, Freedom school will share its curriculum from its one-day intensive on the political project of freedom schools.
Black Researchers Collective is focused on building self-sustaining, thriving Black communities by leveraging research strategies and practices in service of racial equity. Born on the south side of Chicago, the mission of the Black Researchers Collective is to equip communities with research tools to be more civically engaged and policy informed. Open to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, this session is intended to interactively train conference participants with research tools that they can use for civic activation and policy change. It is intended for folks who desire to be more deeply invested in the long-term improvement of their communities but may be unsure where or how to start. Exploring organizing and movement-building techniques, participants will learn how to identify and take a policy-relevant issue from ideation to a plan of action, using research tools as a capacity-building strategy for parents, organizers, grassroots leaders, and advocates.
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.
By using the upcoming film The Color of Care Picture Motion will describe how films can be used to create successful impact campaigns.
The Color of Care is a new documentary that traces the origins of racial health disparities to practices that began during slavery in the U.S. and continue today. Using moving testimony from those who lost loved ones to COVID-19 and frontline medical workers in overwhelmed hospitals, it interweaves expert interviews and powerful data to expose the devastating toll of embedded racism in our healthcare system.
Saturday November 19
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.
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.
Incorporating the concept of Sankofa, timelines help us to understand how our struggle for education justice has developed over time, connect our organizing to other movements, and assess the future of our struggle. This workshop will present the National Campaign for Police Free Schools’ (convened by the Alliance for Educational Justice and the Advancement Project National Office) timeline and assessments on school policing over the past 80+ years, understanding that abolition is a multi-generational project.
School policing is inextricably linked to this country’s long history of oppressing and criminalizing Black and Brown people and represents a belief that people of color need to be controlled and intimidated.
The timeline demonstrates that the school-to-prison pipeline was a delayed response by the state to Black and Brown student organizing, and is an extension of the laws, policies, and practices of street policing in Black and Brown communities. As we began to form a movement to end the school-to-prison pipeline, as we began to win (ending zero-tolerance policies, acquiring suspension and arrest data, securing pilot restorative justice programs and funds) the system adjusted, increasing police presence in schools.
Workshop participants will understand this history, reflect on their own personal timelines as history makers, and reflect on future trends in school policing as the system continues to adjust – including the rapid expansion of school surveillance as part of the school policing infrastructure.
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.
Chispa Arizona’s Clean & Green Campaign will work with regional leaders, community-based organizations, and community residents to secure resources that prioritize the investments our community and environment need most related to EV public transit & infrastructure, urban green spaces, and complete streets.
What problems are the campaign addressing?
The Phoenix metro area is now the fastest growing in the country. The Phoenix Metro Area air quality is now the fifth most polluted in the country. The National Weather Service recorded 53 days in 2020 with temperatures above 110℉, more than ever before. Over the past five years, heat has been linked to more than 1,500 deaths in Arizona.
What are the solutions?
By investing in EV public transit and infrastructure, we can work to improve our air quality by having less vehicle emissions on our roads. By investing in urban green spaces, greenways, cool corridors, and more complete streets, we will not only mitigate the urban heat island effect, but also provide more transit equity and options for our most-impacted communities.
The goals of the Clean & Green Campaign are to improve our region's air quality through 100% free & electric public transportation by 2035 and reduce the urban heat island effect by increasing 20% of tree shade canopies and investing in complete streets in South & West Phoenix by 2030.
In 2015 after the death of Jose de Jesus in Eloy Detention Center, over 200 inmates organized a hunger strike. Simultaneously a rally was being held outside by families of detainees. This breakout session will go over the process, strategy, and consequences of hunger strike while in detention / prison.