2022 Program Topic:
Systemic Racism/Institutional Racism/Structural Racism
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.
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.
Our economy can be an equitable economy–that is, an economy organized around the principle of equity: fair and just inclusion into a society where all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Achieving an equitable economy requires redirecting the full powers of our federal government to redesign our economic systems to truly work for all–especially the 100 million people living in America who are systematically shut out of our country’s prosperity, the majority of whom are people of color. This interactive breakout session presents an actionable framework for centering the 100 million in our economic policy and practice.
The dominant economic narrative serves to both confound our understanding of the problems we collectively face and conceal the practical means for addressing them. What this moment requires is a more practical economic worldview, grounded in fact and premised on equity–a worldview that rekindles our economic imagination and serves as a guide for action, both public and private. Our aim is to break through the deliberate abstractions and obfuscating jargon of economic discourse by providing concrete, actionable analysis that recasts the purpose of our economy as providing for the needs of all, especially the 100 million.
Our current economic system is unsustainable—for our neighborhoods, our cities, and our planet. What would it look like to live in a world that valued regeneration and cooperation? What would it take to transform the current economy into one rooted in racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice? Share and learn with organizers who are creating community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, financial cooperatives, and public banks to give Black and brown communities shared ownership and control of land, housing, jobs, and finance. Participants will identify systems of extraction in our current economy and examine how those systems operate at neighborhood and citywide levels, and beyond. This provides a foundation for breakout groups where participants envision what a new economy could and should look like in their community, and how to get there.
As the nation's leading public health agency, CDC is committed to health equity – to ensuring every person has access to health care and the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Social and economic obstacles driven by racism, discrimination, and longstanding disenfranchisement, undermine achieving health equity in communities that have been historically marginalized and medically underserved. The impact of these inequities on our communities is severe and far reaching and is creating life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of our nation. In April 2021, CDC declared racism a serious public health threat. To effectively address the population impact of health inequities, we had to begin a process of transforming our own institutional culture and reimagine a more equitable system of public health research and practice. In July 2021, CDC launched its first health equity science and intervention strategy known as CORE. CORE is an acronym for Cultivate comprehensive health equity science, Optimize Interventions, Reinforce robust partnerships, and Enhance workforce engagement. In this session, we will focus on the “E” in CORE and describe some of the innovative strategies in play that are systematically changing CDC policies, practices, and organizational culture toward equity. We will also highlight how CDC is building an anti-racist approach to public health science and practice.
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.
There have been numerous calls to action for philanthropy to center equity, and shift power to the community—yet many of these institutions are slow to act to advance their racial equity work beyond public statements. This session will share how Philanthropy Massachusetts, a nonprofit funder-membership organization developed a multi-prong approach to gain insights from a representative body of funders through a working group, staff, and a state-wide survey into the behavioral and organizational barriers funders might be facing in moving from thinking to action. We will discuss how these insights have used these findings to co-create racial equity strategies with their network membership to cultivate mass action at the state level to change systems and shift power to the communities they serve. Philanthropy Massachusetts will draw on its long history of working on race, diversity, equity, and inclusive over the years; participating in the D5 Coalition, a national coalition of funders and PSOs advancing REDI in the field; creating Diversity fellowships for midcareer professionals who transitioned into philanthropy; and convening the Grantmakers of Color network. The panel will also discuss the benefits of co-creating strategies in partnership with funders at different stages of their racial equity efforts, what communication messages were most helpful, and how peer-led action can lead to increase impact for communities that are historically and currently unfunded or under-funded and excluded. Together, the panel will communicate a new vision for a philanthropic state-level approach.
MediaJustice is a 20-person, all-remote, multi-state organization. In 2022, we set-out to revamp our salary framework and benefits to be aligned with our values as anti-capitalist, anti-ableist and anti-racist, after having a discretionary, non-transparent salary framework. We were excited to create something new - to start from a place of creating something for our people instead of simply “benchmarking against the status quo.” However, we also had to balance recruitment and retention in a capitalist world, the concerns of funders, our budget, and state laws. And as people, we also had to interrogate how white supremacist thinking shows up in ourselves. We created a framework that is transparent, has a 9-page FAQ to clearly share our decision-making, decouples performance from anything monetary, is negotiation-free and includes benefits to meet our people including a culture of accessibility and focus on staff-wellness (such as, unlimited restorative days and a 4-6 month hybrid parental leave).
This breakout session is to get practical about what it took to get here, and connect with others. The session will be a deep dive into MediaJustice’s process including how we decided on our most important values, selected a consultant, decided on our priorities, budgeted for our benefits including long-term leave, engaged our staff, and our own retrospective. There will also be small groups based on roles (EDs, HR, Operations and Finance) to get even deeper into the weeds. And there will be brainstorms to learn from and connect with each other.
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.
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.
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.
This project, titled Green Is Not White, was designed to explore the impact of climate change on Indigenous and racialized communities in Canada through a collaboration between the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces York University Research Grant. The Green Is Not White workshop examines environmental racism in the context of socio-economic inequalities and access to green jobs for racialized and Indigenous communities and asks participants to consider environmental racism in their own communities and Canada (through examining case studies) to consider the position of their communities in present and future contexts through inclusion in the green economy and to consider taking action. The workshop looks at diverse solutions, such as strategic creativity (e.g., popular education) as a way to realize an inclusive just transition, and considers how individuals can become active in this movement for the betterment of their own communities.
By the end of the workshop participants should be able to describe the term "environmental racism" and identify instances and impacts in racialized and Indigenous communities; understand the connections between environmental racism and the workplace, including who does and does not benefit, and the many ways that racialized and Indigenous activists can take leadership roles to combat inequality; and be able to identify tools, resources, and actions to challenge the inequities faced by racialized and Indigenous communities in the Green Jobs Revolution.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to advancing racial equity and addressing the climate change crisis through executive order, equity action plan, Justice40 initiative, and magnitude of recent federal funding represents a major catalytic moment for communities of color. This session will focus on how a transformative justice framework can be applied to dismantle structural racism, strengthen accountability practices, and address the way public infrastructure investment has been historically used to harm communities of color and low-wealth communities. Panelists will highlight emerging practices, programs, and initiatives that support community-driven solutions, foster institutional change, and support more equitable outcomes in public investment.
Breakout Session Long Description (250 words)*
The Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to advancing racial equity and addressing the climate change crisis through executive order, equity action plan, Justice40 initiative, and magnitude of recent federal funding represents a major catalytic moment for communities of color.
The passage of the historic $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal presents a once-in-a-generation investment to embed community-led solutions, equity, and climate priorities in our Nation’s infrastructure. The infrastructure funding combined with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the broader flexibility guidance granted for the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) becomes one of the most significant federal investments to U.S. cities, states, and tribal lands. The magnitude of funds and incentives, if implemented equitably, could transform the role public infrastructure plays in shaping just and thriving communities.
This interactive practical session will focus on how to unlock these federal resources using a transformative justice framework to dismantle structural racism, strengthen accountability practices, and address the way public infrastructure investment has been historically used to harm communities of color and low-wealth communities. Panelists will highlight emerging practices, programs, and initiatives that support community-driven solutions, foster institutional change, and support more equitable outcomes in public investment.
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.
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.
From the global pandemic to racist police violence to wealth inequality and the consequences of climate change, the struggle for an inclusive democracy is in danger. The work of building inclusive democracy requires the efforts of artists and musicians as much as it needs organizers, teachers, and community and local government leaders. Art and culture-makers have always been uniquely able to bridge divides, applying their creative skill to the hopes and fears that animate and unite us, using their spotlight to hold power accountable, and inviting fans and consumers of their work into new spaces that foster inclusion and belonging.
For the past two years, Western States Center has been actively engaging with the question of what happens when we bring together diverse cohorts of artists and musicians to break isolation and discuss some of the most relevant issues of our time: racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, white nationalism, and authoritarian threats to democracy. This Facing Race panel discussion brings together a few of the voices from those cohorts: artists and musicians who have embraced the work of inclusive democracy in their art, fan and industry engagement. Workshop participants will join a conversation with these culture change-makers, including singer/songwriters from our Inclusive Democracy Culture Lab, about the power and relevance of art and music in justice and anti-bigotry movements today, the challenges they face, and the critical roles for artists and musicians in the coming days.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every student deserves an education. Unfortunately, many schools across Arizona have adopted harsh disciplinary policies that push students out of school for common adolescent behavior. These policies often disproportionately impact Black, Brown, Native American, poor, LGBTQ, and disabled students. In these cases, students are unfairly punished and left without the necessary resources to continue their education. As a result, these policies decrease the likelihood that students will go on to higher education while increasing the chances of drop-out or involvement with the criminal justice system later in life.
The Demand to Learn campaign is demanding changes at the local and state levels to dramatically reduce Arizona's suspension and expulsion rates, increase the number of mental health professionals in schools, and ensure enrollment is simple and non-discriminatory. By working with families, students, and community members, we can collectively advocate for reforms that will help children stay in school.
This session will spend time working individually and collective to think about power structures and who has power to create change, and expose various strategies that exists. The participants will be able to hear from each other's commitment to advocate in their local school boards, at the legislation, and other spaces where change can be accomplished.
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.
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.
Audre Lorde describes the “joy in living” as “one of our most potent weapons”— referencing the integral role that joy and imagination play in the movement for peace, justice, and liberation.
As explored in Echoing Green’s short documentary Unwavering: The Power of Black Innovation, for Black and Brown leaders, working to disrupt systems of power is both revolutionary and joyous. For Black and Brown leaders, joy is our antidote — an act of resistance and revolution.
Featuring social innovators driving transformational movements for change, this session will feature an exclusive screening of Unwavering: The Power of Black Innovation, a short documentary by Fearless Studios and Echoing Green, followed by a panel conversation that will explore the importance of Black and Brown leaders finding joy while working to disrupt systems of power. This session will offer participants tangible steps on how to incorporate and cultivate joy in their leadership and movement-building.