2020 Program Topic:
Cultural Organizing and Change
All times Eastern Standard Time.
Tuesday November 10
Hindu fascism did not begin with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This philosophy has been incubating in India and United States for decades. In this breakout, we will outline the history of Hindu fascism in both countries. This workshop will focus on the link between anti-Blackness and Hindu fascism and its role in advancing a white supremacy agenda in America. We’ll discuss not only the dangers of this ideology, but how we can fight its spread.
Participants will have the opportunity to share their knowledge of Hindu supremacy and evaluate its rise in America. We will explore what we can do to ensure that our organizing work is decoupled from Hindu supremacy, and how to pull Americans of Indian descent into the conversation. We'll build shared language and tools through an anti-caste, anti-supremacy lens.
Have you ever wondered how mainstream society reduced the full diversity of humanity 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. We will then consider how it shows up in current LGBTQ organizing models, and what we can do to reduce the harm that toxic gender norms cause us and our communities.
As we face the multiple collective crises of 2020, we need journalism and information produced by and for oppressed communities. Building on the conversations held at Allied Media Conference and Facing Race 2018, this session will gather journalists and media activists to strategize about producing journalism that supports movements, reflects grassroots communities, and fights white supremacy and racism. We’ll talk covering the uprisings, the effects of COVID and economic crises on communities of color, and safeguarding democracy. Most importantly, we’ll build community among movement journalists and media activists in order to share resources and support one another.
The session will be facilitated by Press On, a southern movement journalism collective which has a strong presence in North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. The session will include political education about histories of journalism and resistance in the South. We will draw on the work and wisdom of southern media organizations and movement organizers to collectively build strategies for supporting, sustaining, and expanding the liberatory practice of journalism. Small group breakouts will focus on building community among movement journalists and sharing resources.
Wednesday November 11
All periods of change require a collective leap of imagination. In recent years, the Trump administration and racist Right have enflamed culture wars to advance white supremacist rule and racist violence. But at the same time, artists, athletes, culture-bearers, cultural organizers, and narrative strategists have moved millions to embrace radical racial justice narratives and ideas. Black and Indigenous people and other people of color working in the culture expand our desire for racial justice and sense of possibility. How are people innovating and advancing racial justice narratives? How do we think about the cultural battleground now in this time of uprisings? Race Forward is proud to present this plenary of leading cultural organizers, thinkers, and influencers.
For hundreds of years, the people of the African Diaspora have lit paths towards liberation across the Western Hemisphere, lighting the way for each other with spiritual and cultural power. Black people birthed new traditions rooted in the art and religious practices brought from the continent, informed by new environments, and fashioned against the evils of slavery, colonization and systemic racism. Today, in the legacy of that repression, the resistance continues on all fronts. Black artists and writers lead the cultural charge to innovate and hew new freedom, new futures in our imaginations as well as on the streets.
Authors, song writers, vocalists, priestesses and witches, our three panelists will discuss the words, songs and spirits that have come forth in the art and their freedom work. Each a cultural icon of Black feminist creativity in their own right, their ground-breaking conversation will explore histories, personal and collective, survey some of the contents in their current tool kit and offer future visions. In this moderated plenary, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, Michaela Harrison and adrienne maree brown will delve into the spiritual technologies of music and magic that they create to bring protection, healing and justice to the earth, their communities and themselves. Racial Justice Reads founder, Rosana “RC” Cruz will moderate, to proffer questions and support the panelists as they weave their magic.
What are the profoundly resilient, magical even, practices of your Asian American lineage? This session explores the resilience practices cultivated across Asian America -- from the homeland herbs that heal us, to the money sharing circles which help pay our bills -- and how the wisdom of these practices can inform the next decade of Asian American organizing. With guided exercises, we will generate a collective pot of distinctly Asian American resiliency practices which encompass our specific and nuanced hxstories and transform them into an organizing strategy. Participants will leave having designed a resilience-based strategy or tactic which increases self-governance and transformative justice in our communities.
Why is the United States talked about as if it’s unique despite being similar to so many other nations? How is this the “land of the free” if there are slaveowners on our money? Why is the idea that America was never great offensive to so many people? This interactive workshop builds understanding of what some call American exceptionalism: the idea that the U.S. is the best or most free nation to ever exist. This idea filters out the experiences and stories of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color that contradict that narrative.
In our session, we will explore the racial ideas underpinning the “greatest nation on Earth” motto by tying white innocence and national pride to the real practices of erasing or even celebrating stolen land and lives. Can decolonization, reparations, and national pride coexist? Participants will build some shared language about the United States’ myths that exempt it/us from accountability for its/our human rights violations. We will practice a root-cause analysis and then apply it to countering these myths, and finally share some of the tools and frameworks that are keeping racial justice global.
The workshop will showcase IllumiNative’s unprecedented research projects. Our founding research showed the profound invisibility of Native peoples in contemporary society fuels toxic misconceptions, bias and racism against Native Americans. Our most recent research project, the Indigenous Futures Survey, showed the priorities, concerns, and aspirations for the future of Native peoples today. Together, our research shows the power and critical need of changing culture and narratives to include Native peoples. Through a creative presentation, small group dialogue and large group engagement, the workshop will create space for shared learning and explore how participants can utilize and integrate the research and newfound understandings in their own lives to support and amplify Native voices and issues and build a stronger multi-racial movement for equity, inclusivity and justice.
Engaging with the research is a critical first step for participants, given the entrenched nature of Native invisibility across society. We will host a short Q&A after the presentation. From there, we will move into small groups where participants can apply the research to their own life experience and their own work for systems change. We will distribute a strategy brainstorm worksheet for recording ideas for activating narrative change and strengthening our collective movements for justice and then report back, looking at the overarching key recommendations for moving forward that were generated in the session.
Storytelling has always been a powerful tool to name problems, unite constituencies, and mobilize people towards solutions. While this political moment has brought the destructive power of dominant narratives into sharp relief, it also brings with it immense possibility. This interactive session will provide participants with a practical framework and hands-on tools for harnessing the power of story and imagination for resiliency and liberation.
Is racial equity enough? What comes after liberation? Join us as we play with strategic storytelling tools designed to help grassroots communities imagine the future. We will explore the difference between status quo narratives and transformative racial justice stories.
The dominating narrative highlights figment deficits of our bodily autonomy, thriving community, and collective solidarity. The personal and collective freedom of our bodies and communities, and the availability of resources to further that freedom, is notably tied to patterns of racial injustices. As BIPOC navigate interpersonal and systemic oppressions related to racism, misogynoir, erasure and gentrification hesitancy builds in our bodies and communities to be audacious, vocal, and visible in our dissent and collective edification. We uplift that BIPOC bodies, communities and historically occupied land, has, must, and can interdependently craft the components of our revolution by releasing what seeks to harm us and resourcing that which is our medicine.
The archetype of synergetic somatics is as rhythmic and collective as a Saturday morning episode of "Soul Train"; we use rhythm to group, strategize, unify, and move regardless of the white supremacist gaze and norm. Using simple elements of physical movement, rhythm, and sound participants will co-conspire to identify where and how the greatest wounds are collectively experienced. Participants will be supported in embodying the pathways to explicitly name and curate strategies aligned with the movement building concepts of medicine, resourcing, and resonance for BIPOC liberation. While rotating through Medicine, Resourcing, and Resonance stations participants will co-design and report their remedy to our collective wounds by responding to three pre-determined prompts. At the conclusion of the session all program participants will have embodied replicable and adaptable components of the synergetic somatic design to recreate in their own movement building practices.
In 'Abolitionist Change Strategy Lab' we will share stories about powerful experiments in pushing back on policing, jails, prisons, and the ways criminalization and incarceration are hurting our communities while we build the world we need.
Durham Beyond Policing is a grassroots coalition to divest from policing and prisons and reinvest municipal resources into supporting the health and wellbeing of Black & Brown communities, benefiting all community members. In 2019 we organized Durham residents to keep our Southern city from hiring 72 new police officers and invested those resources instead in eviction diversion and living wages for city workers. We'll share the story of our ongoing abolitionist organizing efforts as a case study to explore together.
This workshop will unpack the concept of abolitionist change and will feature stories from multiple sites across the United States. We'll invite candid conversation among presenters and participants about the contradictions, challenges, and complexities we are navigating. Bring your stories! We'll share what's inspiring us and keeping us united even when the work is tiring or heartbreaking.
In this participatory workshop, we will explore organizational readiness and structures that support collaboration, approaches to democratic decision-making, and building shared leadership in multiracial spaces. Drawing on work within and across the solidarity economy and community groups, and engaging in organizational development with nonprofits and others, this workshop will offer a range of tangible strategies for participants to grow and iterate. Participants will have the chance to try out tools and reflecting on their own experiences.
Discover and co-develop key practices that will unleash workplace innovations in addressing racial inequities. Specifically, we'll share some human resource innovations as a vehicle for reparative justice; i.e., redistributing resources to redress historical, systemic harm.
We'll share tools in development, present innovations by other organizations, and collectively discuss human resources management models and framework that not only transform a single organization but support movement building.
Thursday November 12
Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the #KeepAleFree campaign, a national effort to build pathways of protection from deportation for reproductive justice organizer Alejandra Pablos. Team members Gloria, Yvette, Ale & Castro will dive through the campaign's intersectional organizing work (legal, communications & ground organizing) and how they use cultural digital organizing to creatively disrupt the mainstream portrayals around immigration, criminalization, and reproductive justice. The team engages in this work through a perspective that is dedicated to dismantling prison, detention centers, and governmental agencies.
Workshop attendees will engage in a participatory, art-making workshop that explores the reimagining of the narrative around climate change. Through amplifying conversations that center frontline communities that have been leading movements towards both environmental and racial justice, #ClimateWoke aims to change the story about climate justice by centering low-income, communities of color, and migrants most impacted by climate change. Our fight for climate justice is intersectional and centers the leadership of communities on the frontlines. #ClimateWoke means more than being woke to our current environmental and climate crises. It also means being aware of who holds the solutions and how allies can take the lead from frontline communities, often undocumented & migrant communities and communities of color. Real change can only happen when people acknowledge climate change policies and storytelling need to be enacted with social, racial, and environmental justice at the center.
The Center for Cultural Power The Center for Cultural Power inspires artists and culture makers to imagine a world where power is distributed equitably and we live in harmony with nature. The Center for Cultural Power is creating a thriving ecosystem for artists and culture makers -- who are dismantling systems of oppression and are dedicated to transformational creative practices The Center incubates, organizes, activates, and amplifies artists who want to put efforts towards the climate crisis and be catalysts of change. We also collaborate with movement-building organizations to better engage and activate with artists and artists leadership.
This session guides participants towards strategies on organizational transformation through shared leadership. It addresses the potential of decentralizing leadership in organizations to a horizontal model that allows for multiple leaders to guide the work. This session looks at how to prepare your organization for a leadership transition and the importance of building transition planning as an ongoing organizational practice. We will look at how to build shared values, systems of decision-making, conflict mapping and resolution within a shared leadership model.
Questions we will consider include:
-How do you map and utilize the skillsets of your whole team during a time of transition?
-What is the role of and what are some key cultures shift tools to ensure your team sees themselves as key players in a leadership transition?
-How do you build a plan to develop staff as leaders at all levels of the organization?
Our shared leadership model is the result of an organizational Strategic Planning Process that took place in 2017, after which we entered a partnership with healing justice practitioners for a year and half to help us integrate healing justice strategies at Voices for Racial Justice which included building infrastructures for accountability and conflict resolution. When our Executive Director transitioned out of our organization, we chose to implement a shared leadership structure with collaboration at its core. This shared leadership structure we believe is more sustainable and offers room for innovation, capacity building, and culture shift in ways that allow for expansiveness and growth organizationally.
As Reverend Barber argues, we find ourselves in the Third Reconstruction. Like all previous reconstructions, Black leaders are at the forefront, collectively moving us towards liberation and justice. When we think about what it means to build a truly just, multiracial democracy, what are the core questions that we need to answer? This plenary will draw on the brilliance and wisdom of Black leaders across our movement to answer the fundamental questions of our time, including what it looks like to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous people in practice, why we need to build multi-racial solidarity across communities of color, how we tackle core issues of immigration, land rights, and a reimagining of our justice system, and what's needed for us to lean into intersectionality in more meaningful ways. Panelists will share concrete actions that participants can take to help us build new possibilities for our future. The title from this session draws from Dr. King’s final book “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” which is deeply resonant in this moment. The legacy of our ancestors rests on our shoulders; it is up to us to use this crossroads in our country’s history to make our democracy finally meet the needs of our communities.