2020 Program Topic:
Movement-Building for Racial Justice and Social Justice
All times Eastern Standard Time.
Tuesday November 10
In Minneapolis, as in so many other places around the country, the Movement for Black Lives responded to police murders of Black people - like Jamar Clark and Philando Castile - in ways that have transformed the political landscape and resurfaced deep questions about the role of police in our communities. Anchored by Black Visions Collective, MPD150, and Reclaim the Block, our organizing in Minneapolis has shifted from short-term reactions in the streets to changing the narrative around community safety and social control with long-haul abolitionist movement building.
Presenters from these organizations will share lessons we have learned and facilitate the group as we dig into questions like: How do we use art and stories to help our communities and decision makers imagine a world without police? What do we do when those in power who claim to be allies to our movement or represent the communities we come from don’t deliver on their promises? How can a grassroots narrative-based strategy deliver change at the level of budgets and policies?
After this workshop, participants will be able to: explain the historical connection between white supremacy and policing; guide questions and answers in discussions that make tangible the vision of a police-free world; envision campaign designs that change the narrative from one of police reform to one with real community-based alternatives to the police.
This workshop will examine racial justice approaches to organizing and will engage participants through presentations and small group work. We will present the main framework of organizing and racial justice and examine the history of fo racial justice organizing.
We will discuss what makes organizing a unique and important approach to social change rooted in a theory of change based on an analysis of power.
This year, climate chaos of hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and heatwaves have rolled throughout the country, compounding with overlapping crises of COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse, and chronic racial inequality. These crises have cast a light on deep inequality -- low-income communities and communities of color are most impacted by these crises because of historic discrimination and disinvestment. Solutions to the acute crises of our moment, and the long-term climate crisis must center racial and economic justice. The Green New Deal proposes a roadmap to address these intersecting crises. A bold, equitable economic recovery could pave the way by creating millions of good green jobs. But equity in our policy solutions is not guaranteed – we must fight for it.
Communities of color have been organizing for environmental justice against the twin threats of pollution and racism for decades. Today allies across environmental, labor, racial justice, and youth movements are banding together to advance a vision for what is needed for communities to thrive in the face of catastrophe. From local and regional policy victories won by powerful coalitions, to a plan for a national economic recovery, the climate justice movement is embedding racial equity into climate solutions. In this workshop learn how multi-sectoral coalitions at the state and national level are designing equitable climate policy, building power, and winning. Bring your experience and challenges you face in organizing for climate justice policy, to contribute to shared learning and visioning on how a Green New Deal can repair historic inequities and uplift all communities.
Restorative justice represents a complete paradigm shift from viewing harm as a violation of the law to understanding it as a violation of people and relationships that requires individual, interpersonal, community, and system-wide accountability and healing. This approach is a powerful tool for all communities, especially marginalized and silenced ones, because it offers a system that does not require centralized or concentrated power. With this in mind, we are collaborating with community-based organizations and systems partners in counties across the country to establish pre-charge, restorative justice diversion programs for serious harm. These programs rely on consensus-based plans through face-to-face dialogues to meet survivors’ needs and bring all affected parties into accountability processes that repair and rebuild relationships without reliance on criminalization.
Through this workshop, we will first use slides and images to describe our work supporting communities in creating restorative justice diversion processes to replace the criminalization of youth of color. We will then lead participants through a visioning exercise to imagine what it would look like to live in truly “restorative cities” where, for instance, each individual is valued, people do not call the police when harm occurs, people live in relationship with one another, and there is collective decision making and accountability by all community stakeholders. Finally, participants will break into region-based, small groups to discuss concrete ways they can support each other (perhaps through the creation of regional coalitions) and incorporate restorative justice practices as they take steps towards realizing the types of communities they have envisioned.
The American two-party system is bad for anyone who cares about racial equity. It creates a dynamic whereby one party is hostile and the other gives lip service, but believes it can take the votes of people of color for granted. Moving beyond our current system, “first-past-the-post”, which is a holdover from our British colonial history, may seem impossible. But, in fact, communities across the country have experimented with many reforms. One promising voting system, proportional representation, was implemented in New York City in the 1930’s. 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.
The workshop provides a crash course for advocates to learn about the ins and outs of electoral systems reform as it relates to racial equity. First, we will cover the range of values implicit in electoral systems, review the mechanics of the major ones in the US, and run an election to provide some hand-on experience. We will then discuss the implication of electoral systems on voting rights and building political power for communities of color and show a short documentary on a recent reform in Michigan. The session will end with some opportunities for making change happen in your communities.
Wednesday November 11
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday November 12
How come antisemitism never seems to stick to the Right? Republicans draw on antisemitism to animate their violent white nationalist base, then use false or exaggerated charges of antisemitism as a tactic to smear progressives --especially Muslims and women of color -- while deflecting their own responsibility.
How can we understand and address antisemitism, hold the Right accountable, and keep Republicans from using antisemitism as a weapon to divide progressives? How can we situate a response to antisemitism within our vision for liberation for all of us?
In this session, we’ll deepen our understanding of the dynamics of antisemitism, including how it has been used by the Right, yesterday and today, as a tactic to undermine social movements and divide natural allies.
In a session led by movement leaders on the front lines of this evolving work across the country, participants will come away with concrete strategies to:
--Address antisemitism in our movements;
--Spot antisemitic tropes and find new ways to express our ideas without falling into traps;
--Prevent mistakes and missteps that fuel antisemitism and division;
--Identify and respond to the weaponization of antisemitism by the Right; and
--Apply an antisemitism analysis to our narrative work around race and class.
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.
The conventional wisdom in political circles is that we have to run away from race when we talk with voters. This has allowed the far right to fill up all of the space and define the conversation about race and about immigration, especially in the Trump era. The results for our collective movement have been disastrous, as the narrative about communities of color has become even more toxic and treacherous. What are we to do as organizers, especially as we look beyond the 2020 elections?
The good news is that when we contest for space and meaning, our narrative will win – even in the places we think are the hardest to break through. Based on over 3,000 Deep Canvass conversations with conflicted voters in rural areas in red/purple states, grassroots organizations of People’s Action have demonstrated that we can lead with our values and stories and break through to victory.
Join this breakout and training session to learn about Deep Canvassing, using the Race Class Narrative pioneered by Anat Shenker-Osorio. Participants will learn the foundations of Deep Canvassing, hone a script, practice their own Deep Canvass skills and reflect on how they could bring these skills home. Organizers and canvassers from Pennsylvania Stands Up and Down Home North Carolina will help lead the training session.
This session will examine cannabis legalization through the lens of racial and economic justice by giving participants an overview of the impact of the War on Drugs in Black and Brown communities, making the case for why it is both crucial and timely to develop policy solutions to repair the legacy of structural disinvestment catalyzed by disproportionate surveillance and arrest rates throughout the 80s, 90s and today.
Public discourse currently focuses on the need to diversify dispensary ownership, but this session will touch on the intersections between racial justice and the emerging cannabis industry that are commonly overlooked, such as: Access to capital and financing; Automatic record expungement; Workforce development and parity; Tax structures and allocation; Spatial distribution of cannabis businesses ("Green Zones"); Disparities in licensing and enforcement in the legal market, and how the tension between federal and state/local cannabis policy can pose unique challenges for those who rely on federal benefits like public housing and cash assistance.
Panelists will highlight the unique strategies and alliances between grassroots advocacy and the government sector that have been instrumental in pushing forth equity initiatives in California and beyond, and will share their challenges, frustrations and lessons learned from developing social equity programs across the country.
Racial justice strives for full liberation. How to get there from here is the question. This workshop will begin with a framework for evaluating and creating policy demands that advance racial justice. Participants will work together to assess how to build short-term
goals that build leadership and impact the lives of our members while marching down the path toward liberation.
Solidarity requires constant practice that must happen in community.
This breakout session explores the internal mechanisms that lead to either performative or transformative acts of solidarity. Under the Trump administration, communities have been relentlessly and explicitly targeted based on race, nationality, faith, gender, and sexual orientation. A scarcity mindset underlies these attacks, and social justice organizations have shifted the narrative by using a solidarity strategy that reveals the true abundance of power that exists when we work together.
This doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a shared vision of liberation and an understanding that centering the most impacted may require a revaluation of how we organize and operate. By working through the decision-making process that happens when engaging in acts of solidarity, participants will gain insight into how to tackle shifting their organizational culture. Examples from active campaigns in the racial justice, immigrant rights, and MASA movement space will take this dialogue from theory into practice.
Participants will walk away with a toolkit that offers concrete ways to analyze their organizations current solidarity practices, ways to course correct and engage in “movement maintenance”, and ideas to sustain and promote the leadership of younger or junior level staff.
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.