2020 Program Topic:
Multiracial and Intersectional Organizing
All times Eastern Standard Time.
Tuesday November 10
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.
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.
Is your organization committed to working towards racial equity, but struggling to create a tangible work plan or to identify your next steps? This workshop will introduce a collaboratively-created racial equity assessment tool that helps organizations and coalitions create workable next steps for internal and external practices and policies, wherever they are in their racial equity learning and journey. You’ll get hands-on practice, a chance to work collaboratively with other racial equity leaders, and tools to take home with you that outline a clear path forward for you and your organization.
This racial equity assessment tool was created communally by the Puget Sound Cohort on Equity, Infrastructure, and the Environment to answer the question of how multiracial coalitions hold each other and themselves accountable in a way that advances racial equity, and what that can that look like in practice. The toolkit is designed to assist white-led or majority-white organizations in self-identifying their current level of racial equity accountability and provides concrete next steps for organizations to follow, wherever they are in their racial equity practice.
In this workshop we will walk through the assessment tool’s four levels of accountability: individual, organizational, with community, and in building solidarity with other organizations. Participants will reflect on their own organizations and discuss next steps, resources, and continued learning tailored to each aspect and level of racial equity practice.
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.
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.
Our proposed session aims to dismantle anti-blackness and white supremacy among Latinx communities and those that work with Latinx communities. We create a space where we display, present, and analyze how white supremacy and antiblackness have insidiously moved through history, time, space, and society, thereby normalizing it and pointing out traditions, practices, and myths among U.S. Latinxs that are seldom interrogated as anti-black. For example: "there is no racism in Latin America," "class matters more than race," "we are all mixed so how can we be racist?" "we don't identify along racial lines, it is more about our nationalities," "we are all equal in Latin America," "there are no whites in Latin America," "there are no Blacks in X country," "Latinxs do not identify racially, this is a new thing and U.S.-centric," all statements untrue. We offer ways to pushback and re-imagine other ways of being. It is also useful for non-Latinx individuals to receive this information as U.S. politics is tied to Latin American politics. Many of these biases are steeped in "tradition" or "that's just the way it is" with very little interrogation, these ideas and attitudes are often unknowingly replicated and continuously duplicated though generations. Many may never have even had to confront how their positionality and behaviors exhibit loyalty and investment to white hegemony. We invite folks to examine these phenomenas, keeping in mind many behaviors were and are survival tactics to re-imagine other possibilities that recognize our full humanity for future generations.
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.
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 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.
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.
People of color are living an economic nightmare. This interactive workshop invites participants to imagine and explore what our economy would look like if this nation centered the economic liberation of people of color. Because racism has always been profitable, we have never experienced an economy free from extraction and exploitation. As the seductive guise of neoliberalism breaks down, we, as people of color, have an opportunity to create and design a new economic philosophy that delivers freedom, dignity, choice and belonging in the coming generation. Our goals with this workshop are to:
Create a sense of ownership and agency among activists about solutions to economic oppression.
Identify ways of telling the story of a new economy; allowing space and time for dreaming and imagining a new economy.
Inspire actions that wield collective power and use this story as a basis for demands
Liberation in a Generation will share our take on the systems and policies that uphold our current Oppression Economy and possible values and policies that could usher in a Liberation Economy. We will then invite participants to create stories based on a set of predetermined fictional newspaper headlines set in 2050. We will facilitate a fun and engaging process to coach participants through the development of a story and an artifact that depicts the things that have happened to make this headline possible. We will share those stories, draw out themes and discuss how these do or do not connect to our current realities.
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.