2022 Program Topic:
Friday November 18
One of the main ways white supremacy maintains its system of dominance is through perpetuating dissociation -- from our bodies, emotions, communities, and the natural world. At its worst, dissociation in white people manifests as violence and terror inflicted on BIPOC bodies. White dissociation can also look like denial, defensiveness, appropriation, silence, and/or distancing (especially from other white people). In our white antiracist organizing, disassociation impedes our ability to build authentic relationships, act with accountability, sit with discomfort and conflict, and share or release power. It can manifest as competition, unsustainable work habits and burnout, isolated and unaccountable action, lack of vision and imagination, and the inability to follow leadership of BIPOC communities.
As we seek to build a white antiracist identity and practice that is still emerging as a collective, we have the opportunity to reconnect to that which white supremacy seeks to destroy: our wholeness, interdependence, and humanity. In reclaiming and embodying these parts of ourselves, we enhance our ability to viscerally attune to the impact of racism, discern where we are responsible for its perpetuation, access the courage and vulnerability to repair, and engage in accountable organizing and action.
In this session, we'll explore what embodied antiracist practice looks and feels like. We will imagine a white antiracist identity that divests from practices of domination, extraction, consumption, and scarcity. We will explore how to take action, relate to each other, and organize from a place of embodiment, connection and interdependence. Come prepared to engage in emergent practice together.
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.
Love within the US context is often defined in overly individualistic, anemic, and depoliticized ways. It is discussed almost exclusively in the context of romance and its familial dimensions. Why and for what purpose? What of love and its role in social transformation? Grounded in Black liberation theology and Black feminist thought, this session will interrogate the Westernized construction of love. It will analyze the ways in which the everyday notion of love operates as a tool of oppression and perpetuates white supremacist ideology to shape our social realities, desirability, and diminishes our possibilities for social transformation. Instead, this session will offer us all an opportunity to interrogate what love is, how we have been socialized by it, and how it shapes our capacity to lead change and hold each other with loving accountability within the moment. Ultimately, this session is about reconceptualizing love in ways that helps us resist erasure and dehumanization, and defining it in ways that helps us heal. We will explore a Critical Theory of Love framework to interrogate our own social justice practices to ensure that we are not perpetuating oppression, but instead helping ourselves and others discover their power and heal.
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.
Providing a space for possibility. We hope to bi-directionally or in multi-directions, share knowledge, experiences while building community and for us to collectively organize. Combining together with our community to co-create knowledge and tell stories that lead to truth telling that is not present in public schools and providing the tools to get people thinking about the education system and the role it plays in the United States and what exactly can be done.
Offering care, concern, regard, and an opportunity for trust, truth, and community, Freedom school will share its curriculum from its one-day intensive on the political project of freedom schools.
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.
Have you ever wondered how mainstream society reduced a world of gender diversity 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. Eliminating transphobia from our world requires examining not only bigotry, but also the political and material interests of wealthy and powerful people. By the end of this workshop, participants will have a better understanding of how the gender binary functions systemically to maintain white, wealthy, cisgender men and women at the top of a hierarchy of people.
This session is an opportunity to explore where dominant ideas about multiracial identity have come from throughout American history, and how those ideas have been contested over time. This workshop will guide attendees in excavating the history of multiracial identity construction in the United States and the Americas through a series of historical vignettes that pose the following questions: How did the early colonial state address the existence of multiracial people as it enforced the racial hierarchy? What policies have influenced the possibility and practice of multiracial identity over time? What kinds of discursive interventions have people of color made into how we think about and practice multiracial identity?
Attendees will also look at how multiracial people today are articulating their identities and ancestries in ways that challenge white supremacy, and contribute to an emergent framework for understanding multiracial identity from a racial justice perspective.
People who identify as mixed race, multiracial, and/or as having mixed racial ancestry are encouraged to attend.
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.
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.
This session will revolve around much of the contents within my book, The 400-Year Holocaust: White America's Legal, Psychopathic, and Sociopathic Black Genocide - and the Revolt Against Critical Race Theory. The book examines and discusses factions of the legal history of anti-Blackness and whiteness through colonialism and the United States, and its impacts on present-day America. It centers anti-Blackness as the core tenet of "racism" in White America and amplifies its relationship to the inherent "value" of whiteness (i.e., white identity, white culture, white institutions, etc.). Participants will be led through several interactive exercises where they will look at the roots of anti-Blackness and white supremacy, and make linkages to the ways in which the tenets manifest daily behavioral patterns, decisioning, framing, conceptualizing, etc. Participants will then work together to develop strategies that will enable and empower them to consider anti-Blackness and whiteness as the root cause of injustice within and throughout American institutions.
Creative Reaction Lab was founded in support of the Uprising in Ferguson. Today, Creative Reaction Lab is building a youth-led, community-centered movement of a new type of Civic Leader: Redesigners for Justice. We plan to use the allotted time to engage participants in activities developed to dissect the components of the Equity-Centered Community Design (inviting diverse co-creators, building humility and equity, defining and assessing topic and community needs, ideating approaches, rapid prototyping, and testing and learning), which we currently use to redesign our local community. Our goal is for participants to view the youth of color within their community as co-designers and through our technique discover new ways to shift power and integrate them into the redesigning of our country's oppressive systems.
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.