2022 Program Topic:
Friday November 18
Transwomen of color will discuss their experience with incarceration and criminalization due to being transwomen of color engaged in sex work. They will share their experience and how they worked to create decrim NYC. There will be engaging story telling and conversation that invites attendees to think through how they can support transwomen of color sex workers and help to shift racist and misogynist legislation in their regions.
In this workshop, the New Social Contract project – a collaboration between Partners for Dignity and Rights and Race Forward – will present community organizing models that have advanced deep, democratic control of the institutions that shape our lives. The true democracy we must move toward is both racially and economically just – which will ensure that all people can fully participate. All over the country, communities and workers are shifting decision-making power to neighborhood residents, students and teachers, workers and working class communities, and introducing real accountability to make sure that these institutions uphold everyone’s fundamental human rights. We are honored to share three inspiring Black and immigrant community-led organizing models that point organizers and advocates towards opportunities to replicate, scale and institutionalize democracy that centers racial and economic justice, as cornerstones of a transformed economy, for the people over profits.
One component of racially and economically just democracy is co-governance – a mode of participation and decision-making in which government and communities work together through formal structures to make collective policy decisions, co-create programs to meet community needs, and make sure those policies and programs are implemented effectively. A prerequisite is established and thorough community-based organizing and engagement among those who have been historically marginalized.
Featuring Rukia Lumumba of People’s Advocacy Institute and Electoral Justice of the Movement for Black Lives; Rosie Grant of the Paterson Education Fund; and Shaw San Liu of the Chinese Progressive Association-San Francisco, moderated by Leah Obias of Race Forward, this workshop will:
Ground participants in a framework for democracy that centers racial and economic justice and weaves together the many insightful frameworks our movement partners have developed.
Share existing models that demonstrate how community members leverage their years of relationship-building and organizing to engage with government entities in order to influence both policy and culture. The speakers will address infrastructure and electoral organizing in Jackson, MS; restorative justice in schools in Paterson, NJ; and workers’ rights in San Francisco.
Share lessons and strategies for advancing racially and economically just democracy and co-governance that can be tested in attendees’ local communities.
Building from the grassroots, the Policy Innovation Lab collective is working to disrupt the patterns of traditional policy development, positioning communities as owners and decision-makers over the policies that directly affect their daily lives. From food justice, water infrastructure, tenant rights, and energy democracy, these four community-driven organizations are learning from each other’s organizing and taking an intersectional approach in their policy development by connecting these climate justice issues and addressing them through a racial and gender justice lens.
During this session, you will have the chance to rethink the traditional local policy process and provide feedback on the ways we can ground in frameworks like the Just Transition and a Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal. You will hear how this collective continues to move away from the traditional policy process and redefine how our communities create and drive our collective future. And you will be able to engage in how we redefine what winning means that goes beyond the passage of policy. Come to this session ready to redefine our policy process and to learn from the collective wisdom of the Policy Innovation Lab partners and the pathways they are building to create racially equitable policy.
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.
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.
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.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) represents an opportunity and an imperative for local governments to intentionally engage with and invest in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and populations who, because of deliberate governmental and institutional policy decisions, are regularly harmed by and disenfranchised from government budgeting processes. ARPA funds can be truly transformational, both as a process to build community power, and because of investments that address community defined priorities. But cities need help to make this a reality. Institutional and cultural polices and engrained practices limit what is thought to be possible, even with an intention to push beyond what has normally been done. In this workshop and based on our experiences in Massachusetts, we will describe, discuss, and collectively identify solutions that: increase power for BIPOC and other disenfranchised populations to decide how public resources get spent (not just provide input), and normalize actions that demonstrate how government can collaborate with residents who have been historically excluded.
Workshop participants will gain ideas, skills, and examples to go back to their communities to:
- Describe ARPA and its opportunity for transformational change, particularly in communities of color
- Amplify key messages related to ARPA and the requirement to embed equity in the process
- Identify examples from the field and brainstorm considerations moving forward
- Apply tools and methods to disrupt traditional decision-making processes in government budgeting processes by advocating for community-led processes
- Practice power and actor mapping with participant’s community in mind
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.
Racial justice leaders have long understood the importance of data in advancing equity, but there are few accessible tools that allow them to see their communities through a geographic lens to build community power and equitable solutions. Geographic Tools to Advancing Racial Justice at the Community Level will guide community leaders through a systematic approach to assess disparate outcomes, identify solutions, and amplify community voices. At this session, we will provide community leaders with guidance about data and tools needed to assess and identify solutions, as well as equip participants with specific guidance on how to leverage these types of analyses to inform policy and co-governance. Opportunities will be provided for strategic dialogue and co-creation of important community-driven analyses that can be implemented by participants across geographies. We will demonstrate available tools and share how to use a geographic approach to address systemic issues. We will also show examples, showcase opportunities, and build an understanding and awareness of how using a place-based analyses can help to achieve racial justice.
What does it take to build a long-game strategy to organize policymakers, mobilizers, and narrative shapers, in the city ranked dead last for civic trust? In 2017, Chicago United for Equity started as a question, asking what was possible if trust could be kindled between organizers, policymakers, artists, and researchers who shared a commitment to community-led policymaking.
In the five years since, the CUE network has grown in both cultivating community-led policymaking outside of government, while simultaneously working to open up government from the inside. This session will start with the story of origin for CUE’s work, and the CUE Fellowship model that began in 2017. Participants will dive into two stories of change that have emerged inside and outside government: a community-led budgeting process launched in the midst of the uprisings, and a government-led process to engage community leaders in responding to the crisis of the pandemic.
In illustrating these case studies, participants will engage with models for cross-sector collaboration, lessons learned for the challenges along the way, and what foundations are necessary to sustain relationships across the inside/outside game.
Saturday November 19
What are the possibilities when communities of color work collectively across-race to deepen shared power, organize and develop future-forward democratizing practices and structures that offer a vision for true democracy and transformation with racial justice as the horizon?
In this session community leaders from local coalitions and networks will present a snapshot of the vision, values, culture and practices that are informing this push for community ownership of the institutions that determine their lives. Multi-sectoral efforts for racial justice necessitate the development of new democratic practices that place r transformation at the front and center, along with prioritizing of transparency, accountability, and deeper relationships – centering bold solutions for the long haul.
Speakers TBD but will include representatives from local coalitions and networks in the Puget Sound and Northern California who are building multiracial power for racial justice and transformation in their communities. The session will be supported by Fernando Mejia Ledesma, Co-executive Director of Puget Sound SAGE and Jesse Villalobos from Race Forward’s Place-Based Initiatives, who works to support local racial justice networks in deepening their collective power to bring bold vision into fruition.
The PBC community workshops are central to the engagement approach, and include tools and resources to make this learning and sharing experience highly didactic, inclusive, and accessible. PBC is a multidisciplinary project combining skills, assets, and methods from popular education, civic engagement, community organizing, arts, and design. Throughout the breakout sessions we intend to utilize the PBC toolkit to support community workshops. The toolkit includes assets to interactively participate and visually document the different parts of the workshop:
Reflection and visioning - This part facilitates a conversation about experiences and ideation, focuses on sharing personal experiences and collective visions, and is guided by the question: what do our communities need to be safe and thriving? Reflection and envisioning as part of the methodology is foundational, allowing people to connect and expand their imaginations. This will be mostly reflected in the panel discussion and as we begin building a budget.
Participatory budget game - This part is intended to support a collective discussion about budget priorities and shared decision-making. Understanding and comparing budget data is a very powerful aspect of the engagement process. After developing their visionary community budget, participants compare it to a city’s actual budget. This moment ignites action and activates next steps.
Activation and connection - During this part of the workshop, the group is prompted to synthesize key themes and debrief with one another to actualize their work into action.
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.
In this session, we will be focusing on the intricate reality of water. What is happening with the rivers, lakes, and groundwater in Arizona? For decades, the Sonoran Desert in 'Arizona' has been in drought... but what have the state institutions done about it? Have they been saving water or taking water from Indigenous tribes? We will discuss Arizona's water future or lack thereof and how communities of color will take on the brunt of the impacts. Finally, we will discuss climate justice solutions needed on the state and local levels.
Income and wealth inequality, exploitative working conditions, and commercial displacement are critical issues faced by communities across the country. Traditional economic development tools often exacerbate inequalities, particularly for those most marginalized by existing economic policies including low-income communities, recent immigrants, returning citizens, and communities of color.
Worker ownership can create jobs with dignity and opportunities for wealth building. While cities and communities are beginning to explore and invest in employee ownership, the strategy is largely underrecognized despite its proven effectiveness.
This session will demonstrate how communities have used worker ownership strategies to create access to stable employment, put productive assets into the hands of workers, and anchor critical assets in the community. Attendees will discuss how these approaches connect to their needs and priorities and will learn how to take the first steps in developing a worker cooperative project in their communities.
Attendees will leave with a toolkit on how to develop a strategy for preserving BIPOC-owned small businesses and/or small businesses with majority BIPOC workforces through transitions to worker ownership. Attendees will also learn how to support the development of a worker cooperative that provides sustainable work and entrepreneurship opportunities for workers with barriers to employment.