2020 Program Topic:
Innovations in Racial Justice
Tuesday November 10
Learn about how to operationalize racial equity at the city and county level from leaders from three states. Hear the perspectives from the Chief Equity Officers from Asheville, NC; Fairfax, VA; and San Antonio, TX and learn about their successes, challenges, and opportunities for the future. Panelists will discuss their policy approaches, strategy for community development and how to make change in government institutions.
The ways we use and create evidence can help structural racism to reproduce itself. And we are accountable.
"Why Am I Always Being Researched?” began as Chicago Beyond’s letter to ourselves, drawn from our own steps and missteps. Chicago Beyond examined our own practices and behaviors in funding, and in how research is conducted. We noticed more and more how the structures we use to find what works to improve communities may be negatively impacted by the same power dynamics that have propped up systemic injustice. The framework has strengthened our work and the work of many others— from philanthropies to research institutions to nonprofits organizing within their institutional structures to shift practices. The presenters will share learnings from using “Why Am I Always Being Researched?” to challenge orthodoxy in research and evaluation where it does not line up with community needs.
This session will: (1) Introduce the framework of “Why Am I Always Being Researched?”; (2) Share how we and other institutions across philanthropy, research and nonprofits have operationalized it; (3) Lead an active session to equip participants with the tools to recognize faster and more often where the evidence is hiding inequities; and (4) Facilitate participants identifying practical shifts in their work.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.