2022 Program Topic:
Friday November 18
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.
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.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure was designed to infiltrate and undermine social movements, much like a Trojan Horse. The status was created as a vehicle for protecting generational wealth and has led to a shift from community-based mutual aid to hierarchical institutions providing social services. In order to meet the needs of exploited and marginalized communities, nonprofits depend on the support of wealthy people and institutions whose wealth comes from the exploitation and marginalization of those same communities. Moreover, philanthropists, foundations, governments, and businesses too often wield their financial contributions to undermine nonprofits' efforts to disrupt and change the root causes of oppression. While presented as a solution for professionalizing social justice and filling gaps in social services, the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) actually reinforces social control while protecting those with the most power.
During this workshop, we will unpack the systemic challenges facing nonprofits that seek to disrupt and transform the inequitable status quo in our society. We will explore the history and rise of the NPIC and how nonprofits are vulnerable to reproducing the same forms of oppression they strive to resist. We will examine how power, privilege, and oppression manifest within nonprofits both through the micro-lens of our own intersectional experience as well as the macro-lens of capitalism and systemic racism. Drawing on the lived experiences of participants, we will explore Rested Root’s unique framework for how we can TR.A.N.S.F.O.R.M. the nonprofit industrial complex. The session includes grounding practices, games, personal reflection, and breakout groups for brainstorming strategies.
Saturday November 19
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.