2022 Program Topic:
Reparations and Reconciliation
Friday November 18
What is food, and how is it central to timely and urgent conversations around identity, racial justice, community organizing, environmental activism, and decolonization? For so many people, especially BIPOC, food is so much more than what goes in our bellies. It is a lifeline back to other homelands, a conduit for immigrant parents’ love, a medicine that transcends borders, or a map that tells stories of resistance, migration, struggle, survival, and joy. Christopher Tse and Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal will facilitate an interactive space in which we explore and reclaim our relationships with food, community, and identity. Through small group work, circle, and storytelling approaches, this workshop seeks to unpack questions such as: “What’s your favorite cultural practice around food?” “What’s an example of a time you felt embarrassed or ashamed about food?” and “How do you cook your rice?”
In a time of globalization and easy access to other cultures, food has become yet another site of colonialism, power, and white supremacy. Celebrity chefs rave about the utility of turmeric and star anise while gentrification shuts down old kitchen bastions of racialized communities and replaces them with culinary fusion cafes that photograph well for social media. It’s time to reclaim these stories. This workshop is for every kid who’s ever been afraid to open their lunchbox in the cafeteria. We see you, we’ve been there. Let’s talk about shame, and joy, and cut fruit. Let’s talk about spices and identity. Let’s talk about how we cook rice.
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.
In the wake of George Floyd and other Black Americans' murders by police in 2020, and subsequent uprisings, growing calls for a national truth commission and other reparative measures swelled in the United States. Yet, these demands and even their implementation are not new. Global examples of truth and repair mechanisms provide vital information for the prospects and limits of these processes.
While there are numerous examples of truth telling initiatives globally, and even locally in the United States, the value of these approaches has sometimes been overestimated or glorified, preventing us from gaining a comprehensive understanding of their true impact in addressing systemic oppression, as well as the challenges and limitations of their adoption.
In this session, the facilitators will share from their work at the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project to investigate, document, and explore global justice, truth telling, and accountability processes around the globe including in Northern Ireland, England, South Africa, Rwanda, and Canada, as well as local U.S. examples in Greensboro, NC, and the state of Maine.
In the second part of the session participants will be divided into small groups, assigned a case study, and invited to practice designing a truth commission, including choosing mechanisms that would be effective for addressing societal harm, and integrating strategies from their own racial justice organizing.
By exploring international examples and tools for action, we will expand our collective understanding of what societal restoration can look like, and propose recommendations for true justice and accountability.
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.
Decriminalization of small quantities of psychoactive substances for personal use, referred to as “decrim,” is one mode of modern reform. Public health scholarship endorses the uptake of decrim practices as a vehicle for reducing the harms associated with drug use, however, a Euro-centric model of drug criminalization alone risks reproducing racial inequality in the U.S., given the inherent anti-Black systems of criminal legal control already in place. Understanding the role of drug criminalization on disrupting the social fabric of communities is essential to the development of new visions of drug policies and understanding how new policies may ameliorate or exacerbate racial oppression.
The first aspect of the session will be a discussion between the presenters on how systems of drug criminalization influence aspects of community well-being and community-driven drug treatment supports. Experiences of community-owned treatment and healing supports will be presented to think through the investment strategies embedded within structural arrangements of drug systems and policies.
In the second half of the session, an advocacy practitioner will discuss what these findings mean to contemporary drug policy solutions and present a case study of cannabis legalization in Maryland demonstrating how linking legalization to community reinvestment was critical to gaining support for recent legislation.
As the country progresses with drug policy developments, we hope the research and policy work in Maryland will help to shape drug decriminalization dialogue and future decriminalization campaigns that undergirds critical race consciousness for reparations of the War on Drugs.