2018 Program: Writing and Journalism on Race
When Trumpian Republican candidate Roy Moore lost the Alabama special senate election, the whole country rushed to #ThankBlackWomen: 98% of Black women voters rejected Moore, and we were credited for, once again, saving everyone else from themselves.
But we need more than your thanks — we need policies that work for our communities. Black women are dealt some of the worst blows under conservative leadership. The left must see Black women as more than a reliable voting bloc, but as the vanguards of a more progressive future. By prioritizing the needs of Black women constituents — following the lead of Black women organizers, thought leaders, and candidates — we can build a country where all of us thrive. What media narratives must shift to make this happen? What political issues need reframing, and how?
Echoing Ida, a Forward Together home for social change communicators, amplifies Black women's visions for justice in everything from abortion access to paid leave to criminalization. In this session, we’ll start a conversation with editor and reproductive justice expert Cynthia Greenlee (Rewire), political strategist Jessica Byrd (Three Point Strategies), paid leave and economic justice movement leader Erica Clemmons (9to5 Georgia), media maker and organizer Amber Phillips (Black Joy Mixtape), and our attendees. Together, we’ll review the wins and losses of the last election, discuss the ways Black women were engaged and portrayed, and offer narrative frames that will take us into our progressive future — one where Black women’s needs are centered and championed.
The Women in Comics Collective International is an organization that focuses on highlighting the merit and craft work of women working in the comic book industry. They host workshops, art shows, and panel discussions across the country; as well as their own comic book convention in NYC called 'WinC Con', (pronounced Wink). Through their work to empower themselves they have empowered the greater community by teaching others how to use the medium of comics as both literacy and advocacy tools. They are an example of people who were very passionate about their work and equally as passionate about using this medium to help empower their community through educational and career accessibility. This workshop will not only discuss how comics can be used as advocacy tools, but how any career can be used as a basis for community organization and galvanization.
Books can play a major role in changing the national discussion about urgent social issues. A well-written book that makes a well-researched argument or uses a unique narrative thread to illustrate the need for reform can be an essential tool to popularize ideas that can change the world. At The New Press, we’ve found that movement leaders can be best positioned to share a unique vision for change.
Workshop leaders will illustrate how a book can help leverage change. Participants will gain practical knowledge about how to move through the stages of book publishing, including: developing a book concept; preparing a cogent, well-informed proposal; strategies for researching; drafting a manuscript; publicizing the book; and collaborating with organizations to amplify the book’s impact. We will share relevant resources, key examples, and case studies.
The New Press is uniquely positioned as a non-profit publisher in the public interest to seek out authors committed to social change, and to develop works of nonfiction that set forth paradigm-shifting ideas. Our catalog includes works from Studs Terkel and Noam Chomsky, and more recent contributions to conversations in criminal and economic justice, and education reform, including Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow; Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children; Ai-jen Poo’s The Age of Dignity; Susan Burton’s Becoming Ms. Burton; Arjun Sethi's American Hate; and Deepa Iyer’s We Too Sing America. It also includes a series of post-2016 “fearless books," which focuses on the ideas, solutions, and perspectives of those targeted for oppression by the Trump administration.
The media system, like the criminal justice, educational, and other systems, wasn’t created to help communities of color. The mainstream media has been a primary author of a racist narrative that supports destructive policies and practices that harm our communities.
This is why it is worthy remembering the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report. The Commission was appointed by President Johnson to study the causes of the racial uprisings in 1967 in cities like Newark and Detroit. But the report also documented the media’s role in contributing to our nation’s racial divisions which persists today.
Meanwhile, it is almost impossible for people of color to achieve racial justice if we are unable to tell our own stories. But people of color own few broadcast outlets and fewer cable networks due to institutional and structural racism. This is why a small group of media makers of color have worked together this past year to tell the story of race and media by reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report. During this session, we will explore in small group discussions what media makers can accomplish by working collectively to organize and tell stories that challenges systemic racism in the media. We will also discuss what media transformation looks like. And what should be the story of race and media 50 years from now?
The commoditization of storytelling regularly overshadows its healing and mobilizing potential through its capitalist or commercial exploitation (e.g., trading trauma for points in poetry slams, equating stories to advertising revenue). However, testimony possesses a healing and mobilizing utility. Our immediate access to information in the age of social media presents a unique opportunity to convert what is often a solitary and isolated battle into a catalyst for mobilization. Interrelational testimony allows storytellers to reconnect with themselves in novel and generative ways, break social barriers, and rally the masses to move forward collectively toward liberation. Present day griots cut through superficial social limits and build bridges to unclog the blurred paths of communication between communities. When people gather around this revolutionary act of storytelling, supportive communities develop. Storytelling becomes a tool to improve the quality of human lives in unpredictable ways by expanding and diversifying the spectrum of experience, challenging limiting beliefs, and inserting marginalized experiences into the canon of global history.
In this session, participants learn by doing and explore the practice of storytelling as a critical method for survival and prosperity. By documenting personal stories and focusing on the facts, we can develop compassionate language, shift our perspective, and find solutions to societal problems. We learn how to create and revisit a transcendent compendium of our lives to unearth the paralyzing narratives which no longer serve our health and success. We can excavate ourselves from the boxes society has drawn to pigeonhole us and chart new ones.
Racist and misogynist media narratives about our communities, challenges, and needs shape public policy, systemic discrimination, victim-blaming, and violence. And in the Trump era, corporate media have become bolder in normalizing white supremacy. Why is media literacy crucial to — and how can it bolster — our movements? Do media economics and consolidation impact our work? How can we generate positive, authentic media coverage? And, how can we create our own media for racial and gender justice?
In this hands-on workshop, facilitators will:
*introduce core media literacy frameworks
*link racist, misogynist media messages to corporate media’s structural and commercial biases
*highlight compelling media (video, radio, print, social media)made by artists, organizers, and educators
*share best practices for strategic communications outreach, framing/messaging, and narrative shift
Through group dialogue and interactive exercises, participants will learn how to:
*become active, critical media consumers
*challenge racist, misogynist framing and scapegoating
*link oppressive representations to media consolidation
*envision authentic, accurate media narratives about race/gender; then, plan to generate such narratives within self-created media, and by effectively framing and pitching racial and gender justice issues to journalists
Participants will leave with the enthusiasm, language, and tools they need to shift bigoted narratives, create anti-racist media, and generate effective media coverage. Tangible takeaways will include:
*an outline for crafting messages and pitching press to generate positive media coverage of their racial/gender justice advocacy work
*a preliminary plan to create one or more pieces of anti-racist media (video, film, print or online journalism, radio/podcast, #hashtag campaign, infographic, other)