Facing Race: A National Conference in St. Louis, MO — November 20-22, 2024

Deepa Iyer

Senior Advisor at Building Movement Project and Director of Solidarity Is | Solidarity Is
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Deepa Iyer is a Senior Advisor at Building Movement Project and Director of Solidarity Is, a project that provides trainings, narratives, and resources on building deep and lasting multiracial solidarity. Iyer is a South Asian American writer, lawyer, strategist, facilitator, and activist whose areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, immigration and civil rights policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices.

Iyer’s first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future, received a 2016 American Book Award.

Twitter: @dviyer

Presentations from Facing Race 2022

Whose “American” Words to Transform(N)ations

From the “American Dream” to the “Nation of Immigrants,” the United States’ defining myths have planted and maintained a racist and selective history in the common imagination. What does it mean to become an “American," to claim belonging in a country built on genocide and enslavement? Racial Justice Reads 2022 opens with this stimulating panel of three attorneys turned authors who have taken up these types of questions in three very different genres. Deepa Iyer is author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future, and the forthcoming Social Change Now: A Guide for Reflection and Connection. Kung Li Sun has—after years of tireless advocacy on the national and southern regional level—written Begin the World over, a “fictional alternate history of how the Founders’ greatest fear—that Black and indigenous people might join forces to undo the newly formed United States—comes true.” Sofia Ali Khan recently published her first book A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America, which can be seen as a memoir of both a person and place. Together with Racial Justice Reads founder R. Cielo Cruz, this panel will delve into the personal and political struggles of telling an “American” story.

Speakers: Kung Li Sun, Deepa Iyer, Sofia Ali Khan, R. Cielo Cruz

Presentations from Facing Race 2020

Better together: How to practice transformative solidarity

Solidarity requires constant practice that must happen in community.

This breakout session explores the internal mechanisms that lead to either performative or transformative acts of solidarity. Under the Trump administration, communities have been relentlessly and explicitly targeted based on race, nationality, faith, gender, and sexual orientation. A scarcity mindset underlies these attacks, and social justice organizations have shifted the narrative by using a solidarity strategy that reveals the true abundance of power that exists when we work together.

This doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a shared vision of liberation and an understanding that centering the most impacted may require a revaluation of how we organize and operate. By working through the decision-making process that happens when engaging in acts of solidarity, participants will gain insight into how to tackle shifting their organizational culture. Examples from active campaigns in the racial justice, immigrant rights, and MASA movement space will take this dialogue from theory into practice.

Participants will walk away with a toolkit that offers concrete ways to analyze their organizations current solidarity practices, ways to course correct and engage in “movement maintenance”, and ideas to sustain and promote the leadership of younger or junior level staff.

Speakers: Deepa Iyer, Anna Castro

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

If You Ran a Solidarity Workshop...

This session will be an open conversation about how people engage in solidarity practice, and the components and elements that they would like to see in a curriculum and workshop emphasizing solidarity. We will be gathering input and ideas for a solidarity practice curriculum tailored towards young people.

Speakers: Deepa Iyer, Anna Castro

Presentations from Facing Race 2016

Changing the Big Story on Race

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to shift the way we understand the world around us, to create empathy, and effect change. Narrative change projects aim primarily to shift the way that a particular community or issue is characterized in the press or popular culture. There might be an immediate policy goal, or it could be part of a broader strategy. It usually involves significant media and communications work, including distribution planning for research reports, and creation of visual storytelling products like short videos. How do you know when a narrative change project is needed as part of your campaign? In this session expert panelists Malkia Cyril, Deeepa Iyer, and Tracy Van Slyke share examples of successful campaigns they have run, and offer insights as to what makes a narrative change project effective, and how to measure impact.

Speakers: Rinku Sen, Malkia Cyril, Deepa Iyer

The War on Terror, 15 Years Later

Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian communities continue to face the consequences of the policies and actions taken after the attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2016, the year we marked the 15 year anniversary of 9/11, reports of hate violence, workplace discrimination and school bullying spiked around the nation. Surveillance and counterterrorism policies are placing communities in danger and setting the tone for a national climate of suspicion and fear. How are communities responding? Where do we go from here? How must broader racial justice movements include and incorporate issues confronting our communities? Our panelists - Kalia Abiade (Center for New Community), Azadeh Shahshahani (Project South), Arjun Sethi (The Sikh Coalition), and Deepa Iyer (The Center for Social Inclusion) - provide analyses and best practices.

Speakers: Deepa Iyer, Kalia Abiade, Arjun Sethi, Asma Elhuni

Presentations from Facing Race 2014

Racial (In)Justice in the Post 9/11 Era

Anti-immigrant sentiment and the post 9/11 backlash demonstrate the heightened racial anxiety in our country in the thirteen years since 9/11. South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh community members have especially experienced the brunt of these two driving forces. In this session, we will explore in particular the following themes: (1) the impact of xenophobic political discourse, policies and actions targeting these communities; and (2) the ways in
which communities are pushing back against these two forces in the context of broader immigrant and racial justice movements. This session will be moderated by Deepa Iyer (Race Forward board member), with experts from South Asian Americans Leading Together, Center for New Communities, and the National Network on Arab American Communities.

Speakers: Deepa Iyer, Linda Sarsour, Jill Garvey, Suman Raghunathan

Presentations from Facing Race 2012

Facing Race on Xenophobic Hate Crimes

Over the past decade, hate crimes have been on the rise, affecting people of color, LGBTIQ communities, and immigrants. What explains this rise in hate violence? What are the various ways in which community members are impacted by this climate? And, what solutions need to be put into place? Join us for a discussion moderated byDeepa Iyer,Executive Director ofSouth Asian Americans Leading Together.

Speakers: Deepa Iyer, Linda Sarsour, Rajdeep Singh