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

Lara Kiswani

Executive Director | Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Lara Kiswani has worked as a youth and adult educator, is a lecturer at San Francisco State University, advisory board member of Critical Resistance, and executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. AROC is a grassroots organization that builds power in the Arab and Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area. They organize against war, repression and militarism. AROC is also a member of Bay Resistance, a network of faith, union, and community organizations that work to advance racial, economic, climate, & gender justice by activating individuals and families to defend against racist and white supremacist attacks.

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Right Wing Sheriffs and Strategies of Resistance

Many in the social justice sector are concerned about the use of the state surveillance and policing apparatus to target and undermine the civil liberties of marginalized populations, including immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. Somewhat less attention has been given to the issue of far right organizing within local law enforcement and the resultant misadministration of justice at a local level, as carried out by elected sheriffs. Right wing sheriffs are playing a crucial role in enabling ICE agents even in places where cities may have passed sanctuary city ordinances.
They also play a role in unspoken police department policies that further racial profiling and surveillance in our communities. This session will explore the historical roots of right wing Sheriffs and identify current trends within the context of creeping authoritarianism. It will highlight community organizing resisting and exposing the role of right wing Sheriffs. Activists will share tools used to expose right wing Sheriffs and explore the challenges of protecting communities, individuals, and institutions when law enforcement and other public institutions that have become increasingly less accessible due to racism, xenophobia and anti-Muslim bias among others.

Speakers: Cloee Cooper, Lara Kiswani

Cross-Movement Organizing: A Strategy to Resist and Dismantle Structural Oppression

Opponents of social justice regularly seek to divide communities of color and other vulnerable groups and pit communities against each other to advance their destructive agenda. Creating and upholding these divisions is crucial to maintaining the oppressive status quo. Structural racism and sexism among other isms are embedded in the fabric of our communities and impact the way we organize and resist. Thus, highlighting and learning from the various coalitions and multi-racial, multi-ethnic, interfaith, and multigenerational organizing that has grown in the last two years is an important avenue to further dismantle these oppressive structures. Communities across the country acknowledge that the systems seeking to marginalize specific communities often adversely affect their own and others. Not only recognizing that police abuses, immigration raids, anti-LGBTQ violence, and other attacks on our communities are often perpetuated and protected by the same sources, but also understanding that resisting such divisions is also about building the framework for an inclusive and pluralistic society. This workshop will detail the U.S. Right’s efforts to deprive communities of their shared humanity, pitting them against each other and distracting us from its efforts to marginalize and maintain injustices. Experienced activists will share their stories and tools for effective cross-movement organizing. Attendees will leave with a greater understanding of how to best approach community organizing that builds towards true justice for all.

Speakers: Cloee Cooper, Lara Kiswani