Malcolm Shanks

Pronouns: they/them

Malcolm Shanks is a researcher, writer, organizer, and facilitator. They use popular and political education to build strong movements, resilient groups, and connected people. Hailing from Washington, D.C., Malcolm has been involved in political organizing and education for more than a dozen years. They have worked in movements for peace, for gender liberation, for racial justice, and for decolonization. In 2017 they co-created the zine Decolonizing Gender, which has since been discussed, read, and shared in classrooms, museums, and other revolutionary spaces in more than 40 countries and in several languages.

Presentations from Facing Race 2020

Every Country Is Special: Taking off the Racist Goggles of American Exceptionalism

Why is the United States talked about as if it’s unique despite being similar to so many other nations? How is this the “land of the free” if there are slaveowners on our money? Why is the idea that America was never great offensive to so many people? This interactive workshop builds understanding of what some call American exceptionalism: the idea that the U.S. is the best or most free nation to ever exist. This idea filters out the experiences and stories of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color that contradict that narrative.

In our session, we will explore the racial ideas underpinning the “greatest nation on Earth” motto by tying white innocence and national pride to the real practices of erasing or even celebrating stolen land and lives. Can decolonization, reparations, and national pride coexist? Participants will build some shared language about the United States’ myths that exempt it/us from accountability for its/our human rights violations. We will practice a root-cause analysis and then apply it to countering these myths, and finally share some of the tools and frameworks that are keeping racial justice global.

Speakers: Malcolm Shanks, Shweta Moorthy

Decolonizing Gender: A Workshop

Have you ever wondered how mainstream society reduced the full diversity of humanity to "two genders"? In order to answer this question, we'll explore the story of race and gender in building the mainstream. This workshop focuses on how the gender binary operates through white supremacy, and how it is constructed to support a hierarchy of humans run by mostly white men. We'll also build tools and shared language to discuss gender identity and expression through a black feminist lens.

Participants will explore sex and gender through the lens of imperialism in U.S. history, analyzing how racial hierarchies have evolved over time through gender norms. We will then consider how it shows up in current LGBTQ organizing models, and what we can do to reduce the harm that toxic gender norms cause us and our communities.

Speakers: Malcolm Shanks

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum

Have you ever wondered how mainstream society reduced the full diversity of humanity to "two genders"? In order to answer this question, we'll explore the story of race and gender in building the mainstream. This workshop focuses on how the gender binary operates through white supremacy, and how it is constructed to support a hierarchy of humans run by mostly white men. We'll also build tools and shared language to discuss gender identity and expression through a black feminist lens.

Participants will explore sex and gender through the lens of imperialism in U.S. history, analyzing how racial hierarchies have evolved over time through gender norms. We will then consider how it shows up in current LGBTQ organizing models, and what we can do to reduce the harm that toxic gender norms cause us and our communities.

Speakers: Malcolm Shanks

Presentations from Facing Race 2016

Breaking the Cycle of Racial Trauma

The path toward healing from trauma is never linear, even less so when the trauma is the result of the systemic effects of racism and associated violence.Communities of color have historically faced the challenge of healing from racial trauma while working to transform the conditions that feed and create trauma. Using contemporary examples of violence in communities of color, and grounded in a historical context, this panel will explore both experiences with racial trauma and community solutions for moving through the trauma to a place of healing.

Speakers: Jerry Tello, Puni Kalra, Malcolm Shanks, Nicole Davis

Decolonizing Gender: Bringing Empire into the Conversation

National conversations about race & gender often focus on the layered impacts of racism, misogyny, and transphobia. While this is an important discussion, we can also deepen our understanding of how the gender binary operates through white supremacy, and how it is constructed to maintain white cisgender men (and women) at the top of a hierarchy of people. This workshop explores this system through the lens of imperialism in U.S. history, analyzing what imperialism is and how it has evolved over time. We will then consider how it shows up in current LGBTQ organizing models, and what we can do to reduce the harm that white supremacist gender causes us and our communities.

Speakers: Malcolm Shanks, Mickyel Bradford