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

Tracy Van Slyke

Chief Strategy Officer | Pop Culture Collaborative
Pronouns: she/her
Tracy is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Pop Culture Collaborative. Through her work at the intersection of media and movement building for the last 17 years, Tracy has worked with content producers, social justice and philanthropic leaders to help them advance profound storytelling and audiences experiences for social change. Previously, she was the director of the Culture Lab, which helped social justice leaders advance pop culture strategies and storytelling to create a just and equitable world. Tracy was also previously the co-director of the New Bottom Line, director of The Media Consortium and publisher of In These Times.

Presentations from Facing Race 2022

The Narrative Coup: How the Right is Using the Tools of Fandom to Digitally Hack Our Democracy

In the wake of QAnon, insurgent movements are embracing its model — building passionate extremist communities using the symbols and communication styles of pop-culture fandoms. When these viral techniques are combined with the infinite reach of digital platforms, the result is a dangerous new approach to hacking our democracy, consolidating influence and advancing the surging cultural power of white nationalism. From the parents’ rights movement to the pro-authoritarians, these toxic digital narrative ecosystems are activated by content created by influencers and right-wing media; held and spread by communities that criss-cross platforms and demographics; and ultimately ultimately forge the identities, beliefs and behaviors of millions.

Join Western State Center’s Eric Ward, Pop Culture Collaborative’s Tracy Van Slyke and Institute for the Future’s Jeff Yang as they share groundbreaking research and cultural analysis on how these “digital narrative ecosystems” are being created, evolved and expanded; discuss the implications of their growing role in American racialization and politics; and share insights on how these same fandom-based narrative change strategies could inspire millions of people to resist, neutralize, and supplant the white nationalist movement with the yearning for a just and pluralist society.

Speakers: Tracy Van Slyke, Jeff Yang, Eric Ward

Transforming our Narrative Waters through Narrative Systems Design

Achieving a racially just future in which the majority of people are engaged in building pluralist culture requires more than just changing a few narratives — it requires transforming the toxic narrative oceans in which we swim. But how can we transform our narrative waters so that hundreds of millions of people can change their beliefs and behaviors in order to engage in the hard, delicate work of belonging together? And how can we design for impactful narrative strategy at scale across a broad range of sectors, issues, and stakeholders?

The Pop Culture Collaborative approaches these questions through narrative systems design. To transform the narrative landscape in America around people of color, immigrants, refugees, Muslims, and Indigenous peoples—especially those who are women, queer, trans, nonbinary, and/or disabled — we focus on bolstering the infrastructure and impact of the pop culture for social change field. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, the Collaborative team will share about narrative systems design — the creative, powerful, and responsive narrative framework and strategy at the heart of our grantmaking and field organizing. Participants will learn about the six components that work in synchronized relationship: a culture change goal, mental models, narrative archetypes, specific stories, inciting experiences, and desired behavioral norms.

Through storytelling and interactive exercises, the Collaborative will help attendees analyze past examples of cultural change processes, and learn about the building blocks of a narrative system — so that they can utilize narrative systems design to advance racial justice values and issues in their own work.

Speakers: Bridgit Antoinette Evans, Tracy Van Slyke, Nayantara Sen

Presentations from Facing Race 2016

How to Use your TV: Using Small Screens to Move Racial Justice

Calling all TV addicts — this is the workshop for you. Today’s television industry has more room for the stories of racial justice than ever before. This double panel presentation will focus on strategies for making the small screen work for racial justice by engaging writers’ rooms, taking advantage of reality TV opportunities, by hosting watch parties or generating social media commentary on TV content that applies to communities. We will include a special focus on the Netflix documentary “13th,” featuring activists from the documentary and a Skype appearance by its director, Ava DuVernay.

Speakers: Van Jones, Malkia Cyril, Bridgit Antoinette Evans, Brandon Andrews, Tracy Van Slyke, Sharda Sekaran

Presentations from Facing Race 2012

Consumer Based Strategies for Advancing Racial Justice

The use of consumer boycotts and providing alternatives (?buy-cotts?) are signature strategies of racial justice projects of the past. This workshop will highlight current campaigns and initiatives that employ these strategies in advancing racial justice in the present. How are these current-day examples similar to and/or improve upon the strategies of the past? The workshop will tease out lessons from these initiatives and how they can instructive in crafting racial justice strategies in the age of globalization.

Speakers: Lisa Castellanos, Tracy Van Slyke, Jamal Watkins