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

Yirssi Bergman

Research Associate | Race Forward

Yirssi is an Afro-Dominican, queer, multicultural researcher, and writer. Currently, she’s at Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, and was previously at Planned Parenthood of North Florida, and the ACLU.

On the writing front she has contributed to Colorlines, CNN iReport, and The Huffington Post, among others. She’s a VONA alum, and has won writing awards from the Michigan Press Association, and the American Model United Nations.

Born in the Dominican Republic, and raised in Spain, in her free time you will find her working out, reading, or planning her next traveling adventure.

Presentations from Facing Race 2020

Facing Reparations

This moment, in which the entire world is standing up to declare that Black Lives DO Matter, is ripe with possibility. It’s time to organize and operationalize demands originating from the long legacy of struggles for reparations by Black people and support the work of Movement for Black Lives, N’COBRA, NAARC and innumerable local community organizers who have been leading this work in their neighborhoods. 

During this session, we will define reparations, discuss how reparations are gaining momentum in various localities across the US such as Chicago, Evanston, California, and Pennsylvania as a viable redressal of state violence, how regional and federal reparations demands intersect with one another, and explore how people can advance the fight for reparations in their local jurisdictions.


Moderator(s): Shweta Moorthy, Yirssi Bergman Speakers: Kamm Howard, Kelli Dillon, Chris Rabb, Aislinn Pulley

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

United States of Terror: How The State Has Succeeded At Terrorizing Immigrant Communities And What We Can Do

“You should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried. No population is off the table.” — Thomas Homan, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 2017.

The current administration has made it clear that its main goal is to terrorize immigrants, whether documented or undocumented. The numerous policies and actions taken in the last two years support this goal: whether by arresting 171% more non-criminal undocumented immigrants in 2017 than in 2016, implementing a Muslim Ban where 77% of those flagged for secondary inspection were lawful permanent residents, rescinding TPS for El Salvador and Haiti, starting an effort to comb through old naturalization applications for fraud, and even by questioning the citizenship of people who have lived for decades as native-born US citizens.

All of these actions have had an unprecedented effect: heightened levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD and trauma for the different immigrant communities affected. These are communities that oftentimes struggle to access health services in general, but mental health services in particular. How do we fight the policies enacted by the current administration, while maintaining our mental health? How do we fight the stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illness within our own communities? How do we establish trauma-informed systems of care? This panel will explore the actions that the administration has taken, the effects that are felt in our communities, and share how we can fight these effects.

Speakers: Yirssi Bergman