By Arturo R. García
By Tope Fadiran
Our colleagues at Race Forward, the racial justice organization that publishes Colorlines, was one of the organizations that pushed back against Starbucks’ hastily conceived “Race Together” initiative in March 2015.
At the time, Executive Director Rinku Sen penned an open letter calling for a national conversation on race that centers systemic rather than individual forms of racism. Race Forward is now building on this statement with “What is Systemic Racism?,” a new 8-part video series.
The videos star, and were written by, Jay Smooth of Ill Doctrine fame, who does double duty as Race Forward’s Video and Multimedia Producer. In a minute or less, each video introduces a different facet of systemic racism in the United States: mass incarceration, housing discrimination, the race and gender wealth gap, infant mortality, and more.
As promised, here are some of the images posted by the presenters:
From the program description:
This year and next we will celebrate the anniversaries of major racial justice victories like the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. In this plenary, big thinkers will reflect on trends and strategies for the next half century.
With the Voting Rights Act itself under political assault, the conference’s final plenary feels more timely — and more needed — than ever. The discussion will feature:
- Ian Haney Lopez is a senior fellow at Demos, a progessive public policy organization. He is also the author of three books analyzing the ongoing effects of racism on the U.S. since the Civil Rights Era. His latest work, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, was published earlier this year.
- Van Jones was seen most recently as a co-host of CNN’s political roundtable show Crossfire. But for the past three years, he has led the progressive political group Rebuild The Dream, which he also founded. He was also the green jobs advisor for President Barack Obama’s administration and has written two New York Times best-sellers, Rebuild The Dream and The Green Collar Economy.
- Rinku Sen is both the publisher of Colorlines and the president of the Race Forward conference. Early on in her career, Ms. Magazine listed her as one of 21 feminists to watch in the 21st century, and in 2008, Utne Reader called her one of 50 visionaries changing the world. She has also published two books: Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy and The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization.
The conference’s final plenary begins at 4:30 p.m. EST, and can be seen below.
The second day of Facing Race kicks off at 10:15 a.m. EST with a plenary session describing current activist movements in the American South, a region many people still feel stopped being a hotbed of civic organizing during the Civil Rights Movement. The three speakers featured in this session have played active roles in forging a new legacy of activism for the region:
- Bishop Tonyia Rawls, founder and executive director of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, as well as a member of the governing board for the North Carolina Council of Churches and the founding pastor of the Freedom Temple Ministries and Sacred Souls Community Church. The Freedom Center launched a legal center focusing on the LGBTQ communities and an employment program helping the southern trans community — both the first of their kind for the region.
- Cristina Tzintzún is the executive director of Workers Defense Project/Proyecto Defensa Laboral. Besides being featured in national news outlets like USA Today and the New York Times, Tzintzún’s work has led to her winning the national Trabajadora Community Leader award from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Last year, Southern Living Magazine named her one of its Heroes of the New South.
- Chokwe Antar Lumumba played a vital role in the development of the People’s Platform in Jackson, SC, where his father, longtime activist Chokwe Lumumba, was elected mayor in 2013 on a platform emphasizing community development and the elimination of the gender-based pay gap. Antar Lumumba’s drive to help his community was also instilled in him by his mother, Nubia Lumumba, and he went on to become the managing partner at Lumumba & Associates, a law firm following those principles, as well as a member of the leadership team for Free Christian Church Ministries.
From the program description:
For the many of us- people of color, immigrants communities, LGBTQ people – who populate and call this region home, we experience and understand “the South” as not only the place where race, power, and revolution is best understood but also where history and legacies give way to 21st century innovation for our movements. Our dynamic plenary speakers, spanning the Southern region, will offer their insight on some of the challenges and opportunities facing the region and our movements to achieve racial justice and equity. From the continuing legacy of youth organizing and direct action in Florida; the role of faith in building inclusive communities and organizing for social change in NC; the realities of shifting demographics and the opportunities for worker organizing in Texas; and implementing community centered methods to build real economic, political and community power in Jackson this plenary will highlight how the South continues to build on its history and towards freedom.
The plenary, as posted online, can be seen in the livestream below.