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 2012 elections, said Applied Research Center Executive Director Rinku Sen, demonstrated that the allegiances between communities of color are gaining not only strength, but speed–turning back the Three Strikes law and the posse of Republican rape deniers, turning the war on women into a meme and, last but not least, helping Barack Obama win a second term as president.
“Paul Ryan says it was the ‘urban vote’ that did this, not the issues,” Sen said as she opened this year’s Facing Race conference. “We know what the ‘urban vote’ is. But it was not the ‘urban vote,’ it was the majority vote. It was the majority vote that is telling Paul Ryan, in the words of people more polite than I, where he can stick those issues.”
With the election over, said Sen, the publisher of Colorlines, this new majority has the ability to not just win accountability from its elected officials, but to “blowing up” the ladder of racial hierarchy and challenging the notion of racism and tribalism as endemic.
“I don’t think we have to live that way. I don’t think we have to refuse the answer the door when a mother whose children have been swept away by a hurricane knocks on it asking for help,” Sen said. “I don’t think that we have to be sheared down to the thing that is least important about us–our skin color. I think that we can be actual full human beings, and I think that we can change the way that human beings see each other, not by applying some bankrupt concept of ‘color-blindness’ that has no grounding in reality, but by demanding what we really want, which is the taking apart of the racial hierarchy.”
Watch Sen’s speech in full, delivered Nov. 16, above, courtesy of ARC.
Real change requires both intelligence and negotiation from the inside, as well as pushing, pushing and more pushing from the outside. I think each of us has to choose based on an honest (that gets easier with age and/or meditation) assessment of where our talents and temperament will thrive the best, where we will be the most effective as who we really are.
But once you’re in either place, you have to commit yourself, at least long enough to see what’s possible. And you can’t complain about the things you don’t have because you’re not in the other role. So, all those elected officials can’t be moaning about how the radical organizations in their community don’t understand them, or don’t give them enough credit, or don’t get how hard it is to make “real change.” It’s our job to push you past those excuses, even if they’re grounded in reality.
And those who chose the outside can’t worry about how we don’t get mainstream recognition, or mainstream money, or mainstream friends. We’re an opposition movement for a reason. This student had the impression that all of our Civil Rights leaders had been assassinated, and I had to say, not everybody died. Being on the outside can be punishing, but many activists manage it for entire lifetimes. And going inside doesn’t always protect you from harm.
Do it from your own angle (I like the racial justice one) and support other peoples’ angles too (the gay, the poor, the female). If you can’t get to your statehouse, I’m sure City Hall will do.
Image credit: pehab via blog.mkf.org