Facing Race 2020 National Conference Day 3, Part 1

The third and final day of the Facing Race Conference was as powerful as the two previous days if not more so.


Thursday was a jam packed schedule full of panel discussions, workshops, music, and meditation. All three days consisted of that, but there was something in the air today, (albeit virtual air), that was even more electric. Perhaps it was all the collective energy built up from the previous days? Whatever it was, had me galvanized throughout the entire conference. The day began with a set from guest DJ Sizzle Fantastic and our welcome address hosts were the Senior Director of Colorlines magazine, Angela Bronner Helm and Race Forwards’ Philanthropic Project Manager, Michele Kumi Baer.


They opened the conference by discussing what future lies ahead for us via ‘Fusion Organizing’, (See our Day 2 Blog.) And that future would be “non-binary, anti-ableist, anti-colonial, and anti-racist”. This led us directly into our opening plenary, “Forging Multiracial Democracy through Cross Racial Movement Building”, which was split into two parts. The two panels featured representatives from nine racial justice organizations that serve as a coalition to help foster the future mentioned above. According to the panel description “the W. K. Kellogg Foundation has brought nine leading national racial justice organizations into community with each other, a cross-racial coalition collectively known as the Racial Equity Anchor Institutions (the “Anchors”). They are: Advancement Project, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS.”


In the first panel, the featured panelists were: Sabeel Rahman, Marc Morial, Derrick Johnson, and Judith Browne Dianis; in the second: Kevin Allis, Alvin Herring, Charles Kamasaki, and Juliet Choi who served as the moderator for both panel discussions. Part one was a conversation that focused on how fusion organizing has already become a vital tool in increasing civic engagement in systemic change. From the census to the recent election, the combined efforts of the 9 anchors and their communities have made a difference. Nevertheless, the panelists made it clear that although those victories should be honored, it’s important to “be mindful that white supremacy still exists and was voted for” in last week’s election. They also spoke about the fact that the biggest victory so far has been the infrastructure this movement has built and how this is what happens when BIPOC lead; despite everything that happened this year- the COVID19 pandemic, ramped racialized violence against Black and Asian people, and record job loss- we still used our power to vote and strategize for the future. In part two, the discussion turned to the history of Reconstruction in America, and how the first two, (the end of slavery, the end of Jim Crow laws), correlate with the burgeoning of a third, (the end of institutional and systemic racism), and the effects of all three on immigrant communities of color. The panelists mused on what a third Reconstruction should look like. The consensus was that it should be focused on racial justice, equity, and sustainability practices, such as: open borders, living wages, food accessibility, thinking about and considering the BIPOC and the LBGTQIA+ community of all ages and essentially “foraging a new future that we have never seen before.”


The opening plenary was full of so much information, my notebook was bursting with notes. I thought that I might have to switch to another book at some point because there were still two more events left that I needed to cover! My notebook hung in there, however, and I was able to cover a workshop and the closing plenary! I’ll be writing about those and the other workshop I attended this week in part 2 of this blog post. That will be posted in the next few days along with other blog posts about this event from other WinC members! Stay tooned…..


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