The second day of Facing Race was just as riveting as the first.
It began with music by Dj KK47 then a welcome address by our Wednesday hosts Shauna Davie and Nikko Viquiera of Race Forward. They gave us a quick overview of how to navigate the Facing Race conference site and where to find all the conference perks. Perks such as a virtual swag bag, access to the wellness center sponsored by the Acorn Center, and the “Race Flix” all day film festival. After the overview, we were serenaded by Brooklyn, NY musician and activist Eden Sean. Eden shared a newly released song called ‘Love is the Only Thing that Matters’.
Shauna and Nikko continued their welcome address by going over Race Forward’s new Campaign: #Bannedwords. As per the Race Forward website:
“On September 22, 2020, President Donald Trump issued
Executive Order 13950, titled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” which bans racial justice work in federal government. This ban extends to all federal employees, agencies, contracts, and grants. In particular, the Order directs federal employees to look for certain keywords and to take action to end any programs, grants, or contracts that include them and punish any employees who use them. The #BannedWords include: “systemic racism”, “unconscious bias”, “critical race theory”, “white privilege”, “positionality”, “racial humility”, and “intersectionality.” #Bannedwords calls for several items including a a social media campaign urging people to “Use the hashtag #BannedWords to tell your stories in social media about how you use these banned words to fight racism.” The hope is that it will encourage the incoming Biden administration to resend this Executive Order within the first 100 days of being in office.
The first plenary of the conference took place immediately after the welcome address. It was an engaging panel discussion hosted by the Momentum podcast’s Hiba Elyass and Chevon Drew. The topic was “Culture in the time of Uprising” and it featured panelists: Layshia Claredon, Cristina Jimenèz Moreta and Crystal Echo Hawk. The conversation revolved around how one takes their culture and applies it to community, engagement, empowerment and intersectionality. The panelists spoke of how the art of cultural storytelling can change people’s lives by teaching them how to use stories as a means to advocate for themselves; in addition to how one can disrupt assimilation and squelching performative activism among businesses.
The panel was a great segway into the next section of the plenary, which featured keynote speaker Rev. Dr. William Barber II. The Reverend gave a stirring speech that gave historical context to the systemic and institutionalized racism and classism that has affected our political climate over the past 12 years up until now. One of the most powerful things that he mentioned was that the key to change is to engage with organizations that focus on both antiracist and antipoverty practices. Moreover, he stated that “Fusion Organizing” was highly important in order to get these changes implemented. Meaning that “we can have separate silos of organizations but it’s important to have those silos interact.”Overall the welcome address and the Wednesday plenary was packed with information, emotion, and fortitude. I also took an afternoon workshop, “What Did Soul Train Teach Us: Synergetic & Somatic Movement Building for BIPOC Liberation” by Raven Dickerson and Sanu Dieng. I’ll be writing an entirely separate blog post for this one. It was so beautiful that it really should have it’s own spotlight! This Thursday is the last day of the conference, I’m sure that it’s going to be amazing and am looking forward to sharing that with you all!