Date: Wed May 25, 2005 5:30 pm
Subject: Reportback on White Privilege Conf.
This is a report that Catalyst Project sent out about the White Privilege Conference as we wanted to share our experience with the people who we work with. I wanted to share it with you all as well as so many of you play or have played leadership roles in the conf. We learned a lot from the experience are a very grateful to Eddie Moore, Jr. for his work to make the conf happen.
Catalyst Project Report From the Field
by Chris Crass
**White Privilege Conference**
April 27th-April 30th, 2005
Overview of Event: The WPC is in it's 6th year. Eddie Moore, Jr. an African American professor in Pella, Iowa has been the visionary leader and strategic organizer of the conference throughout it's development. He has a strong multiracial network of activists, organizers, intellectuals, students, teachers and social workers who also provide political leadership in the conference. In general the leadership ranges from liberal left to radical left.
The constituency that it reaches is majority white, with strong participation/leadership from people of color. This year there were 600+ people and I would say that roughly 450 of them were white. The largest group of folks there are teachers - preschool through gradschool, public and private, in the classroom and in the administration, guidance counselors and principles and a solid number of multicultural center directors and staff. There are also a lot of social workers, non-profit service providers and students. Over the last few years the WPC has developed a Youth Institute for high school students. With a younger adult left/radical youth organizing leadership team and a strong incorporation of culture, the youth met in their own workshops and discussions mixed in with the broader conference from time to time as well. There are also a lot of college students.
Goals of the conference from what we understood: to move analysis from personal/individual experiences and examples of racism to institutional and historical white supremacy. To bring a race consciousness to the work that people are doing and from that consciousness shift thinking about the problems them experience and the solutions them imagine. To bring white educators and social service providers to a space lead by people of color and white anti-racists to help recenter the dialogue on race and move it in a progressive/left direction.
Program Overview: lots of workshops and presentations aimed at educators ranging from racism and childhood developmental psychology to making your class safe for LGBT students to teaching about white privilege at a mostly white school. There were also sessions on how to deal with white privilege in the queer community specifically in the struggle over queer marriage and queer civil rights, there were several sessions led by men on how men can support women's leadership and challenge patriarchy, and relationship building between women of color and white women.
Catalyst Project role overview: This was the first year that we participating in the conference. We met Eddie Moore, Jr and many of people who play leadership roles as presenters, at an anti-racism conference in New Orleans several years back. We were excited to see what was happening in Pella, Iowa. We talked with several of our allies who had either been to past WPC or were involved in the organizing crew and we asked for advice on what to do out there. We were encouraged to focus on moving theory to practice and highlighting leadership from younger generation anti-racists.
In addition to leading a workshop and a panel, we also helped facilitate a white anti-racist caucus session and we were asked to present on our work at the White Anti-Racist Summit. Both the caucuses and the summit were organized by the White Anti-Racist Community Action Network with Jeff Hitchcock and Jorge Zeballos playing leadership roles.
Our goals for the conference were:
1. To connect anti-racism to a larger left/radical analysis of capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, the gender binary system and heterosexism.
2. To focus on putting theory into practice in a methodology that would encourage praxis - meaning to talk about putting theory into practice, reflecting on practice to draw out analysis and incorporate that into an advanced level of theory and to continue that process over and over again.
3. To support younger generation activists in their development as leaders and highlight concrete activism and organizing going on around the country.
4. To help folks network and develop stronger sense of overall 'movement'.
5. We also had a specific goal of promoting Left Turn magazine, selling copies of it and highlighting it as a crucial movement resource.
Here is the program work that we did:
**Towards Collective Liberation: the importance of anti-racist organizing
What can white people do with their analysis of institutional racism? What are some beginning steps to put anti-racist theory into practice? These are the core questions that this workshop will be addressing. The workshop is based in the belief that anti-racism is a catalyst for building powerful movements for justice in this country. From that belief Clare Bayard and Ingrid Chapman of the Catalyst Project will lead the group through participatory exercises and discussions on anti-racist organizing.
Workshop leaders: Ingrid Chapman and Clare Bayard of the Catalyst Project
Ingrid Chapman is a young community organizer, direct action activist and core member of Catalyst Project. Her roots within radical left organizing began as leading member of the global justice movement in the late '90s. She was a founding member of "Active Solidarity; a collective for anti-racism education" and has led workshops with thousands of activists around the country. The last 2 years she has worked with Oakland residents in struggles for tenant rights, community safety and alternatives to incarceration and policing.
Clare Bayard is a core member, organizer and trainer with the Catalyst Project. She has played a lead role in forging alliances between mostly white global justice and anti-war groups with immigrant-led economic and racial justice organizations. As a member of Catalyst, Clare serves on the national committee of the War Resisters League supporting counter-military recruitment organizing. She is also a member of the Heads Up Collective, an anti-imperialist group in San Francisco.
**Building Movement, Building Power: a panel discussion on lessons from younger generation anti-racists activists
We want justice. We want to build healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities that affirm life. We believe that white supremacy shapes the society that we currently live in and that white privilege has consistently undermined multiracial movements for justice. We believe that anti-racism is key to unlocking the power of our communities and our movements to build a free society.
This panel discussion with younger generation anti-racist activists will focus on drawing out lessons from their experience. They will address the following questions: What are the goals you're working to meet both long-term and short-term? How have you put anti-racism into practice? What is your strategic orientation to your work? What are key lessons to share? What advice do you have other people who are trying to put anti-racism into practice?
Panelists: Cindy Breunig, Max Toth and Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward
Moderator: Chris Crass of the Catalyst Project
Cindy Breunig grew up in a farmhouse outside of Cross Plains, Wisconsin. She got involved in social justice organizing in Washington DC focusing on student activism, literacy work and Central American solidarity work. Her path to consciousness and action around institutionalized racism was profoundly shaped by relationships to families she worked with in D.C. for four years as a literacy teacher. Since coming back to Wisconsin she has worked to educate and organize other white people in her circle of influence, and support local work for racial justice. She is a Medical Spanish Interpreter.
Max Toth works for United Students Against Sweatshops as the National Organizer for Campus and Community Solidarity. Over the past four years Max has worked with several anti-racist/racial and economic justice focused efforts. Max helped coordinate a 76-member Childcare Collective, which provides free childcare for low-income Women of Color organizers in grassroots organizations. He was a founding member of Heads Up, a grassroots anti-racist anti-war collective that formed by members of the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop (http://www.cwsworkshop.org/) immediately after 9/11. HeadsUp has done political education work ranging from a political history of Palestine to the use of electoral work for building power in low-income communities of color. He was the Managing Editor of the Winning Wages Media Kit (http://www.spinproject.org/resources/winningwages.php3), a compilation of winning media strategies for living wage campaigns across the country. He holds a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from Mills College, Oakland; this means he’ll never be closeted as an FTM transgendered person.
Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward grew up in a suburb outside Boston, Massachusetts and has been most involved in student activism and anti-racism/anti-oppression efforts at her college in Ithaca, New York, and through various Unitarian Universalist communities. She currently serves as one of the Youth Programs Specialists for the Unitarian Universalist Association (the administrative headquarters for a liberal religious denomination), where she coordinates social justice resources and conferences for youth ages 14-20. Betty Jeanne's key issues of involvement have included struggling against student apathy and building community and solidarity among college activist communities, as well as promoting multicultural education reform as a social justice issue among high school, unschooled and homeschooled youth. Betty Jeanne is a trainer with the National Coalition Building Institute, a nonprofit leadership training organization based in Washington, D.C.
Reflections: We accomplished our goals for the most part. We participated in a white anti-racist summit with twenty other people, connecting with our comrades in the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (CARW) in Seattle who are doing fantastic work and the White Anti-Racism Community Action Network folks from the NorthEast. We got to learn more about queer organizing in Kentucky from our new comrades Sara Todd and Charlotte Albrecht, spend time with our Unitarian Universalist comrades Kirsten, Topher, Betty Jeanne and Joanna, connect with our panelists and share time with mentors and allies like Paul Kivel, Victor Lee Lewis, Catherine Wong, Teresa Martyny, Jesse Villalobos, Diane Finnerty and Tim Wise.
It was a powerful experience to watch Eddie Moore, Jr. in action. He has successfully organized the mostly/almost entirely white community of Pella to support the conference (given that it a big money maker for the town with hotels and restaurants) and he is bringing together a large network of people in various levels of institutional power and moving them in a progressive direction. Given that the conference is an annual event it also creates greater opportunity to expand, deepen and build. It does need much higher involvement and leadership from grassroots activists and organizers and some in the organizing crew do want to see that happen. Overall, it's a strategic place to connect with folks and move politics. We deeply thank our panelists who put in a lot to develop analysis and lessons based in their study and practice and took risks stepping up in leadership sharing that with others. It was also great to be out there with two of the youth from the white anti-racist youth training program in the Bay Area, Y-Step. In the end, the part that I'm leaving with is the potential to keep building.
For more info on the conference check out: whiteprivilegeconference.com
C A T A L Y S T P R O J E C T
a center for political education and movement building
522 Valencia St. #2
San Francisco, CA 94110