Connect Blog

A month ago, I got to attend the Facing Race Conference in Atlanta with several colleagues two days after the election and it could not have been timelier. After this long election, many were exhausted, panic-stricken and scared and this was the perfect place to heal and find opportunities to learn and collaborate together. From the beginning to the end, the theme of this space was clear; the importance of collaboration amongst racial justice groups and the need to have conversation. Race Forward: The Center For Racial Justice Innovation advances racial justice through research, media and practice and they host Facing Race, the largest conference for racial justice movement-making, focused on alliance building, issue framing and advancing solutions. This year’s conference had over 50 workshops. The opening plenary, ‘Multiracial Movements for Black Lives’ consisted of Michelle Alexander as the moderator and Alicia Garza, Founder of #BlackLivesMatter, Judith LeBlanc of Native Organizers Alliance, Isa Noyola of Transgender Law Center, Zon Moua of Freedom Inc. & Chris Crass, a longtime leading voice in white communities for racial justice anti-racist organizing. This intersectional conversation was powerful because it highlighted the importance of building deep alliances that are inclusive so all voices are heard.

Alicia Garza, the co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter pointed out the importance of having deep multiracial and multinational alliances that practice real solidarity. Crass was one of the last speakers of the opening plenary and used humor to connect with the audience, showcasing his passion about addressing racism and making sure that white people have conversations with each other about white privilege. This was essential in that it highlighted the importance of white people in racial justice movement work and reminded individuals to not only learn but to hold each other accountable to grow together. By calling out white people and what it means to be a white ally, Crass highlighted the enormity of the work ahead.

Again and again throughout the weekend, we were reminded that open conversations and the need for unity is key to this work because we are stronger when we are united and coordinated. Facing Race is a solid model of holding space to discuss our struggles and the difficulty of the fight for rights. It allows participants to reflect back on what has been done and is being done to build racial and social justice and continuing to fight and grow together.

Divide and Conquer workshop

The conversations in workshops were wide-ranging and touched on topics from implicit bias to power inclusion to racial equity plans, structural racism, systems change, activist philanthropy, mass criminalization and more. These workshops exemplified how critical it is to take the time to listen and learn from different voices and experiences.

Here are my 4 key takeaways:

1. When it comes to implicit bias, we might think that our actions and decisions are not harmful but choices that are invisible have visible consequences. Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Some biases are obviously wrong such as treating equally qualified applicants differently in hiring’s and promotions. Every day biases, like making assumptions on an applicant based on their name, are hard to point out because they’re so personal so it’s up to us to hold each other accountable and be aware of what we do to each other. One phrase I heard at the conference, ‘if we had the ability to make the invisible, visible’ is intriguing in that if we were faced with these unconscious biases, would one recognize they were coming from you? ‘Who’s telling the story and who has the power?’ was a clear theme of this conference and how meaningful and essential the power of narrative is.

2. Conversations about power inclusion and equity are challenging but necessary. As our society becomes more and more fractured, we must not exclude but rather engage all communities to get people in the room that have different experiences, strengths and blind spots. Creating the space for human connection to share and listen to one another’s stories is in itself a healing process and essential in challenging times.

3. Show up in spaces you don’t think are connected to the work to do. Social justice has many layers and as Roxane Gay said during her keynote speech ‘it is simple and complicated in that it’s just common sense.’ We need to continue to discuss the economic realities that make it so that people cannot feed themselves. We tend to just focus on what is oppressing us and we need to discuss how power and privilege play a role in our lives, because having privilege does not mean that we’re not disadvantaged elsewhere.

4. Advocating & supporting each other is crucial. Getting to hear from activists and elders that have been doing this work alongside those that are just starting the work at this conference was so powerful. There’s much to learn from each other and from what’s happened in the past. The intentionality when it comes to bridging the gap, perceived and actual, between communities that seem unlikely to collaborate shows that we all have the power to affect change. Being willing to get past preconceived notions because ‘often it is us that is dividing and conquering’ is something an elder said during one of the workshops that also stood out because it is important to pair intersectionality with intentionality. Find the movements and shakers in each community because we’re not starting from scratch.

Going forward, this experience adds fuel to WhyHunger’s motivation to continue expanding our learning and growth around the issues of race and privilege with ourselves and with our partners.

In order to learn more about Facing Race and Race forward, go to their website here.

Tis’ the season! This time of year we’re all thinking about special gifts that we can give to loved ones, so how about making sure at least one of those is a gift with meaning? Here’s our annual WhyHunger Holiday Gift Guide, a compilation of 10 unique, staff favorites that support the work of WhyHunger and our valued partners to make a positive impact on the issues we care about. There’s something for everyone! This delicately-sculpted sterling silver charm has sheaves of wheat along the sides, framing the handwritten words “Give Thanks” in black enamel. Features a beautifully braided bale and...
On a rainy November evening, WhyHunger co-founder and ambassador Bill Ayres joined scholar, activist and WhyHunger Board Member Jan Poppendieck for a conversation with the Wagner Food Policy Alliance at New York University. Inspired by Jan’s recent report for WhyHunger titled "School Breakfast at Half Century: A Look Back to Look Ahead", the event focused on challenges and successes for food justice activists and advocates. Both Bill and Jan offered a lifetime of experience to share, which was eagerly absorbed by the audience of students and professionals of all ages. Graduate student and Wagner Food Policy Alliance board member Sam Sundius...
The Sioux Tribe and water keepers everywhere have something to celebrate with Obama’s Executive order to halt the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline through the Sioux nation in North Dakota, announced this week. Peaceful demonstrations of resistance by a large mass of people, solidarity from all around the world, and unwavering commitment to the action were significant to this announcement. WhyHunger was a signatory on a letter to President Obama that was delivered last Friday – one of many letters that flooded the Oval office.  So, a celebration is in order and victory can be declared. However, this has...
Amanda Staples and Matt McFarland seem to have a secret garden. Except that, unlike in the famous story, their garden has only three tall, vine-covered walls surrounding it. The fourth side opens to the street, and Amanda sells her produce there each Wednesday in addition to providing for a ten-family CSA. The lot had been abandoned and overgrown for thirty years until Staples and McFarland, following a dream they’d had of owning and operating a small farm in the city, bought the lot and the house behind the lot’s back wall. For a year they cleared the land and prepared the...

Stand with Standing Rock

BECCA HAYDU , NOVEMBER 17, 2016 tagged as standing rock DAPL Solidarity
*The above photo was taken by Charlotte Dillon. WhyHunger stands in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. The fight for clean water and environmental justice is inextricably linked to the struggles to end hunger and poverty worldwide. A Brief Timeline After the town of Bismark, ND rejected...

more ►

This is a repost of an article originally written and published by GRAIN. Could your pension be pushing small farmers off their land? Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind...

more ►

Like so many of our fellow Americans, the staff at WhyHunger gathered this morning to reflect on a moment in our collective history that has the power to reshape our country and our future. We feel a deep sense of urgency to support and lift up our grassroots partners who...

more ►

The below statement was drafted by Maria Luisa Mendonça of the Justice and Human Rights Network (Rede Social). WhyHunger stands in solidarity with our partner, Landless Workers Movement (MST), and has signed this letter along with the National Family Farm Coalition, Grassroots International, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and others. Please read below...

more ►

WhyHunger's 2015 Annual Report has just been released! This report is full of our achievements and impacts over the past year as we continue to build a broad-based social movement with our grassroots partners to ensure that everyone has a right to nutritious food. In this report you’ll find updates...

more ►

About

Welcome to WhyHunger’s Connect Blog featuring stories, projects and articles from the community-based organizations, organizers and social movements that are building the movement for food justice.

Sign Up

Stay in the know with the most up-to-date information about our work and initiatives by signing up for WhyHunger’s monthly newsletters

Enter your email below to receive a bi-weekly blog recap in your inbox.



Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Powered by FeedBurner