Community Perspectives

Webinar Recap - Advocacy in Grantmaking - working together for impact

Originally aired November 9, 2016.

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Facing Race Reflections

"It was 3:43am on Wednesday, November 9 when I awoke from a dead sleep and looked at my phone to see the election results. As I tried to clear my eyes and refresh the page, a sense of sheer devastation washed over me. When I woke up again a few hours later, I looked to confirm the results. How could this possibly happen? What is going to happen in the world now? At work I felt a sense of relief to be able to share these fears and feelings of despair. Then came a small sense of reassurance. I am so privileged to be surrounded by like-minded, progressive, forward thinking, deeply concerned colleagues who are committed to serving the world through social justice and by putting our faith in collective action through our work with the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.

Immediately upon arriving to Race Forward’s Facing Race conference, the energy in the air was palpable with more than 2,000 people present. ..."

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Facing Race Reflections

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Once in Atlanta, you couldn’t help but feel all the amazing energy from the people attending the conference. At the opening ceremony I was able to connect with the numerous folks from Chicago who had made the trip to attend the conference which buoyed my spirits!  It is always great to connect with Chicago folks outside of Chicago (even if we struggle to connect when in Chicago). Connecting with the EPIP delegation for dinner on Friday evening was one highlight of the conference. While many of us had never met, we were able to create a sense of community, share our insights and experiences, and really begin to develop ways we could stay connected, support each other and work together after the conference.

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Facing Race Reflection

The question that remains with me from the Facing Race 2016 conference is the one posed by Race Forward executive director Rinku Sen at the opening plenary - a question first posed by Dr Martin Luther King’s speechwriter, Vincent Harding: Is America Possible?

Even before I had heard that question, its multiple dimensions and many possible answers had put themselves front and center during a pre-conference bus tour of Atlanta - an introduction to social and racial justice organizations operating across the four corners of the city. This was on Thursday, November 10, barely two days after Donald Trump's election to presidency. In my conversations with folks - from Minnesota, northern California, New York, Kentucky, and (of course) Atlanta - who I talked to over the day, we shared a set of emotions that ranged from fear to fury to uncertainty about the prospect of life and policies in Trump's America. But the main theme I sensed throughout the day - and this would hold constant over the entire conference - was an urgency to action purposefully, alongside a diverse coalition of allies. 

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Facing Race Reflection: Conferencing Redefined — How Facing Race 2016 Reaffirmed Our Roles in the Post-Election Racial Justice Movement

Exactly two weeks ago, I used packing and preparing for my trip to the 2016 Facing Race National Conference as a distraction for what quickly became reality the night of November 8, 2016. While physically packing my clothing, toiletries and other items that I would need to ensure I was well “suited” for this conference, I also packed up my emotional response to the election results and mentally put them in to my luggage to bring along to the conference. As I zipped up my luggage, I said to myself, “Katie, you are better off processing these feelings in Atlanta.”

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Facing Race Reflection

“These are times that try our souls.” – Facing Race 2016 

Reflections on disconnection, awakening and action. 

 ...I didn’t know what to expect in Atlanta, but something about the moment, even beyond the election – just felt like it was the place I needed to be. While I didn’t know exactly what my soul yearned for, I knew that I needed to change my environment and be in the presence of critical thinkers, advocates, and racial justice progressives. I had trouble putting words to my thoughts, but exhaustion was one thing I could tangibly notice within myself. Before the conference began, I recognized that I had a foggy mind – present, yet disconnected to real and raw emotions.

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Facing Race Reflection

I’d like to thank Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy for giving me the opportunity to attend this wonderful conference, and allowing me to connect with so many individuals across the nation that are interested in making a change. This conference remarkably fell at the right time, and served as a place of solace for individuals who were stunned and disturbed by the United States of America Presidential Election.

The 2016 Facing Race conference defined itself as “A unique collaborative space for racial justice movement making, Facing Race is the largest multiracial, inter-generational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders.” A deep exploration of sessions and speakers.

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Facing Race Reflection

On the first morning of the Facing Race conference this year in Atlanta, I was washing my hands in the bathroom when a tall black man walked in. Startled, he looked at me in the mirror and asked, “Uh, am I in the right place?” “Yeah,” I responded, “it’s all-gender.”

An exploration of what a makes a good conference and a call to love in work and action. 

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Facing Race Reflection: What Ties Us Together

With the 2016 Presidential election now over, I’ve entered a process of much needed reflection. For me, I’ve blocked the media and rhetoric of political pundits out of my thoughts and now look to the future – one that I will impact positively. The campaign season is usually a time where people divide and organize themselves in an us vs. them fashion. We become so focused on why MY candidate is better than yours and what MY candidate will do for the people that we estrange ourselves from those who may not share our views. I am not criticizing these practices, as it is natural to the political process and how people ultimately make voting decisions. My thought is simply that campaign politics, for me has become more of a system of disunion than one where we unite.

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Facing Race Reflection: Being an Ambassador of Love

America hates us. That’s what the election results told me and millions of immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ and people of color, especially my black and brown brothers and sisters. It said we do not belong in America, and it said it loud and clear. Only two days after the elections 2,300 people from around the nation came together, still mourning, outraged, scared, upset, but to realize and affirm that folks fighting for racial justice - we are not alone. We came together in Atlanta, Georgia for Facing Race - a national conference presented by Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. A unique collaborative space for racial justice movement-making, Facing Race is the largest multiracial, inter-generational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders.

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