Undoing Racism Austin is organizing political spaces where we can come together to build conscious practices rooted in a shared understanding, language and a collective plan of action to undo racism in our community.
2014 Strategies to Implement and Achieve Goals
- Organize Six Anti-Racism Trainings
After organizing a large training in November 2013 that was well-received, Undoing Racism Austin’s plan is to organize six trainings with the participation of one or two of the URA collective members, a small group of previous workshop participants and organizations and institutions with an interest in this training. Child care is provided so that parents can attend and have their children nearby and so that all participants can be connected to the daily lives of community members. Participants are not required to pay so that people of all income levels are able to attend. (Attendees able to make a financial contribution are able to do so.)
On February 21-22 URA, working in collaboration with Liveable City (which has a focus on affordability and city policy), held its second Undoing Racism training. Thirty-five people attended the training including three candidates for Mayor and City Council, current council staff as well as participants from the City’s Health and Human Services Department, Watershed Protection, and Law Departments. (See Appendix B for a list of organizations represented at the November 2013 and February 2014 workshops.)
URA is also working with AISD staff to organize a training in June 9-10 for principals, educators, students, juvenile-justice advocates, social workers, and community members. URA is working with Seton Medical Center to organize a training in July 19-21 with a focus on health care, including mental health services. URA is working with the Community Advocacy Network for a training of civic leaders in December. URA envisions holding additional workshops on criminal justice, food system, higher education, and a training in Spanish called the Latino Challenge, also sponsored by the People’s Institute.
Undoing Racism Austin works with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond to provide the trainings and their extraordinary multi-racial teams of professional trainers. Their workshops focus on understating what racism is, where it comes from, how it functions, why it persists and how it can be undone. Their workshops use a systemic approach that emphasizes learning from history, developing leadership, maintaining accountability to communities, creating networks, undoing internalized racial oppression and understanding the role of organizational gate-keeping as a mechanism for perpetuating racism. (See http://pisab.org for more on their principles and programs.)
Another resource for URA’s efforts to address racial inequities in Texas is the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparity (CEDD), which was created in 2011 to help address disproportionality and disparities in Texas health and human services. The Center offers a strong data-driven, organizing approach to changing systems, which URA builds upon for our work in Austin. The Center also works with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and so shares a common perspective with URA activists.
- Host regular networking space: to share our work, deepen our practice and to build community and vision together.
URA is also hosting monthly networking meetings for training participants and their allies to share food, strategies, and inspiration. More than twenty people showed up for each of the monthly meetings. We have organizing updates from various groups including the Undoing Racism Collective. We usually spend a portion of our time breaking out into People of Color and White caucuses to provide safe spaces to explore the way people are affected by internalized racial inferiority or internalized racial superiority.
- URA Web Resource and On-line Calendar
URA has built a website with a range of online resources for URA information, a community calendar, educational resources, exercises and more to support people in deepening their understanding of how racism works, its history and what people can do about it. The website amplifies the work of local groups such as Austin’s Beloved Community and the Texas Civil Rights Project.
- Initiate Organizing Process for a Racial Equity Change Ex-Change at City Hall
URA plans to hold a community-wide meet-up to initiate the formation of a comprehensive strategy for Austin to achieve racial justice in Austin.
Undoing Racism Austin is looking at how other cities are addressing systemic racism. Many of these efforts trace back to the legacy of the Peoples Institutes work.
In Seattle the community organized and created Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) to achieve racial equity in the City of Seattle’s services, operations, and the broader community. Since 2009, the City of Seattle has had an explicit commitment and plan to achieve racial equity. A report available for review (http://www.seattle.gov/rsji/) illustrates what can be achieved when a city government consciously addresses racial inequity. Some elements of change in Seattle include:
- The Racial and Social Justice Community Roundtable consists of community organizations and public institutions that have joined together to end racial inequities in education and address institutional racism within their own organizations.
- The City has doubled its contracts with women and minority-owned businesses in non-construction goods and services.
- City staff dramatically expanded engagement with historically underrepresented communities.
- All City departments now provide essential translation and interpretation services for non-English speaking customers, strengthening immigrant and refugee communities’ access to government.
- The City’s Neighborhood Matching Fund has awarded over $1 million in grants to community efforts that address race and social justice at the neighborhood level.
- Across City government, more than three quarters of the workforce have received training on ending institutional racism. Departments are using a Racial Equity Toolkit to conduct comprehensive reviews of their programs, policies and budgets, resulting in hundreds of changes to increase racial equity.