Undoing Racism Austin is a collaborative effort among people and groups from diverse segments of the Austin who are organizing for racial justice and equity. We are artists, lawyers, organizers, educators, neighborhood activists and more.
Individually we have work on a wide range of issues in Austin over many years and we believe we could increase our power and effectiveness if we took on what one of us calls The Elephant in the Room.
Everyday another story is played out in the news and in our lives that is connected to racism. Racism is imbedded into the fabric of society so deeply that it often becomes invisible, hiding in our unconscious habits of everyday interaction. It operates within our our city government and all of the city, county and state agencies and well as every other institution in our lives. And it impacts our communities differently, based primarily on race. The experience of African Americans and those of European Descent aka white people can play out radically differently everyday, with each interaction benefiting those with the most privilege.
Who Is the Elephant? – Racism in all its conscious and unconscious forms.
When we can begin to talk about it racism and make it conscious and racism visible, we can interrupt and change those patterns and polices of oppression that are creating disproportionality and disparity.
All Undoing Racism Austin project decisions are made by a group of predominantly people-of-color volunteers, including six Latinos, two African-Americans, and three white people. These are our biographies:
Eva Hernandez-Simmons is a Regional Organizing Director for the Sierra Club, working with organizers across several states to build teams of volunteer leaders to confront the dominance of coal and oil, and pave the way for clean energy. She is a member of the Sierra Club diversity team, working to make the environmental movement diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Eva makes a home with her husband Tyson and their son in East Austin.
Dr. Tane Ward is an educator and organizer in Austin Texas. He is the executive director of the Equilibrio Norte, and recently completed his PhD in Activist Anthropology and Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in East Austin with his wife, daughter and extended family. (NO MENTION OF SIERRA CLUB???)
Marisa Perales is an attorney in Austin, Texas, advocating on behalf of communities, conservation groups, and local governments to fight pollution, protect natural resources, and create a healthy environment. She serves on the Environmental Board of the City of Austin and on the Board of Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund.
Kellee Coleman is a life-long Austin resident, mother of three school-aged children, a member of Mamas of Color Rising, a member of Incite! Women and Transpeople of Color against Violence, and is a coordinator of Vibrant Woman/Mama Sana prenatal clinic. She works to bring culturally specific prenatal care, birth companions, midwifery services and nutrition services to low-income Black and Latina women in the Austin Area. She is a student at St. Edwards University.
Carmen Llanes Pulido is a community organizer and native of Austin, Texas. She works for Marathon Kids engaging parents and teachers at Austin elementary schools to build healthier campuses. She served on Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which drew maps for Austin’s first geographically representative city council. Carmen also volunteers with PODER in East Austin, Cooperation Texas, Urban Roots, Planned Parenthood and the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity.
Charlotte Caples is the senior consultant at Charlotte S. Caples Consulting developing leaders and organizations through a transformational process of change to achieve equity. She is in the final stages of a doctorate of philosophy degree specializing in Organizational Psychology. Her research explores racial equity in institutions which serve youth and young adults. Over the past 17 years, she has served as a mental health professional in community mental health and juvenile justice settings developing, implementing, managing and evaluating programs. Ms. Caples serves with many community antiracism organizing groups and serves as coordinator for the national network of antiracism organizers, Collaboration on Antiracism Learnings, Legacies and Leadership Development (CALLL). She is personally committed to build shoulders for the next generation to stand.
Damaris Nicholson works for the Texas Department of Child Protective Services and serves on the City of Austin Police Monitor Citizen Review Panel. She was recently the equity specialist for the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and served as the liaison for the Austin and Waco Disproportionality Committee. She has organized dozens of Undoing Racism trainings. She lives with her husband and daughter in East Austin.
Daniel Llanes is a community leader, dancer, teacher, yoga instructor, performer, artist, healer and musician. He has served on the Austin Neighborhoods Council for decades and was instrumental in founding the East AustinCouncil of Neighborhoods. He was a founding member of PODER: People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources.
Lisa Fithian, is an anti-racist organizer and trainer with the Alliance of Community Trainers, ACT. She has been working for nonviolent social change since the mid 1970’s a broad range of issues using nonviolent direct action as one of her primary strategies for change. She help found the Travis Austin Recovery Group, TARG after the 2013 Halloween Floods.
Dr. Lauren Ross moved to Austin in 1974 to study water resources engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Her technical support helped to pass the Save Our Springs citizen’s referendum to protect Barton Springs, to close a hazardous waste disposal operation in a low-income, predominantly Black community near Tyler, Texas, and to restrict over-pumping of the Edwards Aquifer in San Antonio. She is active on a wide range of social justice and environmental issues in her community and is the Treasurer for Alliance of Community Trainers, Inc.