No Turning Back: Radical Progress &

Collective Liberation

Our 12th Annual Peace & Justice Action Conference was held on November 16 & 18, 2021. All workshop sessions were recorded and are available for retroactive access by registering at the link below. Keep scrolling to learn about all the wonderful speakers and workshop offerings featured in this year’s conference!

Keynote Speaker: Ian Haney López of the Race-Class Academy

We are now a multi-racial population. But can we become a multi-racial society, one that is genuinely racial egalitarian? To do so, we must build the will to overcome centuries of racism. But more than that, we must also defeat racism as a strategy. Ian Haney López challenges the audience to consider how racism functions as a class weapon, one that succeeds by actively promoting white supremacy. The point is not to elevate class over race, but rather, to learn to see how they often operate together. In turn, recognizing that race and class are already tightly linked helps prepare activists to understand the power of race-class fusion politics: the power that comes from combining demands and movements for racial and economic justice, and environmental justice too.

Keynote Speaker Ian Haney López teaches and writes about race and law at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law. He currently focuses on the use of racism as a class weapon in electoral politics, and on how to respond. Through more than a decade of research, deep surveys, and message testing, he has shown what kinds of racial messages will divide voters and what kinds of messages will unify across those divisions to build the broadest coalition. His most recent research focuses on Latino voters. Ian is the author of Dog Whistle Politics (2014) as well as Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America (2019).

Intergenerational Panel

Moderator: Ivy Pete, PJALS Youth Organizer.

Panelists: Lili Navarrete, Planned Parenthood and Raíz; Jada Richardson, Youth Leader; Toni Lodge, Native Project

We are eager to hear perspectives and lessons learned on the topic of our theme: No Turning Back: Radical Progress and Collective Liberation. What does collective liberation mean? What structural and personal transformations are required? What does it take to maintain progress when we gain ground?

Building Internationalism Across Our Movements

Presenter: Phyllis Bennis, Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and Transnational Institute

Is the US Empire really in decline? What does internationalism look like these days? These and related questions — Biden foreign policy, future of the global war on terror, the rising US-China tensions, and what it will take to bring an internationalist perspective to our movements that are focused on racial justice, on climate, on women’s and immigrants’ and LGBTQ rights will be the focus for the workshop.

Fighting Antisemitism through Solidarity: A Justice-Based Approach

Presenter: Ben Lorber, Research Analyst with Political Research Associates

In our era of exclusionary ultra-nationalism, there is no question that antisemitism in America is on the rise, from the growing white nationalist movement to the increasingly radicalizing base of MAGA supporters. At the same time, national debates around what constitutes antisemitism are more politically charged, contentious, and confusing than ever. For progressive movements that care both about fighting antisemitism and winning justice and peace in Israel/Palestine, it’s more important than ever to get clear on these issues, as we protest Israeli human rights violations and advocate for freedom and equality for Palestinians.

Antisemitism is an ideology of conspiracy theory that locks systems of oppression in place, by keeping people confused about who’s really in charge. This interactive workshop will help us understand antisemitism through an intersectional lens, analyzing both how it impacts Jewish communities and how it works alongside other forms of oppression, such as anti-immigrant xenophobia, anti-black racism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry, to keep broader structures of racial capitalism in place. We’ll get clear on the difference between antisemitism and criticism of the actions of Israel or the political ideology of Zionism, while recognizing that antisemitism, like other kinds of oppression, can sometimes show up in progressive movements. Finally, we’ll explore strategies of fighting antisemitism wherever it shows up, from a perspective of solidarity and collective liberation.

Challenging Racism in U.S. Foreign Policy Through Grassroots Advocacy

Presenters: Sarah Freeman-Woolport & Hassan El-Tayyab, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

This workshop will examine how constituents around the country can center the perspectives of communities of color while advocating for a more peaceful foreign policy. Led by two staff from the Friends Committee on National Legislation, this session will include a presentation about the intersections between racism and militarism in federal policy, and an interactive exercise focused on how peace advocates can take strategic action to shift this paradigm through Congressional advocacy.

The Struggle Over Critical Race Theory: What’s at Stake?

Moderator: Bill Aal, PJALS Member.

Panelists: Yasaman Naraghi, Professor at Gonzaga University; Scott Ward, Teacher at Spokane Public Schools 

Critical Race Theory, in recent years, has been in the forefront of American culture war. This panel will address the origins of Critical Race Theory, its relationship to academic settings, and how conservative groups waged a campaign against it that is currently playing out in local school board meetings.

Redistricting and the Attack on Democracy

Presenters: Ann Murphy, President of League of Women Voters / Spokane Area; Liz Moore, Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane

In the midst of nation-wide attacks on voting rights and democracy, locally we have a historic opportunity which will determine our future for generations. For the first time ever, Spokane County is switching to a district-based system in five new districts for electing our County Commissioners. County Commissioners hold great power over our daily lives and futures, making critical decisions on public safety, housing, climate change, and public health. PJALS and many other groups are united in a vision to create five competitive, fair, and equitable County Commissioner districts. Come learn and take action!

Race-Class Praxis

Presenter: Ian Haney López, Race-Class Academy

The race-class approach promotes a paradigm change in how activists conceptualize and in turn communicate the core questions that shape citizen participation: Who am I in society? Who threatens me? Who are my allies? And like any paradigm change, internalizing race-class insights requires practicing its application in different contexts. This workshop helps participants ask these key questions of themselves, while also practicing how they might frame race-class issue campaigns.

Engaging Youth for Grassroots Organizing: Strategies, Struggles, and Successes

Presenters: Sarah Hegde, PJALS Youth Organizer; Ivy Pete, PJALS Youth Organizer

In this workshop Sarah and Ivy will discuss strategies for engaging young people in social justice movements as well as systemic barriers to success for young organizers. We will cover a range of case studies from young people at the front lines. This will be followed by a work session to network and create solutions and opportunities for youth voice in justice movements. If you know a young person and want to get them involved, join us! If your organization or movement lacks youth voice, or you don’t even know where to start, join us! If you want a refreshing perspective on current events and issues and want to know more about youth organizing, join us!

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