BOLD Frequently Asked Questions

What is BOLD?

Our overall goal with BOLD is to build grassroots power to address racism and poverty in Spokane County by increasing the number of people taking action together.

There are two parts: learning and acting.

First we’re coming together for the BOLD Academy to gain a shared understanding of how racism and poverty are intertwined and used by the reactionary rich to to oppress and divide our community.

Next, we take this analysis into the community, initiating conversations about racism and poverty with our neighbors, and inviting them to join us in struggle against  oppression.

BOLD is the continuation of work PJALS first piloted in 2019 and conversations that have been happening in coalition spaces across Spokane County for several years. We’re taking on this endeavor with several partner organizations who share our philosophy of racial and economic justice, including:

What is the BOLD Academy?

The BOLD Academy is a 5-week interactive workshop series, developed by participants in the first BOLD cycle, to help us build a common understanding of how racism and poverty are intertwined and weaponized by the reactionary rich to oppress and divide our community.

BOLD Academy starts Wednesday, September 28 at 6 pm over Zoom and will continue October 5, 12, 19, and 26.

SIGN UP TO ATTEND

Is the BOLD Academy the same as the Race Class Academy?

No. The first cycle of BOLD used Ian Haney Lopez’s Race-Class Academy. At the time we believed it was the best tool available to help our community understand race-class analysis. The first cycle taught us a lot, and members of that first cycle formed a team to write the BOLD Academy curriculum.

This new curriculum includes some of Ian Haney Lopez’s work, and we remain deeply grateful to him for his work, and the time and effort he shared with us specifically. However, the BOLD Academy has been specifically  tailored to the needs of the BOLD project, and the Spokane County community.

Who is BOLD for?

BOLD is for and by the Spokane County Community. We are coming together as community members who are dedicated to ending racism and poverty, with a goal of reaching those who share our values, but are not currently engaged in the struggle.

This is not persuasion work, this is activation work.

The work of persuading people that racism and poverty are real and present harms that must be addressed with a clear analysis and moral urgency is important and critical to our society. But this is not that.

We believe that we–the community of people who are already aware of and touched by the harms of racism and poverty–are in the majority.  A lot of people in Spokane County care about our communities and show up in solidarity across race, class, and the other things that sometimes divide us. Many people, however, care but are not actively engaged in the struggle.

There are a variety of reasons for this. Some people don’t know about the work currently being done in our community, others are unsure of the best place to put their efforts, some need an accountable action community, while still others have different reasons altogether.

These people are ready to be activated for justice. These are the people the BOLD Project is meant to reach.

Should I sign up for the BOLD Academy?

If you are passionate about challenging systemic racism and poverty in Spokane County, are eager to take tangible steps to end them, and value community action, sign up for the BOLD Academy.

We begin with the assumptions that systemic and structural racism and classism are real. This means neither require the hatred or ill will of individuals to exist. Instead, people may be disadvantaged, or experience unequal treatment along racial or economic lines because of laws, policies, and the way institutions are structured.

We also assume that cross-race and cross-class solidarity are possible and desirable. While it takes a lot of internal work and external patience and cooperation, people of different races can effectively work together to build a society where we all thrive. And while we may all have different financial circumstances, the middle class worker, white-collar professional, and unhoused urban camper, ultimately have more in common with one another than with the uber-wealthy power brokers who seek to divide us.

If you are just beginning your social justice journey, or have not yet considered how race operates in our society, BOLD may not yet be the best fit for you. For “Race 101”-style training, we recommend exploring:

What if I can’t commit to five weeks?

For everyone – especially for white people – choosing to show up for justice from a position of personal commitment, instead of a position of convenience, is an important part of acting in solidarity with BIPOC and other oppressed communities.

That said, BOLD is a substantial commitment, and it’s also important to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Anyone who participates in at least 3 of the 5 BOLD Academy workshops is eligible to participate in all BOLD activities. We thank you for your time and commitment to racial and economic justice.

Why is BOLD Academy using race-based caucuses?

White people and people of color have work to do separately, and together, to dismantle racism. The first four BOLD Academy sessions are held in race-based caucuses, which will offer specialized learning environments. We commit to come back together to do our shared work. 

It’s extremely important for white people to ask frank questions, address areas of ignorance, and work explicitly and intentionally toward understanding the realities and impacts of whiteness. However, white people can do harm to people of color while learning. A white caucus provides the space and safety to engage difficult ideas among peers, who can call one another in without having to navigate primary trauma. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other, rather than relying on people of color to teach them.

For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with their peers on their experiences of internalized racism, for healing and to work on liberation.

Furthermore, it’s important to acknowledge that “BIPOC” represents an extremely diverse set of communities who are all oppressed by white supremacy in unique ways. There are tensions and conflicts that exist between different communities that BIPOC often do not feel free to address under the white gaze. We hope having two separate caucuses will allow BIPOC BOLD participants to address these dynamics with authenticity.

The last workshop of this BOLD cycle, and most subsequent activities, will be in a fully integrated space with both white and BIPOC caucus members.

 

What happens after the BOLD Academy?

Using the shared analysis we’ve built together, and the tools and materials we’ve acquired, we’re going to talk with our neighbors about racism and poverty and how, together, we can challenge them in Spokane County. That’s right … we’re canvassing.

But we aren’t just walking up to random doors to have controversial conversations. We’re carefully choosing members of our community whom we have reason to believe care as much about ending racism and poverty as we do. We’re deep canvassing – meaning we’re having real conversations that average 15 minutes each about what we see and experience in our community. And we’re building relationships, expanding the community of people struggling together to make our community better.

This takes training and time, but the first step is completing the BOLD Academy.

Why are we talking with neighbors about racism and poverty?

We believe that we – the community of people who are already aware of and touched by the harms of racism and poverty – are in the majority. Many people, however, are not actively engaged in the struggle.

There are a variety of reasons for this. Some people don’t know about the work currently being done in our community, others are unsure of the best place to put their efforts, some need an accountable action community, while still others have different reasons altogether.

These people are ready to be activated for justice, and one great way to do this is to knock on their door and directly connect them with clear opportunities to join the struggle.

The conversations we’re having this fall will also encourage people to vote their values. On November 8th, Spokane County will elect a county prosecutor, five county commissioners, and several judges, all of whom play key roles in our local criminal-legal system. Voting our values is one limited but important step to shaping the future of Spokane County.

We also believe that talking about race and class, two things we are conditioned to be silent about, is revolutionary in itself. Racism and classism cannot thrive under the critical gaze of a community dedicated to justice.

I feel uncomfortable talking with neighbors about racism and poverty. What should I do?

It’s okay. This discomfort is 100% natural and valid. We are conditioned, in our society, to avoid talking about racism and poverty. They certainly aren’t considered polite dinner conversation!

The goal of the BOLD Academy is to develop a deeper understanding of these issues, and give you tools to increase your competence in talking about them with people primed to welcome the conversation.

The goal is not to debate, but to connect.

But if you’re still not sold on the idea of talking about race and class with neighbors, come to the BOLD Academy anyway. Of course, we hope everyone who participates in the BOLD Academy will be open to canvassing, but knowledge is never wasted, and we are also building community in the BOLD Academy. We would love for you to be a part of this community.

I still have other questions…

Hopefully, you have enough information to join us on September 28th at 6 pm for the BOLD Academy. If your questions weren’t answered here, you will have the chance to ask them there.

You can also send an email to Jac Archer, PJALS Organizer at [email protected]. We can’t wait to see you.