I am incredibly excited to announce the Dismantling White Supremacy Unconference taking place at the Impact Hub Oakland on June 14–15, 2019.
What is this event?
It’s time to have a family meeting. The objective of this event is to provide a safe space for people of color and white allies — including activists, policy-makers, business leaders, employees, community organizers, or other residents or community members — to have an explicit conversation about dismantling systemic white supremacy (and the many discussions that come up around white supremacy) in a community-led forum.
Please note we are not proposing that we discuss the bigotry of individuals (e.g., Neo-Nazis and KKK members) who identify as white supremacists. Our framing definition is:
White Supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege. (Definition of White Supremacy by the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop in San Francisco, California).
This event is critically important because we believe that naming, disrupting, and dismantling white supremacy is a necessary precondition to creating an inclusive economy that works for everyone.
Who are the organizers?
The Dismantle Collective (a fiscally sponsored project of Community Ventures, a 501c3 non-profit) is a person of color-led group of Certified B Corps, including:
What is the backstory to this Unconference?
The Dismantle Collective formed in September 2018 at the B Corp Champions Retreat in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The seed of the group came during a session for people of color and subsequent lunch discussion about how to deepen racial justice work in the B Corp community (and the economy more broadly).
Some of the conversations revolved around how the B Corp community is currently running an “Inclusive Economy Challenge” to identify ways that Certified B Corps can help build an economy that works for everyone.
While members of our group appreciated the framing around an inclusive economy, we started to explore what it might look like to focus on “dismantling white supremacy” instead. We liked how precise and direct the term was in identifying the real problem — the uncomfortable truth that many people want to soften or avoid. We agreed that we cannot build an economy that works for everyone without first naming, disrupting, and dismantling white supremacy.
Our group then decided to host an impromptu session at the B Corp Champions Retreat entitled “Let’s Talk About White Supremacy.” Even though the session was published on the conference app at the last minute (e.g., 20 minutes before breakout sessions were scheduled to start) we had a very surprising turnout. Roughly 60 people — or 10% of all attendees at the conference — showed up for our session. There was an equal mix of attendees who identified as white and people of color.
The session was incredibly powerful. White folks and people of color spoke about how white supremacy had affected their lives. A 90 minute session turned into a four hour discussion. People were uncomfortable. People cried. People hugged. People laughed. People felt empowered. People felt inspired to continue the conversation beyond the B Corp retreat.
This experience (and our recurring discussions since that event) have clarified how important it is to not shy away from the term “white supremacy” — even if people try to resist it or change the conversation to something more socially acceptable.
We are excited to bring both a business lens and an activism lens to this conversation. Members of the Dismantle Collective have experience in running successful social enterprises, all while being deeply involved in activism, grassroots organizing, community engagement, facilitating difficult conversations, and supporting movement work.
We hope to help elevate the conversation around dismantling white supremacy in partnership with socially responsible business leaders and social justice allies.
Why are you organizing it?
There are many reasons behind why this Unconference is being organized. Some of these reasons include:
Calling it what it is. Most public (and private) conversations do not explicitly discuss white supremacy. Different terminology is often used because talking about white supremacy is uncomfortable for white folks and can be seen as too “problem-focused.” It is undeniable that people need to be met where they are at and that solutions-oriented work is incredibly important. For this event, however, we are proposing that we “go there” to the deeply uncomfortable conversations around white supremacy. In our experience, there is a particular type of clarity, power, and freedom that comes with naming systemic white supremacy, holding it up for examination, and collectively identifying how we can dismantle it.
Distinguishing the term “white supremacy” from “white supremacists.” The primary objective of this event is not to discuss the bigotry of individuals who identify as neo-Nazi’s, KKK members, or other white supremacists. We are organizing this event to discuss the system of white supremacy in which white domination of society is seen as the default order of things.
Discussing how white supremacy connects with other forms of oppression. White supremacy implies a number of unspoken norms. It describes the social order in which one kind of person is superior: a white, Anglo, cisgender, christian, heterosexual, wealth-oriented, non-disabled, male. People who do not fit neatly into each of these categories are often forced to Anglicize their names, hide their sexual identity, play up their wealth, act “male,” and hide their religion. This event is designed to provide a space for folks to discuss how white supremacy connects with other forms of oppression (e.g., patriarchy, homophonia, ableism, religious intolerance, etc).
Creating a POC-centered, multi-racial space to have the conversations you want to have. You can have the conversations you want to have with the people you want to have them with. Period. For example, you might want to talk about anti-blackness with other Black people. You might want to talk about white supremacy with other white people. You might want to talk about the many forms of white supremacy with a diverse group of people that you don’t normally have these conversations with. It is up to you to decide. You don’t have to justify what conversations you want to have. You don’t have to participate in anything you don’t want to.
Creating a further layer of care (within a POC-centered space) for Black folks. American society, which is rooted in white supremacy, has persecuted a centuries-long personal, cultural, social, legal, and structural attack on Black people. Anti-blackness cuts across all groups (including Black people). Often, the darker one’s skin, the more compounded the oppression. In addition to being POC-centered, this event will further center the needs of — and provide another layer of care to — Black attendees.
Helping progressive white people be better allies. Many progressive white folks believe that being open minded, voting for Obama, being a good person, living in a diverse area, marching in the sixties, or having people of color who are friends and/or family members means that they cannot have a worldview that is fundamentally shaped by white supremacy. This line of reasoning is deeply problematic. One ideal outcome of this event is to help white people (especially progressive white people who believe they are “not racist” and/or “already get it”) better understand how their unconscious and unintentional actions are indeed reinforcing and upholding systemic white supremacy.
Bringing together different sectors. Many discussions around this topic are siloed between sectors. We want to bring together socially-responsible business groups, non-profit / activist groups, government employees, and others to collectively discuss how we can dismantle white supremacy.
What do you mean by an “Unconference”? Who are the speakers? What topics and/or sessions will be offered?
We believe that the best solutions for the community come from the community. An Unconference empowers the attendees to drive the conversation. There will be no keynote speakers or pre-set “content tracks.” The people who show up for the Unconference are the ones who decide what topics and sessions they want to organize.
The job of the event organizers is to facilitate the process of generating session ideas, to provide space for those conversations to happen, and to provide support to attendees throughout the day.
If you are interested in potentially hosting a discussion, we will be providing more details about what folks might need to prepare in order to be ready for the event. These details will be sent out to all attendees in the coming weeks.
What is the agenda for the event?
This event is being held over two days: Friday, June 14 from 6pm-9pm and Saturday, June 15 from 8am-6pm.
This event includes music, dancing, theater, performance and other forms of art. We are including these art forms because we believe it is critically important to engage all part of ourselves at the event — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We also want to challenge the conventional wisdom about what is “normal” or “appropriate” for a conference.
The draft agenda — which is subject to change — is listed below:
Friday, June 14 (Dinner and Dance Party)
6:00pm — 7:00pm: Dinner + Connections
7:00pm — 7:30pm: Welcome + Introduction
7:30pm — 8:30pm: Music + Dancing + Community Conversation (using dance, music, and movement to create mutual agreements and ground rules).
8:30pm — 9:00pm: Q&A
Saturday, June 15 (Theater and Conversations)
Note: There are two large blocks of time set aside for conversations during the day on Saturday. Some people will want to be in one conversation all day. Others will want to move around. It’s up to you to decide.
8:00am — 9:00am: Breakfast
9:00am — 9:30am: Theater / Performance
9:30am — 10:30am: Facilitated process of choosing conversations
10:30am — 12:30pm: Conversation Space 1
12:30pm — 1:30pm: Lunch
1:30pm — 3:30pm: Conversation Space 2
3:30pm — 4:00pm: Break
4:00pm — 5:00pm: Whole conference reconvenes for facilitated share back / next actions
5:00pm — 6:00pm: Group closing ceremony
Who is this event for? Who should attend?
This event is for everyone. It is for people of color and white allies. It is for activists, policy-makers, business leaders, employees, community organizers, or other residents and community members.
In particular, we want to bring together groups that are traditionally siloed from each other, including business groups, non-profit / activist groups, government employees, and others.
What about other systemic problems like patriarchy, homophobia, ageism, religious intolerance, etc.? Will these types of topics be addressed as well?
As we mentioned earlier, white supremacy implies a number of unspoken norms. It describes the social order in which one kind of person is superior: a white, Anglo, cisgender, christian, heterosexual, wealth-oriented, able-bodied, male.
People who do not fit neatly into each of these categories are often forced to Anglicize their names, hide their sexuality, play up their wealth, act “male,” and hide their religion.
This event is designed to provide a space for folks to discuss how white supremacy intersects with other forms of oppression (e.g., patriarchy, homophobia, ableism, religious intolerance, etc). We encourage attendees to organize sessions around intersectionality and oppression if they feel moved to do so.
This is a very sensitive topic. How will you ensure the safety of the attendees?
We take safety very seriously. We are hiring professional security staff who will be onsite to monitor the entire event. In addition, our safety committee is organizing a group of trained “healers” and facilitators who will help ensure that the event stays physically safe, that no one is bullied, and that no one is discriminated against.
What we cannot guarantee, however, is that the event and breakout discussions will be “comfortable” for all attendees. Indeed, the event is guaranteed to be uncomfortable at times.
Is this event exclusively for people of color, or are white-identified folks encouraged to attend as well?
Roughly 70% of the tickets available for this event will be reserved for people of color (self-identified). Roughly 30% of the available tickets for this event will be reserved for white people (self-identified). We have designed this attendee mix intentionally since this is a POC-centered event.
With this being said, white people are still highly encouraged to attend. Indeed, the event itself is being organized by a group of POC and white allies.
Why are the tickets for white-identified attendees significantly more expensive than for tickets for people of color?
A conference about dismantling white supremacy should definitely have a variation in pricing for different attendees. We believe this pricing model is a modest — albeit insufficient — means of taking into account the historical advantages and privilege afforded to white people over generations. Indeed, due to the racial wealth gap in the United States, white families have more than 10 times as much generational wealth as Black and Latinx families.
If you are a white person and strongly believe that this pricing structure is unfair, it is probably a sign that this event is not for you.
Do you offer scholarships?
Yes! We have a limited number of free scholarships for attendees in need. Please take a few moments to fill out our scholarship application here. After submitting your responses, you will hear back from us about our decision within two weeks.
Can I pay more to help subsidize scholarships for others?
Yes! Please choose the ticket option that allows you to pay more and subsidize attendance for participants who would not otherwise be able to attend.
How can I help get the word out?
We are still looking for aligned sponsors, so please reach out if you have any introductions you would like to make for us. In addition, please click here to review our promotional page with example social media posts you can use in any outreach / cross promotion.
Who should I contact if I have questions, comments, or concerns?
Please click here to buy tickets and/or to learn more about the Unconference. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, or concerns. We hope to see you there!