The Spring 2010 issue of YES! Magazine examines America’s future as a multiracial nation and explores ways Americans today are already working across race lines.
Here are some groups, campaigns, media sources, and organizations to help you learn more about the multiracial experience and growing movements across the country. Pick one (or 10) that interest you and get involved yourself!
Be vocal about your feelings on racial discrimination and connect and organize with others who are too! Join up with Just Cause to help fight for immigrant rights in the Bay area. Splurge on dinner that fights discrimination at NYC’s Colors cooperative restaurant. Organize a fundraiser in your community to benefit Health Care Is a Human Right’s free medical clinics. The organizations below are fighting to break down racial and cultural barriers in the fields of economy and jobs, justice and democracy, and environment.
Economy and Jobs
Colors is a worker-owned international restaurant in New York’s NoHo district, with a menu drawn from the varying cultures of its owners. A group of former World Trade Center restaurant workers started the establishment after 9/11. The space is used during the day by the COLORS Hospitality & Opportunities for Workers (CHOW) Institute, which provides free training for restaurant workers trying to move up the ladder of the restaurant industry.www.rocny.org/colors
Jobs With Justice engages workers and their allies in campaigns to win justice in the workplace and in the communities of working families. They believe in the continued elevation of economic and social justice through long-term multi-issue coalition building, grassroots base-building and organizing, strategic militant action, and the engagement of a wide community of allies. www.jwj.org
Just Cause, the newly integrated merger of Just Cause Oakland and the St. Peter’s Housing Committee, works to promote awareness of and build coalitions in support of tenant and immigrant rights among low-income and predominantly immigrant communities in the Bay Area. www.cjjc.org
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is a national organization of restaurant workers that provides free training and technical assistance to restaurant workers, develops restaurant worker organizing projects, conducts national research on the restaurant industry, and engages in policy work to improve working conditions for restaurant workers. www.rocunited.org
The Workers Defense Project is a center in Austin, TX, devoted to the protection of low-wage workers rights—particularly through the provision of resources with which to fight workplace abuse and challenge fundamental structures of hierarchy. www.workersdefense.org
Justice and Democracy
The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality is working to organize a local, national, and international voice against institutional violence and police brutality, through the engagement of both victims and other societal sectors. www.detroitcoalition.org
Healthcare is a Human Right is an organization committed to providing holistic health care to all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic status. Currently their staff of medical volunteers operate quarterly free clinics in Woodstock, Phoenicia, and Kingston, NY. www.healthcareisahumanright.com
The League of Young Voters is working to empower young people nationwide to create progressive political change on the local, state, and national level through engagement in the democratic process. While the organization seeks to engage all youth, it particularly focuses on non-college youth and those from low-income communities and communities of color. www.theleague.com
OneAmerica works with both local and national community partners to protect and advance the fundamental principals of democracy, justice, and human rights for all Americans, particularly immigrants. www.hatefreezone.org
The Making Milwaukee Green Coalition is comprised of central Milwaukee residents and inner city business owners dedicated to the rejuvenation of the Milwaukee economy through the creation of green collar jobs. The group is facilitated by The League of Young Voters and The Campaign Against Violence. www.theleague.com/cav/archive/green-investment-create-economic-opportunities-for-all/
The Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project is a Bay Area organization that provides training about the climate crisis and facilitates strategic action planning among urban community organizers working towards economic and racial justice in communities of color. www.movementgeneration.org
Engaging in, implementing, and nurturing communities of diversity takes effort. Be deliberate about the community in which you live, and seek out neighborhoods which count diversity and openness among their goals. Travel to the U.S. Social Forum in June to tap into new ideas about de-compartmentalizing our world and connect with like-minded people from across the nation. Strike up conversations and compare experiences with those from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The organizations below are working to share knowledge and experience about how to build movements that transcend race and class lines.
Allied Media Projects is a Detroit-based organization that supports and advances media-based organizing models; particularly through its annual Allied Media Conference—an organizing space in which social justice leaders and alternative media specialists meet and collaborate. www.alliedmediaconference.org
The Center for Media Justice is a communications strategy and outreach center for grassroots leaders and organizations based primarily in historically disenfranchised communities. The center hopes to facilitate communications and media activism strategies that provide a successful avenue for improvements in racial justice, economic and gender equity, and youth rights. www.centerformediajustice.org
Fund for an OPEN Society (OPEN) is a national non-profit working to promote thriving racially and ethnically integrated societies. They are committed to enabling a break from America’s past of racial and ethnic separation as an organizing principle of its economy, politics, and social circles. www.opensoc.org
The Ruckus Society provides training and strategic tools in non-violent direct action to organizations and activists seeking to advance campaigns in environmentalism, human rights, and social justice. www.ruckus.org
The Third Coast Activist Resource Center was created in order to help activists in Austin, TX strengthen their efforts in sustainable organizing. This is undertaken both through the support of the local activist network as part of a larger national and international movement for global justice and through the distribution of educational resources and the worldwide organization of community events pertaining to U.S. policy. www.thirdcoastactivist.org
The United States Social Forum is an annual gathering of engaged citizens dedicated to the formulation and discussion of alternative world policies. The forum is intended to spread the idea that there is an active movement within the U.S. that opposes both domestic and international U.S. policy. www.ussf2010.org
The World Social Forum is an open meeting, held annually in Brazil, for social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital. Attendees come together to pursue thinking, debate ideas democratically, formulate proposals, share their experiences freely, and network for effective action. www.forumsocialmundial.org.br
“Take Back DC” is a Jobs With Justice campaign dedicated to bringing an immediate halt to the privatization of public services and property currently being enacted by government officials in Washington DC. It is focused on demanding impact assessments of recently-privatized departments, a framework for transparent, inclusive community input, that the City honor union contracts and bargain in good faith, and fair wages for cab drivers and city workers. www.jwjblog.org/2009/10/take-back-dc-protecting-the-public-sector-holding-elected-officials-accountable/
Urban Habitat is a Bay Area program dedicated to empowering low-income communities and communities of color by using a combination of education, advocacy, research, and coalition building. www.urbanhabitat.org
Urban Land Institute is a membership-based research and education non-profit organization that aims not only to provide leadership in responsible land use, but in creating and sustaining thriving communities around the globe. www.uli.org
Understanding your own identity can be complicated and confusing, but reaching out to others who are also struggling to understand their place in the world gives you valuable emotional support and provides you with an arena to further explore ideas about race and culture. Start your own Swirl community in your area and invite others to join. Take your children to the traveling “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit and talk to them about how race has affected their lives and those of friends and family. The organizations below are connecting people across the world who want to learn more about themselves and others.
Loving Day is a global network of events that aim to build multicultural community and fight racial prejudice, celebrated annually on June 12th. The holiday marks the date of the landmark 1967 supreme court decision to legalize interracial marriage throughout the United States. www.lovingday.org
The Mosaic Project is a week-long residential program for young children of diverse backgrounds, that inspires them to work towards a more loving and peaceful society through song, collaboration, and inclusivity. www.mosaicproject.org
“Race: Are We So Different?” is a traveling museum exhibit, that explores the realities and unrealities of race, ethnicity, and human variation. A project of the American Anthropological Association, the exhibit explores the experience of living with race, its history as an idea, the role of science in that history, and contemporary scientific findings that are challenging the foundations of racial difference. www.understandingrace.org
The Rockwood Leadership Institute specializes in delivering the best practices and methodologies in leadership development to the nonprofit community through leadership trainings. With nearly 2,500 alumni, Rockwood is the largest provider of transformative leadership trainings for social change nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. www.rockwoodleadership.org
Swirl is a national meet-up organization for multiracial individuals, families, and their allies, with chapters in eleven locations across the country. Members meet for events such as book readings, film screenings, happy hours, and playdates in an effort to increase awareness around multiracial issues and offer friendship and support to one another. www.swirlinc.wordpress.com
Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing, directed by Nadeem Uddin, co-produced by Nadeem Uddin and Robert Jensen (2009), is a documentary in which the 92-year-old Osheroff reflects on the meaning, ideas, and wisdom behind his life-long activism, which has included key contributions to the Spanish Civil War, the U.S. labor movement, the struggle for civil rights in Mississippi, and human rights advocacy in Nicaragua.
The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization, by Rinku Sen with contributor Fekkak Mamdouh (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008), argues that labor should flow freely across international borders, as capital does through globalization. The book illustrates the contradictions and challenges of U.S. Immigration Policy, through Mamdouh’s own experience as an immigrant living in New York after the attack on the World Trade Center.
“Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It” (Institute for Policy Studies, December 7,2009) is a policy report that advances a comprehensive plan to combat poverty and unemployment given the coalescence of the rising effects of the economic crisis and the failure of our national social safety net.
Breakthrough Communities: Sustainability and Justice in the Next American Metropolis, edited by M. Paloma Pavel, foreword by Carl Anthony (MIT Press, 2009) uses case studies of successful mobilizations for sustainability and justice, in which activists’ accounts alternate with policy analyses, to demonstrate that economy, environment, and equity are mutually reinforcing.
Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology, edited by Faith Adiele (New Press, 2007) is an anthology of 24 stories on adolescence and growing up from noted authors around the world.
Coming of Age in America: A Multicultural Anthology, edited by Mary Frosch (New Press, 1995) is an anthology of more than 20 short stories and book excerpts on adolescence and growing up from such noted authors around the United States, including pieces from Julia Alvarez and Tobias Wolff.
Family Activism: Empowering Your Community Beginning with Family & Friends, by Roberto Vargas (Berrett-Koehler, 2008) outlines Vargas’ "Familia Approach" to activism—a tribute to his Mexican background. Vargas advocates for activism not as a solo pursuit of ideals, but as "a way of living so as to teach love and activate the positive power of our families and communities." Treating each relationship in our lives with the same love and respect that we accord to those we hold with friends and family can create powerful social change and tackle community problems on a larger scale.
The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege, by Robert Jensen (City Lights Publishers, 2005), argues that the time has come for white people to acknowledge that they are at the root of our societal problems with racism and white-privilege in the United States. Furthermore, he argues that by denying non-whites their humanity, our social system also keeps whites from fully accessing their own.
Meeting Faith: The Thai Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun, by Faith Adiele (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004) is Adiele’s account of her spiritual journey, as she becomes a Buddhist nun. Living in a forest temple in Thailand, Adiele intersperses journal entries with personal narrative to detail her personal struggles with meditation, fasting, loneliness, and the value of faith.
Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids, by Kip Fulbeck (Chronicle Books, forthcoming March, 2010), is a book featuring the portraits of multiracial children. Each portrait is accompanied by a handwritten statement from the child and a note from their parents about the multiracial experience.
My Journey Home, co-produced and co-directed by Renee Tajima-Peña and Lourdes Portillo (2004), is a PBS documentary profiling the splintered cultural identity and experiences of three multiracial Americans—Faith Adiele, Andrew Lam, and Armondo Pena—as they travel to their ancestral homelands, retracing the intersection of historical events and their own family histories.
The New Metropolis is a two-part PBS documentary series, produced and directed by Andrea Torrice, that explores the challenges faced by our older suburbs, including a dwindling tax base, population and business loss, decaying infrastructure, increased racial tensions, and white flight, and points towards solutions for their revitalization. The series is available through Bullfrog Films and www.TheNewMetropolis.com.
Part Asian, 100% Hapa, by Kip Fulbeck (Chronicle Books, 2006), is a book of Hapa portraits, each of which is accompanied by a handwritten response to the question, “What are you?” The term Hapa, Hawaiian for half, was originally used in derogatory contexts, but today has been pridefully reclaimed by many of those whose mixed racial backgrounds include Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry.