White Privilege Conference Debrief
By: Angela Moran [Community Engagement Director, Project VOYCE]
I was pleasantly surprised as a recent attendee of the 18th Annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) in the Heartland, Kansas City, Missouri this past April 2017 to see so many community members from all over the US congregating for multiple purposes related to organizing, strategizing, taking-action, deconstructing the culture of white supremacy and privilege in order to create peace, equity, and opportunity.
The mission of WPC is to provide a challenging, collaborative and comprehensive experience. They strive to empower and equip individuals to work for equity and justice through self and social transformation.
In order to achieve the WPC mission the core values utilized are collaboration, consciousness-building (of privilege & oppression); comprehensive approach (in terms of content & process); challenging & supportive environment; intersectional content; strategic and action-oriented; reciprocity between us and our participants; accountability & responsibility; relationship building; and purpose-driven (we are fighting for liberation, social justice, and equity).
WPC aims to create a learning community in which participants engage in a challenging educational experience as respectful community members through workshops conducted by facilitators and speakers for three days while engaging the Founder and President of The Privilege Institute, Eddie Moore Jr along with several supporters. Each day ends with caucus time and events which serve as a safe place to debrief all the incredible wealth of knowledge shared out in groups identified as People of Color/ Indigenous; College Students of Color/ Indigenous College Student; Bi-Racial/ Mixed Heritage; White/ Anti-Racist; and Need a Good Listener.
Among the many exceptional workshops one that spoke to me as I work along side of the Project Voyce youth in the Block Captain program as social change agents for their Northeast Denver communities was “Unlearn Critical Thinking By Design” facilitated by Abhi Ahluwalia of Unlearn based in Kitchener, Ontario. The workshop has been inspired by the Socratic philosophy, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think,” which challenged participants to think critically about stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and white privilege through experimental activities. As Block Captains address unlearning oppression this workshop proved to provide additional support that others are tackling the uncomfortable topics in order to move forward for equity at all ages. For information or to support Unlearn please refer to www.unlearn.com
To encourage networking and sharing out the multiple approaches to social justice a conference dinner is provided to showcase all the wonderful work happening to include the individuals. One such talent that caught the attention of the entire room of hundred plus attendees was Jasiri X a Pittsburgh-based rapper and activist who gained attention for his 2007 song "Free the Jena 6." He is a recipient of the Rauchenberg Artist as Activist award and founder of anti-violence group 1Hood. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Chicago Theological Seminary. His approach includes freeing minds one rhyme at a time. He rapped and showcased a video all too close to the Project Voyce Block Captains, gentrification which has hit the Denver area with a vengeance. For information or to support Jasiri X please refer to http://jasirix.com.
In summary, my experience at WPC demonstrated the continued importance of Project Voyce’s work with youth, adults, and the surrounding communities. For more information please refer to “The Privilege Institute” https://www.theprivilegeinstitute.com