New Strategies for Racial Justice in 2011

Marjory Hamann

There's nothing like the start of a new year to get you thinking about what you want to do differently.  For me, 2010 felt like it was all about laying the groundwork for new things--which means 2011 is a time of change and action. 

For example, last year MRG was actively involved in projects to document the impact of funding advocacy and community organizing, and the amount of foundation funding in communities of color in Oregon.  By doing that we met a lot of people in the funding community who share our interests, and we're going to work together In the year ahead to increase the amount of funding communities of color receive for organizing and advocacy in our state.  

Thinking about that made me wonder how other people were updating their strategies for racial justice in the new year.  So I checked in with five experienced racial justice activists to see where they were putting their time and energy in 2011.  Here's what they had to say. 

Daniel HoSang, University of Oregon Assitant Professor of Ethnic Studies and Political Science and author of Racial Propositions: Ballot Initiatives and the Making of Postwar California

"I'm working on developing new collaborations and alliances between students at the University of Oregon and social justice groups in the region around our shared commitments to racial justice. The crisis facing our state around education, labor rights, prisons, failed immigration policies, and LGBT rights present an unprecedented opportunity to work across regions, issues, and communities."

Scot Nakagawa, currently an organizational consultant, former MRG Executive Director

"In 2011, I'm working on convening a group of researchers and community advocates to address the rise of racism and the right wing and devise counter-organizing strategies.  The emergence of the Tea Parties as, perhaps, the most dynamic force in U.S. politics at a time of economic and political crises makes the new decade a time for advocates of small "d" democracy to be vigilante, vocal and bold."

Arbrella Luvert, Co-Chair MRG Board, Board member of NAACP Eugene Springfield, retired school district administrator

"I am going to develop the leadership of youth ages 5-21: assist and train them how to effectively use their voice and create and be the change they want to see in this society.  The Eugene/Springfield NAACP Youth Council rechartered their unit last year thanks to student advocates in Lane County."

Francisco Lopez, Executive Director CAUSA Oregon

"CAUSA will build power for the common good and work towards the full integration of our Latino community in Oregon. We will organize in the areas of affordable housing, education, health, safety, immigration reform, jobs and the economy in 2011, and keep working on our legislative agenda."

Kelley Weigel, Executive Director, Western State Center

"In 2011 Western States Center is working hand in hand with over 15 Oregon based groups to win policies that promote racial and gender equity from the county to the state level. For the first time, groups in Oregon will apply a racial justice lens to the work of the legislature and provide some perspective about how well lawmakers are helping to advance racial equity. During such challenging economic times, it's important social justice groups stay focused on the values around our work and press for policies which retain those values."

Updating our strategies for the new year is more than just an annual ritual. It's an essential practice to adjust to a rapidly changing world. After all, who would have predicted in January of last year that there would be a critical mass of people in Congress actively thinking about repealing the 14th amendment now?  

But while the political climate is always changing, one thing stays the same--when we work for racial justice it creates a better world for all of us.

What will you do differently to create a just and equitable world in the year ahead?