Every month, we provide our Lead East Bay cohort with a deep dive into topics that prepare them to step into public leadership roles as organizers for racial, economic, and environmental justice. This past month’s training devoted a full day to Race, Power & Privilege and how we can sharpen our approaches to governance to advance racial justice. Facilitated by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, the session examined various forms of power and how they interplay with race and economics so that we can change the narrative and shift power into the hands of our communities.

With the national consolidation of power by the Right, our communities are under attack in new ways. The Right has engaged in an intentional project for more than three decades to change the terms of the debate on race, and, as they have become more powerful, they have succeeded on many fronts. We see concepts such as “color blindness” and “post-racialism” as a part of that assault on our communities, obscuring the ways that our communities are intentionally targeted and destroyed. In some segments of our movements, folks have either adopted this ethos of color blindness, or at best still have important blind spots when it comes to intersectional organizing and advocacy. And when we talk about governance, those blind spots at best and refusals at worst have real and tangible impacts on our communities and our ability to build the kind of power that leaves no one else behind.

We are training our cohort of social justice leaders to be literate in both interrupting and building power to advance racial justice. As a case study in how Black and Brown unity can overcome deep-pocketed interests, Causa Justa::Just Cause presented their work on Measure JJ which succeeded in passing increased renters’ protections. We dove deeper into power building opportunities as we heard from leaders of Parent Voices Oakland, EBASE, APEN, and others during a panel discussion that further connected the need to lift up both racial and economic justice when challenging systems of power.

By defining power and identifying the various forms that it can take, participants examined how to balance short-term reforms and long-term transformational organizing while making sure no one gets left behind. This deep dive into race, power and privilege is crucial as Lead East Bay participants examine how these dynamics may play out in their own campaigns and work. Through trainings like this, we are building a cohort of racial and economic justice warriors who will be ready to step into roles of leadership within local government and lead from a place that centers working-class, immigrant, and communities of color.




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