Week 2 – New York:
I’ve been spending this week in New York, visiting with some very inspiring people who have dedicated their life to work to achieve racial justice.
The message I have clearly heard this week is that to reduce racism in the long term you must address institutional racism. Addressing interpersonal racism is a good start – you need to start somewhere – but for sustainable, long term change policies and practices need to be made more equitable.
For example I met with Tiffany Warren, the Founder and President of AdColor which works to celebrate, inspire and champion people of colour working in the advertising, marketing and related industries. Frustrated at being one of the few people of color in the industry, Tiffany started out by organising an awards event. Over the last eight years she has grown the organisation to include the AdColor Diversity Summit, AdColor University to train people working in the industry, and AdColor Futures to train and inspire up-and-coming leaders of the industry.
Later on, I met with Maya Iwata, the Director of Development at Race Forward. I really admire this organisation, which takes a very evidence-based and mature approach to racial justice. Their main areas of work are research, publishing the very popular Colorlines online journal, and training for racial justice. Race Forward’s report on Moving the Race Conversation Forward analysing the mainstream media’s reportage on race issues is a must-read. They also present Facing Race a biennial national conference, which is the largest multi-racial and inter-generational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders.
I also met with Sandy Bernabei from the Anti-Racism Alliance which is a New York grassroots movement for racial equity, and is the local organising arm of group of the national organisation Peoples’ Institute for Survival and Beyond. Sandy highlighted the importance of training activists before they begin organising so that every activist understands the country’s history and has a basis for action.
So later this week I will be meeting with Jessie Daniels. Jessie is one of the founders and authors behind Racism Review, another fantastic online journal about race and racism. Jessie also wrote the book “Cyber Racism” which explains how white supremacists use the internet to spread messages of racial hate and offers ideas for countering this.
There are many more amazing racial justice organisations in the United States, but unfortunately this leg of my trip is about to come to an end. At the end of this week I will be travelling to London where I hope to learn more about how British and European organisations effectively address racism. More soon!