Last week I attended an exciting annual White Privilege Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. There were something like 1100 academics, other scholars, anti-racism activists, and ordinary citizens of all racial and ethnic groups, all ages and genders, and various other diversity segments of the U.S. population. It was an exciting and informative conference, with lots of practical and praxis sessions on racism research and teaching, and much discussion of and data on anti-racist activism and organization.
Next is the preliminary statement for this year’s conference, which was sponsored and/or hosted by several organizations, including the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs’ (UCCS) Matrix Center, Goddard College, and the Social Justice Education Program at University of Massachusetts (Amherst). The questions in the preliminary statement below were substantially fulfilled, so far as I could tell:
The UCCS Matrix Center’s WPC9, “Critical Liberation Praxis” will examine and create practice that focuses on our goals, where we are going (liberation), rather than where we are coming from (privilege and oppression). Moving forward from focusing on what we are fighting against, WPC9 will provide a forum to examine what we are fighting for, and how to get there. How do we understand the intersections of race with gender, sexual identity, class, and other systems of inequality as they shape this struggle? How do we cultivate allies? How do we move forward? What does Critical Liberation Praxis/Practice look like?
Next is the more general statement about these conferences, whose founder and key leader is Eddie Moore, Jr.. They have been sponsored by several local universities and other important groups now for nine years:
The annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy and oppression. WPC provides a forum for critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion and other systems of privilege/oppression. WPC is recognized as a challenging, empowering and educational experience. The workshops, keynotes and institutes not only inform participants, but engage and challenge them, while providing practical tips and strategies for combating inequality. The WPC is pleased to announce the initiation of the WPC Youth Leadership Conference!
The conference participants and presenters include corporate and non-profit community members, students, educators, activists, musicians and artists. This conference is not about beating up on white folks. This conference is about critically examining the society in which we live and working to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, privilege and oppression.
Next year’s conference will be April 1-4, 2009, at the Hilton Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee (see here), and I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in meeting many like-minded scholars and activists working on “race,” racism, and anti-racism issues.