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Happenings, book reviews, new publications, upcoming events, the latest from the blog and more.
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HCG is a broad-based group of trainers, teachers and experts from multiple disciplines committed to deep diversity, equity and social justice. The purpose of our newsletter is to share what we're up to and to highlight resources, organizations and folks in the struggle working for a more equitable and healthy world. We are so thankful to be in community with you and  welcome your feedback.  If you have content you would like to share with our online learning community of over 1000 people, please send it our way.

“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.”  ―
bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
Table of Contents
  • HCG Highlight - Heather Hackman talks with Teach For America about education as a practice of freedom.
  • Featured Upcoming HCG Presentations & Events - A few highlights of what's coming up.
  • Featured Organization - Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation
  • Conferences & Events We Support - A list of recommendations for upcoming conferences focused on racial, economic, social, environmental and food justice.
  • Recommended Resources - Videos, blog posts, current research or other links we've learned from and liked recently! Let us know if you have something to add, or like our HCG Facebook page for more of this kind of content.
  • Book Review - "Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond" by Mark Lamont Hill, reviewed by Dr. Heather Hackman
  • Climate Change Corner - "Climate Justice Intentions for 2017 & the Trump Era" with guest writer Indrani Singh
  • Training Tidbit - "Oh, Lorde: Inspirations for Anti-Racist Educators in the Trump Era" with guest writer Maria Graver
  • Blog Update - VLOG with Dr. Heather Hackman, "Key Considerations for Folks in the Climate Justice Movement"
HCG HIGHLIGHT
Education as a Practice of Freedom

In this video, Dr. Hackman discusses with Teach for America, California Capital Valley how we might amplify education as a practice of freedom. She unpacks three key components; the need for more critical inquiry, more analysis of systems and history, and the centering of compassion in the dispositions that we nurture in our classrooms.
7:35
©Hackman Consulting Group, 2017

Featured Upcoming HCG Presentations & Conference Workshops
 
Black History Month kick-off presentation

Dr. Stephen Nelson

Gallaudet University
Washington, DC

Feb 2, 2017
“Exploring the Role of White Privilege in Teacher Preparation and Classroom Pedagogy”

A new training series through the West Metro Education Program’s Cultural Collaborative. The training will consist of four, 2-hour sessions/month exploring Whiteness and teacher preparation and classroom pedagogy.
February-May, 2017
Featured Organization
Race Forward advances racial justice through research, media, and practice. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice. Race Forward's mission is to build awareness, solutions, and leadership for racial justice by generating transformative ideas, information, and experiences. They define racial justice as the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.  Race Forward works to advance racial justice through media, research, and leadership development.
Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation
Conferences & Events We Support
Creating Change Conference
January 18-22, 2017 in Philadelphia, PA

Open Engagement Conference
April 21-23, 2017 in Chicago, IL

National Summit for Educational Equity
"Reach Greater Heights with Access, Equity, and Diversity"
April 24-27 in Arlington, VA
Dr. Hackman presents the lunch keynote on April 25

White Privilege Conference 18   
"Organizing. Strategizing.Taking Action. Deconstructing the Culture of White Supremacy and Privilege: Creating Peace, Equity and Opportunity in the Heartland"
April 27-30, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri
Dr. Hackman is offering a day-long pre-conference institute,
"Post-Traumatic Master's Syndrome: An Exploration of Whiteness as Trauma and Embodied Racial Justice"
Conference Workshop, "The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Dismantling Race, Racism and Whiteness and Achieving Racial Justice," and
Pre-Conference Institute and Workshops, "Know Racial Justice, Know Climate Justice: Why Getting to Climate and Environmental Justice Demands a Dismantling of Whiteness."

National Conference on Race and Ethnicity
May 30 - June 3, 2017 in Ft. Worth, Texas
Dr. Hackman is offering a pre-conference institute,
"The Body Already Knows: A Framework for Dismantling Race, Racism and Whiteness and Achieving Racial Justice"
Dr. Hackman & Jorge Zeballos are offering a workshop, "Are We There Yet?: The Complex Journey Toward Institutional Transformation"

6th National Conference on Community and Restorative Justice
June 16-18, 2017 in Oakland, CA

Students for Zero Waste Conference
November 3-4, 2017 in Philadelphia, PA

Community Food Systems Conference
December 5-7, 2017 in Boston, MA
Recommended Resources
Like our facebook page and check out fresh resources on the regular!
Fortification is a podcast about the spiritual lives and sustenance of leaders in social justice movements. Movements for justice are expanding and shifting around us. We must take care of each other and ourselves in these times of resistance and backlash. Organizer Elandria Williams uses the language of political and spiritual ‘fortification’ as a key need of justice seekers, activists and spiritually-rooted organizers at this time. Listen to Caitlin Breedlove (Campaign Director of Standing on the Side of Love), movement leaders and activists grapple with the tough questions.
The Science of Creating a Compassionate World: 10 Best Books of 2016

2016's most thought-provoking, important, or useful nonfiction books on empathy, kindness, and moving the conversation forward.

Special Report: How to Get Away With Harassing, Firing or Never Even Hiring a Trans Worker of Color

A landmark federal lawsuit effectively outlawed work discrimination
against transgender people four years ago.
So why are trans employees of color still catching so much hell?
A special report by Sarah Jaffe

8 Ways to Fight Anti-Trans Bias on the Job

Words by Ayana Byrd. Illustrations by Tatiana Lam

DAPL RESOURCES
Stay updated with
Democracy Now's continuing coverage
"Prayer for White Allies"
by Aurora Levins Morales
Robert Reich: 12 Ways to Resist Trump That Only Take an Hour a Day
13th, a Netflix documentary from Ava DuVernay, examines the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery, "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted," and the mass incarceration that followed.

How the Stress of Racism Affects Learning

A new study shows that the pressures associated with discrimination contribute to the achievement gap.

"How Teachers Learn to Discuss Racism: urban education programs prepare them for imperative contemporary conversations with students" The Atlantic 1/9/17
Photo: Yi Jie in Jiu-liang Wang’s documentary “Plastic China,” part of the Sundance Film Festival. Credit Jiu-liang Wang, via Sundance Institute
 
Book Review
NOBODY
Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond

Mark Lamont Hill
Atria Books
2016
Reviewer: Dr. Heather Hackman

Marc Lamont Hill’s Nobody is a powerhouse. It is at once informative, heartbreaking, infuriating, and compels one to want to act. In the way Michelle Alexander deftly exposes the racism within the entirety of the criminal justice system, Hill exposes multiple racist systems, most prominently the criminal justice system, and subsequent impacts on People of Color / Native peoples specifically and U.S. society more generally. In direct contradiction to the superficial manner in which mainstream, corporate media have covered the cases of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and others racially targeted by U.S. systems (education, criminal justice, etc.), Hill provides deep history and intimate background content of each person and the communities they lived in. For example, by presenting a century of racist housing policy which then deeply informed educational access and the employment opportunities that arose from that access (or lack thereof), the reader has a fundamentally different understanding of the murder of Michael Brown and the events leading up to the protests in Ferguson, MO. In ways that humanize the most publicized cases of racist, classist and misogynist violence in this country, Hill casts a very different tone over the events of the last handful of years – one that simultaneously affords the reader both a conceptual clarity and a deeper grief. Through his detailed exposé, Hill underscores again and again that it is not enough to simply “know” that these events happened, and it is certainly insufficient to write these events off as the result  of a few bad apples within systems that are viewed as generally benign. Rather, Hill asserts that true (read, deep and broad) change can only come from knowing the historic, social, political and economic antecedents of each of the events highlighted. In that way the reader is not only moved to act, but has a clearer notion of where in the system to act and how best to apply the pressure for change. And this is the main strength of this book – it’s comprehensive historic, political, economic and social attention to  the stories this nation has superficially perseverated on for the last five years.
 
In a writing style that is both accessible and complex, Dr. Hill extends Dr. Alexander’s (and more recently Ms. Ava Duvernay’s) attention to the criminal justice system by examining examples that fall outside of that arena, such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the economic results of unregulated, free market capitalism, or the ways violent masculinity and male cisgender socialization intersect with White supremacy. Some could argue that Dr. Hill has bitten off a bit more than he can chew in a book that is only 184 pages, but 52 pages of notes buttress this balance of accessibility and complexity and place the onus on those who “disagree” to support and defend their claims. Hill is one of today’s most respected public intellectuals and this book is a perfect read for anyone who is looking to better understand, and in turn be able to explain, this racial moment in the U.S.  I recommend this book for that purpose. However, if you are looking for a piece that helps you consider how to effectively and strategically move through this current moment and build a socially just society wherein we all can live without the specter of racial oppression dogging our heels, this is not quite the book for you. Last year I reviewed Tim Wise’s Under the Affluence and while I again recommended the book, I also wondered why Tim left so few pages to his thoughts about moving forward. Similarly, Hill provides a skillful analysis of what has led us to this racial and economic moment, but then closes the book with only three and a half pages entitled “Somebody”, where he simply lists a handful of the significant and influential movements that have arisen in the last handful of years. While analysis is desperately and definitely necessary, visionary leaders such as Dr. Hill also have to provide a vision that need not include White Liberalism’s need for happy endings. I’m asking for this because as much as we need to speak truth to power right now, we also need to speak vision to despair. Thirty-six hours after the 2016 presidential election I attended the Race Forward Conference where there was no dearth of critique of the various systems of racial, gender, economic, sexual, religious, ability, and age oppression (to name a few). But, and this felt critically important, there was also no lack of vision and strategy and positioning for a better organized future. And this is what I think this book, and so many like it, lack. I do not need my hand held, what I do need is a cohesive and coherent positioning, or perhaps re-positioning, of who we can be as a nation. There are intimations of that throughout this book, but if you are going to close the book with a chapter entitled “Somebody”, then expound on the critical and liberatory nature of what it means to be somebody – what does it mean to claim various change elements like space, or one’s body, or a radical agenda, or the centering of racial and gender and economic justice, or simply (but not naively) peace. I think there is a reason Michelle Alexander posted on her FB page a while back that she was heading to Union Theological in NYC because (and I am badly summarizing here) social change requires not only the transformation of this nation’s systems, but a transformation of this nation’s moral compass and its “spiritual” (read generally) core. We cannot have structural change without a change of consciousness to accompany and execute that change.
 
While I am deeply grateful of Marc Lamont Hill’s exposé of the economic, political, and social realities facing the most vulnerable in this society, I am hungry for a balance of analysis and vision. Again, I long for this not because some White, cisgender, middle class “sensibility” in me wants to “see the positive”, but because in this new “era of Trump” we need radical imagination as much as we need radical contestation. Having said this, I still recommend this book and ask that you buy it, read it, make notes all over it, share it with others… but then, gather to not only discuss what can be done, but how your hearts can be moved to do it. For POC/N folks in this society, nothing in this book is new and yet it is still a good teaching tool. For White U.S.ers, whether the content is new or not, it is presented in such a manner that the inescapable truth of the need for deep and dramatic change cannot be avoided and thus it can be a tool for us in our communities as well. As I read it, I kept asking myself, “Based on what I am reading, the deep changes I need to make in how I daily live my life are…” That is the intention I can set for 2017 – don’t just change, but make the types of changes that will most strongly correlate to the liberation of everyone from these systems. Marc Lamont Hill’s analysis of the systems that have conspired to constantly assail this nation’s most vulnerable has helped me assess the places that need to change more clearly. I am certain it will for others who read it as well.
Climate Change Corner
"Climate Justice Intentions for 2017 and the Trump Era"
by Indrani Singh
 
Like many of us, I was sent into a state of shock, disbelief, and denial after the results of the 2016 US elections. As an immigrant denied the right to vote, I might have limited agency, but that opens the space for a more detached observation of my own reactions and interactions with and amongst others. After some time I just couldn’t bring myself to spaces that were discussing the election or what we can do in a Trump era. I felt emotionally drained from sitting with our collective grief, anger, and pain. From the initial state of shock I moved into disbelief and denial. Everything was going to be okay. Somehow we will figure things out. Trump can’t be president forever. But one obvious and simple line in my newsfeed shattered that denial; climate change is irreversible.
        
In early December I tested my strength and patience by attending a panel discussion with leaders from four local activist organizations. As I sat waiting for the discussion to start, I surveyed the audience of more than a hundred people. After the first appraisal, I found myself consciously counting the number of people of color in the church pews; I counted twelve. As the discussion moved to a question and answer session, there were several desperate people seeking direction on how to best spend their time, money and energy. My strength and patience stores went into low power mode halfway through the questions. I left the event early perhaps because the desperation I heard mirrored my own as I search for direction in this surreal reality. As I walked into my apartment I realized that part of my discomfort stemmed from that fact that this was primarily a group of older White people looking for a quick to-do list that would make their pain go away. At first this may seem like a harsh assessment of what took place that evening, but if we’re truly going to heal our pain, then it’s essential to look at the ways race-based oppression shows up in our actions and interactions. And not just in spaces of climate justice, but in all spaces. As Bani Amor says, “if we’re going to protect the sacred and prepare for the worst, we must look at the environmental effects of white supremacy”. The planet we live on is scared, every person we share the planet with is sacred, and every interaction we have with each other is also sacred.
We often live in a state of stupor or helplessness. I myself have struggled to find my path and to know where my energy and life work are best invested. So who am I to be so critical of others with the same struggle looking for the same meaning and effectiveness in their actions? Our collective urgency for answers is bubbling up more fiercely and I have no magical or singular answers and doubt that they exist. But I would like to share three thoughts that have resonated with me the past few weeks of this new Gregorian year of 2017. 1.) an invitation to set long-term intentions, 2.) the implications of US individualism, and 3.) a poem by Martha Postlewait.
 
1. Long-term intentions: The start of a new year often comes with new resolutions for me, some more successful than others. Jack Kornfield asks us to consider long-term intentions, something that we might consider as a vow or dedication for our lifetime. He suggests “setting a long-term intention is like setting the compass of the heart”. In the past, my new year’s resolutions rarely looked past a few years, but unlike my usual struggle finding direction, it was much easier to come up with a long-term intention. Kornfield also reminds us that it is easy to compare our vows or dedications to those of others, which can make us question what we’re doing and whether we’re doing enough, which can bring up feelings of guilt or self-doubt. In his book The Wise Heart, Kornfield shares the story of a busy city school principal who uses her valuable free time and resources to make sandwiches for those in need and distributes them around the neighborhood. Her generosity caught the attention of the media and soon she was a bit of a celebrity. Teachers and others at her school began sending her money to support her efforts, but she returned everyone’s gifts with a simple note, “Make your own damn sandwiches”. And so, as we set our intentions and search for places to spend our time and energy, let us remember to invest in our own sandwiches, the ones that mean the most to us, that we need to find within ourselves, and not those that we might find from looking to others for direction and inspiration.
 
2. Valuing individualism in the US: As I sat through the panel discussion I mentioned above, one of the panelists shared personal experiences from various activist movements in Latin America. What struck me as he narrated his experiences was the way in which people acted collectively. I wondered how the effectiveness of the tactics and approaches he shared depended on a strong value of community and how that might look different in the US where individualism is a deeply held value.  How does my dilemma of where I should spend my singular resources change if I am to think of those resources as part of the collective to begin with? Is it really fair for me to have complete agency of where they will be spent, and how they can be most effective?
 
3. Clearing, By Martha Postlewait
 
              Do not try to save
              the whole world
              or do anything grandiose.
              Instead, create a clearing
              in the dense forest of your life
              and wait there
              patiently,
              until the song
              that is your life
              falls into your own cupped hands
              and you recognize and greet it.
              Only then will you know
              how to give yourself
              to this world
              so worth of rescue.
 
We are after all human, so for those moments where we need a list to give us direction, I hope this may help:

(i.) Who is involved in your climate justice actions? Take a look around
     the room and notice who may not be present at the table.
(ii) Take a back seat in a meeting or conversation and notice how
     different identities based on class, gender and race show up in
     interactions. For example, notice how air time is distributed? Who
     gets to talk multiple times and who doesn’t talk at all? Who
     interrupts and who is interrupted?
(iii) When you feel a resistance to change, perhaps explore how your
     needs may be shaped by individualism, and perhaps how a shift to a
     collective view may influence how you feel.
(iv) When we feel the need to maximize our impact, perhaps
     explore what is giving rise to that need -  is it coming from a sense of
     efficiency, or a sense of ego to have the greatest/noteworthy impact,
     or perhaps from a sense of guilt or self-doubt?
(v) Am I following somebody else’s song or my own? i.e. am I making
     my own sandwiches or somebody else’s?
 
Additional Resources:

The Biggest Environmental Justice Wins of 2016

 Series of articles by Bani Amor, Writer-in-Residence with Bitch Media
  1. Least Convenient Truth: Climate Change and White Supremacy
  2. A Country Within a Country: On Climate Change, Privilege, and Disaster Survival
  3. A Vacation is Not Activism: On Tourism and Ecosocial Disasters
  4. Misogynoir and Climate Change: How Disaster Relief Fails Black Women
10 Indigenous and Environmental Struggles—And How You Can Help in 2017

We Should Still Be Talking About Flint A Year Later
 
This Is What the Resistance Sounds Like
"...create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands..."
excerpt from Clearing, by Postlewait

Photograph by Sonia Keiner
Displayed at "Cornucopia: Food for Thought from Female Artists"
National Juried Exhibition, Washington School of Photography Gallery, 2011
Training Tidbit
"Oh, Lorde...: Inspirations for Anti-Racist Educators in the Trump Era"
By Maria Graver

I don't know about you, but I made my resolutions a little early this year – 53 days early, to be exact. Yep, I woke up on November 9th, blinked into the darkness through tear-thickened eye crust, willed myself to rise despite the crushing weight on my chest, and resolved to keep my students and families as safe as possible throughout an impending Trump presidency.  
 
Let's be clear, I was – and remain – terrified. Sometimes, on my early morning drives to school, I can't even make it through NPR's recap of our president-elect's most recent ridiculousness. Those are my "Oh, Lorde" moments. One of my all-time heroes, Audre Lorde's (1934-1992) words have ushered me through some tough times: “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Now, as an educational leader committed to racial equity and social justice, those words are more salient to me than they have ever been. 
 
You see, regardless of the fact that we are looking down the barrel of four solid years of policy regression and active dismantling of civil rights, our work as antiracist educators does not change; and our daily commitment to challenging the role and presence of institutional racism in our schools cannot falter. We must all continue to rise, rub the sleep from our eyes and meet each day committed to protecting the physical and psychosocial safety of our most vulnerable demographics.  
 
Part of this commitment is a tacit acknowledgement of the visceral urgency and emotionally taxing nature of our work. This next chapter of United States history will require the constant and stalwart subversion of what is shaping up to be an asinine administration. This means that we must intentionally and carefully build broad-based interracial, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual coalitions of students, families, faculty, and staff. Because, let's be honest, if we want to survive the next four years while effecting change, we're going to need to lean on one another. This means finding common ground, setting aside our personal norms, and taking the time to build authentic relationships with our students, families, and each other.  
 
Antiracist White educators, now is the time when we need you the most. We need you to consistently go above and beyond in your efforts to create spaces of comfort and trust for marginalized groups. We need you to lean hard into the disequilibrium. Speak out and speak up on behalf of the needs and groups that the incoming president is bent on silencing, even when it might be infinitely easier not to. We need you to recognize that –for our immigrant, indigenous, Latinx, African American, Muslim, refugee, and impoverished families – daily life in these United States is going from treacherous to endangered. 
 
Please don’t forget that, amidst all of this – and working directly against impending national educational structures and systems – we must leverage our coalitions to effect measurable change in academic outcomes for our indigenous students and students of color. Quantitative data has long told us that the practices and policies in our public education systems are not adequately meeting the needs of the aforementioned groups. Qualitative data would tell us the same thing. Despite the political perversions that we will doubtlessly encounter during a Trump presidency, things have got to change. We have decades of data obviating a now-predictable racialized achievement gap, a gap monetary wealth does not bridge. Students and families change within that data; but the data does not change. That's a strong indicator that it's not the kids, it's the system...and the way that system was built to work is no mistake. 
 
In the United States, our public education system was created to educate the proletariat in a white democracy, to serve white children, and to replicate the norms of whiteness. Despite the diversity – racial, ethnic, and lingual - that is and has been present in our nation's desegregated public schools for seventy odd years, the original premise hasn't changed too much in the centuries since public education was born.  
 
A few quick questions about teacher education will help to illustrate what I'm getting at: How many of your professors asked you to contemplate and/or solidify your racial equity purpose? Why were classes that led with the words "Multicultural" and/or "Native American" separate as opposed to implicit and omnipresent throughout your pre-service training? What subliminal messages does this communicate to us about what is important in our work as educators? 
 
What if - as we built relationships with our students, families, and colleagues - we held ourselves to the daily goal of personal constructivism – metacognitively acknowledging our media-fed preconceived racialized ideas and honestly reflecting on how these ideas influence our perceptions, and thereby our work? What if, in addition to meeting students where they are academically, we unfailingly met students where they are socially?  What if we allowed ourselves the freedom to value and assess students qualitatively as regularly as we assess them quantitatively? How might this change the way our students and families experience school? How might this change the way that we experience our students and families? How might this change the almighty data cycle and begin to close the opportunity gap? 
 
I realize that pondering all of this might be daunting and a bit disheartening. So, here’s the reassuring part: We can do this. Even in the orange-tinted shadow of a Trump presidency, change is possible. If we consistently consider these questions, themes, and ideas, our daily practice begins to change. The tenor of our interactions, instruction, and assessment begins to change. The conversations we have with our students, families, and colleagues, begin to change. We begin to change.  

And change we must. Make no mistake, being an antiracist educator just got appreciably more crucial. Speaking truth to power requires a titanium backbone. Do it anyway. Dare to be powerful, to use your strength in the service of your vision. Then, it will become less and less important whether or not you are afraid, right? 

Right.  

You and I both know that it's what Audre Lorde would want.
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