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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 - "Racial Justice as a Spiritual Imperative" An overview of Dr. Rev. Jamie Washington and Dr. Heather Hackman's pre-conference session at White Privilege Conference 17.
  • Featured Upcoming HCG Presentations & Events - A few highlights of what's coming up.
  • Additional HCG Presentations - Where you can find HCG trainers in the coming months.
  • Featured Organization - Indigenous Environmental Network
  • 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 White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race,  Haney Lopez, I. (2012). New York: NYU Press. Reviewed by Heather Hackman
  • Climate Change Corner - "The Nation That Destroys Its Soil Destroys Itself" - Sonia Keiner discusses weather, food, water and oppression.
  • Training Tidbit - "The Privilege of Coaching: Structuring in Accountability and Challenge" by Kate Eubank
  • Blog Update - "Resiliency in the Face of Ruin" by Sonia Keiner
Racial Justice as a Spiritual Imperative

In this video, Dr. Heather Hackman discusses a pre-conference session she and Dr. Rev. Jamie Washington conducted together at White Privilege Conference 17 this past April. Racial justice needs a spiritual source (defined broadly) and our spiritual practices need racial justice. How can our work deepen through a congruent alignment between our spiritual work and our work for racial justice?

Filmed and Edited by Sonia Keiner ©2016

Featured Upcoming HCG Presentations & Conference Workshops

Dr. Stepen Nelson will be presenting a workshop at this year's Overcoming Racism Conference

“Chipping Away at the Edifice: Disrupting Racism at your Institution”

October 29, 2016
- 2:00PM

Panel: “Exploring the Confluence of Race, Class and Gender Issues and Our Campus Sustainability Work”

Dr. Hackman and Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish (UC Boulder) will be conducting a panel session at the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education 2016 Conference & Expo

October 10 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Dr. Hackman will be presenting the Social Justice & Equity track at the
Social Venture Partners International Conference

Attendance at this conference is open to Social Venture Partners organizations and members.

Oct. 20 - 22, 2016
Additional HCG Presentations
Racism in Medicine
October 3, 2016 @ 1:30-2:30 PM
Allina Health Equity Action & Learning Collaborative
Presenter: Dr. Stephen Nelson

West Chester University Campus Keynote
October 6, 2016
Presenter: Dr. Heather Hackman

Developing and Implementing a Critical Social Justice Lens for 21st Century Campus Sustainability Work
October 9, 2016 @ 8:30AM-4:30PM
American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education
2016 Conference & Expo

Presenter: Dr. Heather Hackman

“Exploring the Confluence of Race, Class and Gender Issues and Our Campus Sustainability Work” Panel Discussion
October 10 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education
2016 Conference & Expo

Moderators: Dr. Hackman and Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish (UC Boulder)
Featured Organization
Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities. IEN accomplishes this by maintaining an informational clearinghouse, organizing campaigns, direct actions and public awareness, building the capacity of community and tribes to address EJ issues, development of initiatives to impact policy, and building alliances among Indigenous communities, tribes, inter-tribal and Indigenous organizations, people-of-color/ethnic organizations, faith-based and women groups, youth, labor, environmental organizations and others. IEN convenes local, regional and national meetings on environmental and economic justice issues, and provides support, resources and referral to Indigenous communities and youth throughout primarily North America – and in recent years – globally.

An Open Letter to President Obama: Halt Construction and Repeal Permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline Project

Additional Conferences & Events We Support
White Privilege Symposium / New England
Beyond Diversity and Inclusion: Mobilizing Across Boundaries
October 14-15, 2016
Lesley University in Cambridge, MA

MN-NAME Insisting on Equity Conference
October 15, 2016 in St. Paul, MN

14th Annual It's Time to Talk: Forums on Race
October 18, 2016
Minneapolis Convention Center
Overcoming Racism Conference: Disrupt Racism As Usual
October 28-29, 2016 at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul

Facing Race Conference
Organized by Race Forward
November 10-12, 2016 in Atlanta, GA

Growing Power’s Urban and Small Farms Conference
“Let’s Scale It Up! Growing Food and Farmers: Best Practices in Growing, Distribution and Community Building.”
November 18-20, 2016 in Milwaukee, WI

NAIS People of Color Conference
"Advancing Human & Civil Rights - Fulfilling the Dream Together"
December 8-10 in Atlanta, GA
Recommended Resources
Like our facebook page and check out fresh resources on the regular!
A Documentary on Hope, Love, and Beauty in Ferguson
Mobolaji Olambiwonnu hopes his new film on the killing of Michael Brown will bring healing, dignity, and investment to Black communities affected by police violence.

Where do you find hope? What do you love? What do you find beautiful?
Equipped with these three questions, filmmaker Mobolaji Olambiwonnu packed up his gear and flew from California to Ferguson, Missouri. Just days before, on November 24, 2014, a grand jury had exonerated police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed African American teenager Michael Brown, of any criminal charges.
WATCH: How to Handle Trolls on the Topic of Black Lives Matter Franchesca Ramsey’s latest “Decoded” video will help you get those fools all the way together.
In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda. Click here to read the platform of the The Movement for Black Lives.
A Democracy Now! interview at the Standing Rock standoff with Winona LaDuke, longtime Native American activist and Executive Director of
Honor the Earth.
Life Got Better Under Obama, According to Gallup. Analysis attempts to understand how American well-being has changed during the Obama presidency.
A documentary by the director of GASLAND.
Read the NY Times Review
The DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services announced that it will require local police agencies to follow a new rubric if they want to receive federal funding for the hiring of school resource officers. The rubric is called the Safe School-based Enforcement through Collaboration, Understanding, and Respect.
A Back-To-School Advisory: K-12 Schools Must Address Sexual Violence, Huffington Post 9/7/16
Book Review
Haney Lopez, I. (2012).

White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: New York University Press

Reviewer: Dr. Heather Hackman
So this is not so much a “review” as it is simply a recommendation. Many of you have already read this book, and perhaps even teach it in your courses. The 10th anniversary (second) edition published in 2012 retains the powerful base of Haney Lopez’s writing from the original but extends that analysis to more recent years and includes a deeper exploration of the use of “colorblindness” as a means for the maintenance of White Supremacy and systemic racial oppression in the U.S. At times running parallel to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow with respect to its analysis of the contemporary impacts of various Supreme Court rulings, the book offers up a poignant commentary of the ways that laws have parsed and spliced and doubled back on themselves in order to make the moving target of race in this country stand still long enough to repeatedly buttress the power of White folks at the expense of Native people and People of Color. And this is exactly why I am not reviewing a newer book – in this particular political moment with so much vitriol, fear, hatred, and explicit violence proffered as mainstream political discourse, it seems even more necessary than before that we know our history, know our law, and thereby know the truth regarding the specter of Race in the U.S. Without this knowledge, there is no way to sort through the endless stream of race-based and violent commentary.
The first value of Haney Lopez’s work is its exposition of history with respect to Race. I teach, train, talk or consult on Race, Racism and Whiteness roughly 100 times a year and one of the most consistent dynamics in those trainings is participants’ lack of historic knowledge. To be sure there is a lot of information presented as historic knowledge, but very little of it is true, grounded in a critical frame, or even relevant with respect to the realities of Race in the U.S. In fact, much of what most of those educated in the U.S. P-12 system have learned, especially White folks, is patently false, leading many to draw fallacious conclusions about Race. One of the most powerful and sweeping mistakes is the assumption that “Race has been around forever”. This seemingly simple notion has several dire consequences for Racial Equity education. First, it serves to make Race, and by implication racial divisions, “innate human processes of social formation” rather than the result of systems and structures connected to power and resources, From this erroneous assumption one can then even suggest that it is “human nature for these divisions to exist” and that we should not try to dismantle them nor should we seek to go against what appears to be their natural outcome – people living, working, and going to school among their own (racial) kind. Thus, this line of reasoning goes, “any attempts at racial desegregation go against human dynamics that have been in place for millennia”. And finally, this baseless assumption dovetails into the claims of scientific racism and implies that there might even be some fundamental, biological source of racial difference, making these racial divisions not just part of the social order of things, but a core physiological essence of our species.
All of this gets debunked swiftly and clearly by the repeated evidence in the book that Race is a creation by those in power with a specific purpose - to organize institutional and cultural power via the determination of who is legally human, citizen and worthy of rights in the United States and who is not. Haney Lopez helps us understand the precarious place a clear definition of Race has had in our history. As he demonstrates, while the content of the racial categories in the U.S. has shifted at times, the purpose of the categories themselves have never lost their meaning – to differentiate between those who have access to resources in this country and those who are barred from such access. Haney Lopez’s historical content is therefore invaluable in explicating the true purpose of Race and helps the reader understand more clearly what this current racial moment is really about with respect to power, privilege and access to life-giving resources.
The second primary area where this book sheds light on our current political moment is in the area of law. You do not have to be a lawyer to deeply appreciate how clearly Haney Lopez explains the role law plays and has played in giving real meaning to Race. To demonstrate this in my trainings, I often quickly divide the group into “green” and “purple” and then say “you all are now green, and you all are now purple”. I note that there was no response from them about such a division. I then imbue each group with a particular meaning, or story of their racial group, “green people are wonderful, smart, kind, and strong leaders while purple are slow, lethargic, unmotivated and shy away from work”. Still, there is rarely a reaction. And then I say, “and by law, therefore, I will only hire green people, only green people may own property, only green people can vote, etc. and purple people, by law, may have none of those rights or privileges.” Suddenly being green or purple matters. The law is what created the infrastructure to afford or deny resources simply based on the social marker of skin color. Only the law was capable of making such sweeping decisions for entire groups of people. Thus it was the legal system that gave teeth to this racial structure. That is not to say that some wouldn’t have still used these created categories to spew hate, but that is not the same as having the legal, institutional and structural capacity to alter the life of entire groups of people in perpetuity.
Knowing this, then, it is much easier to understand what “Make American Great Again” means for so many White supporters of Donald Trump. I was listening to a National Public Radio Report recently where some Trump supporters in Las Vegas, NV were interviewed about his apparent (and significant) change in tack regarding immigration. In particular I was struck by two different people (a man and a woman) who both articulated the position that no matter what Mr. Trump does, they will vote for him. This seems ludicrous until one understands that it is not the short game these folks are playing – it is the long game of going back to an overall policy (and legal) framework that benefits White folks. And thus if Mr. Trump needs to retreat on his earlier aggressive positions on immigration to win a few more votes, these folks rest assured in the notion that overall he will use his power and position to return this nation to a legal / political (and thereby social) structure that will strongly favor the economic and personal interests of White folks. It seems absurd until one realizes that it is the law / political arena that actually created the meaning of Race through the resource-based consequences it doled out. Only then can we understand why such appalling rhetoric is “tolerable” to some supporters of Mr. Trump – they see a bigger picture of legal and political realignment and that is what they are voting for.
A final plug for Mr. Haney Lopez’s book is that is exposes the ignorance and harm caused by using a “colorblind” approach to racial issues in this country. “Black Lives Matter” rubs everyday White people the wrong way for many reasons, but one reason is surely that it names what so many “nice” White folks never want to name – Race. Colorblindness, just like the term “diversity”, takes the substance out of the conversation of Race and thus makes those who do name Race as the “trouble-makers” and “instigators” of racial divisions. That is not a new tactic, it has simply been refined and made more problematic by this nation’s love of a colorblind approach to politics, education and media representation.
For the above reasons, those looking for ways to have a different conversation about U.S. history, politics, and power regarding Race should pick up this book, despite it being four years old. It is a relatively easy read and offers depth, breadth and useful sound bites to racial conversations. In addition, I recommend watching Haney Lopez’s closing plenary talk from the 2014 Facing Race Conference. He is the first of three speakers and if possible, please listen also to Van Jones and Rinku Sen whose talks follow his. He also wrote Dog Whistle Politics in 2015, which addresses the use of coded racial language to foment racist policies and social responses. It is reasonable to wonder why I did not review this book – my belief is that without a substantial base of history and law, it is less possible to take advantage of his framework in Dog Whistle Politics. Thus, I recommend reading White By Law first. If you are interested, however, the Democracy Now interview regarding Dog Whistle Politics can be found here. Overall, the presence of Haney Lopez’s voice amidst other critical race scholars makes our work as racial justice activists, especially in this political moment, more substantial and ultimately more powerful.
Climate Change Corner
“The Nation That Destroys Its Soil Destroys Itself”
by Sonia E. Keiner
Brian Barth wrote an excellent article in Modern Farmer about the impact of Louisiana floods on small farmers and local food systems last month. It’s the only article I found on the web addressing many of the questions I had about the state of food in Louisiana in the wake of recent flooding. Louisiana is no stranger to weather disasters since Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav and Isaac. But the low-pressure system that dumped 31 inches on southern Louisiana in August was quite different.  Farmer, Brian Gotreaux, who lost 99% of his crops, says this is the 6th time in the last year that his farm has flooded.  The only other time there was even a minor flood was 1993, “this isn’t a flood area, really. It’s funny that a farmer would have to go on food stamps.” NOAA scientists and other climate scientists agree global warming makes it at least 40% more likely the U.S. Gulf Coast will be inundated by historic downpours.
There’s nothing funny about an unstable food system though.  According to a preliminary estimate from the LSU AgCenter, agricultural losses from August flooding will total at least $110 million. It appears we have reached the new normal rooted in extremes; extreme heat, extreme precipitation, extreme drought, all of which can wreak havoc on a food system. We have arrived, so to speak, at the precipice and bear witness regularly to the effects of human-fueled climate change. The Gulf Coast has been a canary in the coalmine for the past 15 years.  “Besides full-blown hurricanes, there has been a notable uptick in other major storms along the Gulf; from 2000-2010, 12 tropical cyclones struck Louisiana, more than any other decade in 160 years of record-keeping.  That record is on track to be broken this decade.”
To add insult to injury, while visiting the devastation the Obama administration conducted a massive auction of offshore oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf.  AND they did it in the Superdome, which housed 15,000-20,000 climate refugees after Hurricane Katrina.  “The timing of all these events couldn’t be more devastating,” says journalist and energy analyst Antonia Juhasz, “You have this historic flood.  You have the president there to offer assistance from FEMA and to hopefully try and assist those on the ground, while at the same time the Interior Department is continuing the problems that help accelerate this storm in the first place, help make them more ferocious, help make these storms more frequent.  And that, of course, is the burning of fossil fuels leading to climate change.”  For more visit Democracy Now’s “Climate Change and the 1,000-year Flood in Baton Rouge: When Will We Learn?”

According to Copper Alvarez, ED of a Baton-Rouge-based nonprofit that supports local and regional food systems, USDA disaster-relief programs are generally geared towards large-scale producers and the small farmer can fall through the cracks.  She adds that farmers are experiencing another first, the total loss of topsoil on farms from flooding. In the wake of the dust storms and floods of the 1930’s, FDR sent a letter to all state Governors emphasizing the seriousness of soil erosion and implored States to supplement Federal programs with their own legislation promoting soil erosion control.  Eventually all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands adopted the enabling laws. In the 1950’s, most states amended their state conservation district laws to put more emphasis on water conservation. In the words of FDR, “the nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”  We would do well to heed his warning. 
Protecting our topsoil and our water, the foundation for healthy food and healthy humans, should be top priorities for our government as opposed to the unregulated extraction and “drill, baby, drill” mentality that has prevailed since the first pipeline was laid over 150 years ago in Pennsylvania. Not unlike the current Standing Rock protest/protection in North Dakota (#NODAPL), the first pipeline laid in 1865 by Samuel Van Syckel in Pennsylvania was also met with resistance and sabotage, but for different reasons.  The Teamsters earned their living by transporting oil in old whiskey barrels and a pipeline threatened their job security. Like Dakota Access, LLC, Van Syckel also hired his own armed force to patrol the pipeline and defeated the teamsters; their line of work became obsolete and 500 teamsters were out of a job.  This time it’s not just jobs at stake.  Intersecting issues of healthy water, indigenous sovereignty, cultural preservation and climate adaptation collide, “Climate change is inherently racist,” says Nick Estes, co-founder of activist organization the Red Nation and a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. “The Anthropocene began with fossil fuel extraction, which began with colonization. The rise of temperatures began with the industrial revolution. And the damage was done to ‘expendable people,’ exploiting the labor of black people and the land of indigenous people.”   As part of the colonization process, foodways dramatically shifted as well towards an industrial model, causing a host of health-related disease and environmental destruction.
Our First Nation Tribes have been fighting for their food, water and land sovereignty since Whites began displacing them centuries ago.  Although the Obama administration has requested “that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles” of Lake Oahe as they “reconsider…previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act or other federal laws,” Kelly Hayes writes on Yes! Magazine’s website of her skepticism. “Right now, all that’s being asked [of Dakota Access, LLC] is that they play their part in a short term political performance aimed at letting the air out of a movement’s tires. The reality, of course, is that the vast majority of investigations taken up by the DOJ Civil Rights Division end in dismissal. How many times have marginalized people been offered further discussion when what they needed was substantive action?”
The fight is not over, lost or won yet. The future of food and water depend on our collective action. Let’s hope our next President and Congress have the fortitude to create the change needed and the people continue to hold their feet to the fire.

For the EPA’s analysis of the impact of climate change on Agriculture and Food Supplies, click here.

Check out my blog (linked in blog section below) to read about the recent floods in Maryland and a list of potential solutions for building resiliency in the face of climate change.
Artwork by Favianna Rodriguez, a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence. Rodriguez lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change, and leads art workshops at schools around the country. View her portfolio here.
Training Tidbit
"The Privilege of Coaching: Structuring in Accountability and Challenge"
By Kate Eubank
We’ve been asked to do a lot of coaching at HCG recently – and we’ve also been getting a lot of questions about how to explain the need for something like “social justice coaching” to others. I can understand that. As someone who didn’t participate in team sports much as a youngster, for a long time “coaching” seemed like a mysterious and magical concept to me. And coaching around social justice, or whiteness, or gender equity, what would that even look like?
It took me a while to realize that, while I’ve never had a formal “social justice coach”, there have been a number of thoughtful, wise and patient people who coached and mentored me as I learned (and continue to learn) what it means to center social justice in my life. These people have given me so much. They’ve shared information and insight just when I needed it. They’ve asked questions that opened up whole new areas of thinking to me and helped me avoid making the same mistakes as others before me. They’ve had the hard conversations with me when I acted oppressively or entrenched injustice. And they’ve taken the time to move me through my own resistance when I couldn’t see past it. Each of them has given me the combination of challenge, accountability and support that I needed to shift my thinking, my body, and my actions to get closer to the person I want to be – a person who centers social justice at work, at home, and in my community.
And in thinking about that, it became clear to me that relationships like these are tremendous resources; well-timed gifts as I awakened to the injustices of the world and to my own privilege as a white, middle class cisgender femme. Not all of us come to this journey at a point where there happen to be these kind of relationships available to us. Which is unfortunate, because they are deeply necessary.
They are necessary for all of us, but I’m thinking specifically of those of us with one kind of privilege or another (which, in the end, is almost all of us), who are seeking to resist our own indoctrination and investment in privilege and supremacy so we can take ever-more effective action for equity and justice. We need critical support and constructive accountability. We need people to help us notice what we have learned to ignore, and help us unstick ourselves when our fear and resistance derails our good intentions and thoughtful commitments. We need people to ask the hard question at the right moment, to give us pointers on how we could do it better next time, to point out to us when our behavior diverges from our deep desire to act in service of justice and connection.
We need a way to hard-wire this challenge and accountability into our lives, because part of how oppression and injustice thrives is by making it not just easy but almost imperative for those of us with privilege to ignore or justify it. Which is what I’ve come to as the “why” for social justice coaching. We can and should continue to develop our social justice knowledge and analysis through reading and film and lectures and podcasts. We can and should continue to develop our awareness of our own privilege and our ability to resist the call of supremacy through reflection, practice and self-interrogation. We can and must continue to develop our capacity to take meaningful action for social change by interrupting oppression in our homes and our workplaces, by donating and organizing and demonstrating. And we also must structure into our lives places where we can’t hide. Places where we know we will be called in. Places where we can bring our confusion, our resistance, our fear and our desire to keep doing better, and where we know we can find not just support but loving accountability and challenge.
It certainly doesn’t have to be a “professional” paid coach. There are lots of ways to structure accountability and challenge into our lives – some that cost money, and some that don’t. It can be a “social justice buddy” with whom you have regular check-ins. It can be a mentor who you know has been doing this work for much longer than you. It can be a collective reading and discussion group. But to avoid that slippery tendency of privilege and supremacy to re-center themselves, it is important that it is (a) a regular commitment with focused time dedicated to the work, (b) a relationship that isn’t dependent on everyone “getting along” or “getting it right” (so not a friendship or a work relationship - or else fear of damaging the relationship or damaging reputation will make it hard to dig deep and engage the ugly stuff honestly), and (c) an uneven relationship, where you are learning from someone with more experience tackling these issues than you. Sometimes we have the gift of already having a relationship (or two! or three!) like this in our lives already – but if not, it’s important to find one or put one in place, and coaching is one way to do that.
Blog Update
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