When the YWCA Madison Racial Justice Summit convenes for the 21st time on September 28-30, it’ll feature two full days of virtual experiences followed by a full day of in-person gathering for the first time since 2019. That’ll allow for the resumption of three-hour “Institutes” in addition to sessions, dialogues, a featured art exhibition, pop up market and the rooftop party.
There’s more to it than the schedule, though.
“We always bring these brilliant keynote (speakers) and they lay it out there. We get to experience geniuses talking about racial justice,” said Libby Tucci, a member of YWCA Madison’s race and gender equity team. “And then the question is always like, ‘Okay, how do we process this? How do we integrate this? What does this mean for me beyond this?’ I feel excited about the in-person day being a real opportunity for that; to learn from the brilliance”.
Those speakers include nationally-known activists like Ericka Huggins, adrienne maree brown and United We Dream youth activist Jenifer Garcia-Mendoza, as well as local leaders like Rudy Bankston and Angela Russell.
“Our national keynotes are sharing their wisdom and their offerings. It also feels very important to bring that home in a way that it also honors the people that are in practice, and that are connected to the different sides of justice work here locally and in conversation with each other,” said YWCA Race and Gender Equity Director Geraldine Paredes Vasquez.
Race and Gender Equity Practitioner Faith Stevenson said the team intentionally tries to create a positive space.
“I think sometimes, when we start talking about race and racism, everyone goes directly to the hardest and saddest, most traumatic parts,” Stevenson said. “Not only has all of this been really beautiful, because it’s been very intersectional, very intergenerational, with very different lenses of the world. It’s the way that we go about practicing racial justice that feels really affirming … I’m excited for the summit because it actively pushes me to practice how I am in connection to my body. And I feel like that is something that I’ve missed in a lot of other spaces. I think for so long in actively trying to practice racial justice, I have fallen into making it an intellectual activity. … So much of what we do here is really focuses on the full body experience. How are our physical bodies impacted by systems of racial inequity? I’m super excited for the summit because I get to continue building that muscle..”
For the in-person day this year, the Summit is also featuring national author and practitioner Kelsey Blackwell, who will offer an Institute on Decolonizing the Body for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
This in-person day of the Summit will close with an intergenerational dialogue with local and regional guests to lean into what will it take to disrupt the (mis)understanding of the different dimensions of justice as separate issues, and support an understanding of the kinds of broader movements that need to come together to build a just future. The team said everyone in the community is welcome and encouraged to attend.
“Everyone working through their stuff” should attend, Stevenson said. “Everyone that feels that they want a place to explore some of the ways that racial justice lands on them, and what it would look like to choose a different future for ourselves that doesn’t necessarily depend on this, like, every day living of a brutal system that impacts disability justice, that impacts environmental justice, that impacts racial justice-To be conscious of the fact that like, hey, we could be different. And different in a way that feels like real humanity for everyone. So anybody that wants to eliminate racism and empower women and have dignity and justice for all; Anybody that believes that it is possible, that it is true, that it is real, tangible, and we just haven’t had an opportunity to tap into what that really could look like..”
Tucci said you don’t have to be experienced or have a deep background in racial justice work to get something out of the Summit.
“Anybody that’s up for it, wherever it is that you are,” she said. “If you want to try to get into it, anyone that’s open to being in relationship, open to an honest conversation, open to imagination, open to get into it.”
Registration for the 2022 YWCA Racial Justice Summit is open until September 9. Madison365 is proud to be the media sponsor of the Racial Justice Summit. More information, including the schedule and speaker bios, is available here. Tickets are available here.