Each year, YWCA Madison hosts its annual Racial Justice Summit that brings together community stakeholders to work on eliminating barriers that foster racism in our community. This year, it will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center with the theme of “Reclaiming Our Stories.”
“We’re excited about the event,” YWCA Madison CEO Vanessa McDowell tells Madison365. “This year, we’ve been reclaiming something at all of our events. For our Circle of Women event, we reclaimed our power. At our Moxie Conference and Women of Distinction Awards, we reclaimed our time.
“And at the Racial Justice Summit event we will be reclaiming our story,” she adds. ” It is essential and crucial, especially at this time, that our stories are being told and heard. It’s really a time to center our voices of color and our marginalized communities and allowing for their voices to be hear.”
The annual Racial Justice Summit focuses on institutional racism and involves nationally known keynote speakers and researchers, as well as local experts and advocates.
For the first time ever, YWCA Madison’s Racial Justice Summit will host a Story Slam gathering participants and speakers to tell their true stories in the spirit of this year’s theme of Reclaiming Our Stories. Hosted by Anjali Misra, the Story Slam will hear from presenters and attendees that will be selected to share their reclamation stories.
“I’m really excited about the Story Slam and the chance to hear people’s experiences and stories,” McDowell says.
Meanwhile, the art featured at the 2018 Racial Justice Summit will be part of a project called Women Against Hate United by Love, a collective project of artists and activists. The artists – Kelly Parks Snider, Rachel Griffin, and Leigh Garcia – worked collaboratively with activists to create a platform for a female-led anti-hate campaign united against bigotry, intolerance, and racism.
“The Racial Justice Summit is really an opportunity to be with the community in a different way,” McDowell says. “Folks that usually attend this conference usually have some sense of passion for racial and social justice, so it’s just great to be in an environment where you can listen to people and grow and learn from others who are doing this work.”
There will be various breakout sessions featuring different topics on racial justice as well as educational and health issues. Featured keynote speakers will include:
◆ Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) is a Native scholar, writer, blogger, and activist, and is passionate about re-framing how the world sees contemporary Native cultures. She is the creator and author of Native Appropriations, a blog discussing cultural appropriation and stereotypes of Native peoples in fashion, film, music, and other forms of pop culture.
◆ Yosimar Reyes is a nationally-acclaimed poet, educator, performance artist, and speaker. Born in Guerreo, Mexico, and raised in Eastside San Jose, Reyes explores the themes of migration and sexuality in his work. The Advocate named Reyes one of “13 LGBT Latinos Changing the World” and Remezcla included Reyes on their list of “10 Up And Coming Latinx Poets You Need To Know.”
◆ Shakti Butler, PhD, filmmaker and Founder & President of World Trust, is a dynamic educator in the field of diversity and racial equity. Dr. Butler engages audiences with participatory keynotes and workshops, often using clips from her films. Known as a catalyst for change, she is hired by organizations seeking broader support for their diversity & inclusion goals.
◆ Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and intersectional social justice.
◆ Reanae McNeal is an award-winning international performing artist, inspirational speaker, acclaimed vocalist, oral HERstorian, visual artist, griotess (storyteller), performing art poet, and cultural activist. Reanae’s specialty is storytelling in the African/African-American/African-Native American tradition. She plays over twenty African and Native American instruments
“I think it’s an opportunity to have a moment of respite in this work as you listen to speakers talk about the work that they are doing,” she adds. “And I think it gives us a sense of hope, too, that there are people that care about these issues and are doing work towards equity in this community and in this nation when other people are telling us that there is so much hate and racism. We get inundated by that stuff every day, so it’s really an opportunity to be in a space where we can talk about these issues offering up a space for healing.”