Last week, Repair the World traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for Facing Race: A National Conference. The two-day gathering is the largest multi-ethnic, intergenerational conference on racial justice. We went there to learn. To be challenged and grow. To connect. And we also went to share what we have learned along the way about being strong allies to social justice movements.
The Facing Race conference was packed with opportunities to learn from some of the movement’s greatest voices (Roxanne Gay and Jose Antonio Vargas were the keynote speakers) and people of color fighting every day, year after year, for human dignity and justice. And the schedule was likewise filled with diverse and inspiring programs, from breakout sessions about raising funds for racial justice and advancing immigrants’ rights, to an art gallery featuring social justice-themed works.
Throughout the two-day conference, Repair the World convened a cohort of students, educators, organizers, and leaders for a conference-within-a-conference. We were honored to have the opportunity to discuss organizing Jewish communities around racial justice with people who have been doing the work for decades. In addition to learning more about the campaigns and movements that one can get involved with, members of the Repair the World cohort explored how Jewish ritual, tradition, and texts can inform and deepen their work.
Through moments of storytelling, song, reflection, and celebration, including a #TurntheTables Shabbat dinner for 100 people, Repair the World aimed to create a space within the already powerful conference, where Jews of all backgrounds and people engaged with the Jewish community could seek out ways to act and serve together.
We were tremendously moved by the Facing Race conference itself, and by the passion and vulnerability of the people who joined us for this powerful experience. And we loved seeing how moved our participants were by each other. One participant, Meg Sullivan, who works as a Director of Programs and Community Engagement at JCC Harlem captured it perfectly when she said, “I feel so honored to have gotten to attend the conference and as part of this amazing delegation. I see overwhelming amounts of work to be done but also concrete steps forward. I have new language to continue asking questions. Perhaps most importantly, I feel my relationship with allyship has been totally transformed.”
(Photo credit: Brian Palmer)