Monday, August 24, 2009

Teach-in encourages participants: EDUCATE to LIBERATE!

This year's Nat Turner Teach-In for People of Color was a great success!  Thank you to everyone who turned out and participated in the interactive discussions and workshops.  We had over 30 participants, one-third of whom were male - the largest critical mass of men to participate in the teach-in's history!  

The half-day teach-in began by honoring our ancestors and calling upon their spirit as motivation for the day's work. Teach-in organizer Gigi Frazier led the thought-provoking discussion "Plot Your Own Rebellion" where participants were introduced to the history of Nat Turner.  By engaging hypothetical scenarios of a pregnant slave woman seeking freedom, participants had the opportunity to locate the many choices that we all encounter in liberation work, choices that are timeless for people of color, particularly women. 

Seattle University sociology professor Gary Perry led a dynamic workshop on Black pro-feminist men and the lessons that male allies can learn from their legacy.  Men, such as Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, W.E.B. DuBois, Michael Eric Dyson, and Mark Anthony Neal.  The critical mass of male participants at this year's teach-in made for a lively discussion about the role of men in anti-violence work.  In addition, we called on men of color to center gender justice and an end to gender-based violence in their work. 

Nada Elia, Antioch University liberal studies professor and founder of Radical Arab Women's Activist Network, called upon participants to connect with the global movement to proclaim the Israeli occupation as apartheid.  Through an interactive activity, she outlined the history of the Palestinian/Israeli geopolitical conflict (which is relatively short, contrary to popular belief!).  She called on participants to connect the atrocities in Palestine to the history of South African apartheid, as international leaders have proclaimed such as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter.  We need to adopt the same strategies of boycotting Israel as we did with South Africa, through economic sanctions, failure to consume Israeli goods, and remaining vocal about the situation of the Palestinian people.  "If we believe apartheid is wrong" Elia proclaimed, "we do it again for Palestine!"

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