Facing Race, Defining Justice and Making Change

On November 15-17, 2012, racial justice think tank, the Applied Research Center (ARC) and publisher of Colorlines, will host the 2012 Facing Race National Conference. Just ten days after the 2012 Presidential Election, this discussion is the forefront of a critical dialogue about racial justice and social activism and it is timely. More than 1,000 educators, journalists, artists, leaders, and activists are anticipated to attend, along with a stellar lineup of presenters.  The conference is the largest national multi-racial assembly of its kind.

Pulitzer Prize recipient, Junot Diaz is set to deliver the keynote speech, while political late night host of Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, W. Kamau Bell, and social media “realtalker” Deanna Zandt will host the three-day conference.  Topics such as the 2012 election, LGBTQI rights, education reform, the economy, immigrant rights, multiracial organizing and the development of racial justice leadership and training models are on the agenda. Beyond discussion, the conference aims to ensure that its participants walk away with actual tools to create sustainable social change.

As the ARC celebrates its 30th anniversary, its mission to popularize the need for racial justice and prepare people to fight for it is just as relevant and necessary as it was 30 years ago. Melissa Harris-Perry, the 2010 keynote speaker, speaks to this point eloquently:

America’s failings to substantively address the continuing challenges of race emerges from a lack of shared vocabulary and experiences, collective understanding of the difference between personal attitudes and systematic discrimination, common data about racial inequity, and historical knowledge about how power and privilege operate. Most importantly, however, we lack a collective vision of a racially just future. These are the aspects of race that we must face, working in communities across America among people of good faith…

Based on the persistent inequality and the experiences of people of color, the frequent touts of America as a “post-racial” society is a claim many would denounce. Remnants of Americas’ history play out not only in our everyday interactions with one another, but systematically as well. This conference is important as it provides a platform for much-needed dialogue and collective efforts to strategize for racial justice and true social change.

Information on how to participate, conference details and registration for the 2012 Facing Race National Conference can be found on their website.

by Faith Nunley

Leave a comment


  1. Kay

     /  November 13, 2012

    Well written! I definitely wish I was able to attend!


    • Progressive Pupil

       /  November 13, 2012

      Kay, the conference this weekend in Maryland. If you’re in the area, you should check it out!


  2. Analia

     /  November 18, 2012

    This seems like a really interesting event. I will definitely be looking into it next year.
    I think there are plenty of idealists in this country that say they are color blind and think that, in general, we live in a just society where all people are equal. While I wish that this world existed, it clearly does not. There are a myriad of examples to point to but the one that comes to mind is the Hurricane Sandy volunteer effort. This article in the NY Times provides an interesting take on the relationship between the volunteers and those most affected by the storm. It highlights the racial tensions that the, mostly well intentioned, volunteer efforts have brought to light within NYC alone.


    I’m not sure that we’ll ever reach true equality but I am certain that the path toward that world is through education and communication, making programs like these essential.


  3. I hope that this conference continues to provoke civil discourse regarding the issues of race in our society. All too often I hear or read comments such as “racism is not a true issue” or “racism is exaggerated” and this is a gross and terrifying misconception of where we are in reality.

    The socioeconomic and political constructs that continually oppress and exploit the people are far from being resolved– while I agree that we must foster education and communication on the path to social prosperity and freedom, I feel it is also of utmost importance to truly believe that an equal and justice world can exist, that it is not an impossible dream but an attainable goal (albeit a difficult one to reach). As leaders and active participants in social justice it is our responsibility to engage people in an effort to break down the oppressive constructs. How can we do that if we do not truly believe that this wall of injustice can be torn down? We must believe that just as these exploitative, oppressive, imbalanced frames were built we can, through education, communication, compassion and understanding, dismantle the frame and create a whole new world. I hope we never live in a world where everyone is color blind… I imagine that we create a world that everyone sees, appreciates and respects the beauty that is in our diversity!

    For readers of this blog- I thought this article may be of interest as well: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-18/news/sns-rt-us-usa-politics-coalitionbre8ai00d-20121118_1_republican-party-republican-outreach-latinos


  4. Lacy

     /  December 3, 2012

    “Race still impacts so much about people’s health, their wealth, where the live, who they can become.” – Van Jones (from Facing Race 2012 video)

    Racism is not dead. Being a resident of New York City you still see it everywhere by the way people are treated, the neighborhoods in which people live and the jobs that people hold. Race impacts everything, but why? We live in an age where we can elect a Black president and consider ourselves to be ‘educated’ and yet this problem of racism still exists in every corner of the United States. I then ask myself and my fellow classmates, what is our role in the movement to stop racial inequality and bring about social and racial justice in our country? I think that Rinku Sen from the video put it best when she said, “Without a strong community we can’t reach our goals.” The key word here is community, we are one community. Once we start learning to work together to promote peace and equality through activist groups and events such as this Facing Race 2012 conference and other movements then we can really start to realize we are one people. We all want what is best for our families, ourselves and our country. We can raise race awareness together.


  5. Keisha

     /  December 3, 2012

    Very inspiring post. Thank you for this information, I will have to look into next year’s conference. I am particularly interested in this post because while doing work in a psychology lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago we discussed race. An interesting read I would encourage everyone to look into is “Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century.” A collection of author’s offer their perspective on race. The book also takes on the interesting perspective of race being a verb instead of a noun.


  6. Nicolas

     /  December 5, 2012

    Great post. I totally agree that the “touts” of America as a “post-racial” society are vastly overblown given that there is a persistent systemic inequality. To claim a “post-racial” America is ludicrous.
    However, I think the “post-racial” claims are a sign of there being progress. The difficulty comes from there being some progress in racial relations, yet not having reached the desired goal, that of the “post-racial” society.
    From the perspective of framing an issue, the position of having some progress, but not having achieved the goal is far more difficult to present and articulate than either a problem having to be recognized in the first place, or the end goal being achieved. While the claims of “post-racial” America society are in and of themselves not really an issue, they do become an issue if they are not addressed and prevent the continuation of the process of making change. Bravo to the Facing Race Conference for taking the issue head-on.



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