Program Committee: American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union – San Diego, Asian American Justice Center, California Immigrant Policy Center, Drug Policy Alliance, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Muslim Advocates, National Network for Arab American Communities, OneAmerica, Rights Working Group, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, and South Asian Americans Leading Together.
Northwest Host Committee: Alliance for a Just Society, CAIR-Washington, Causa-Oregon, Center for Interculutral Organizing and OneAmerica
The National Membership Meeting, held in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 12-13, was a tremendous success. Over 175 Rights Working Group members and allies joined in the lively discussions on issues important to our communities and to build meaningful relationships. There were many memorable highlights from the Meeting that illustrated the ongoing need to strengthen a cross-sectoral approach to stopping racial profiling. The event kicked off with a collaborative welcome from Northwest leaders Kayse Jama, Executive Director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica, and RWG's own Margaret Huang. The welcome was followed by member testimonies about the value of the coalition and a "fishbowl" session which grounded audience participants in the history and work of RWG from coalition member experiences.
RWG received essential feedback from the second plenary, a Conversation Café that was facilitated by a number of RWG's Steering Committee members. Overall, participants affirmed the current direction and priorities of our work. There was emphasis placed on deepening our work with the proactive and defensive teams, in the story collection project, and in connecting local and state campaigns to the national level. There was also a strong demand expressed for deepening RWG's current analysis and further developing our framework on racial profiling, including revising messaging and education efforts. Another clear consensus was reached around the need to more effectively lift up local victories of our members that would help build national momentum. Finally, participants called for the development of intermediate goals for the Racial Profiling: Face the Truth campaign.
To elevate the voices of the local community, RWG and local organizations held a Speak Out on Racial Profiling in the Northwest! The Speak Out featured community members and advocates sharing their experiences of racial profiling in the Northwest to a panel of elected officials and community leaders.
Through policy summaries and stories, attendees gained an understanding of the real impacts of racial profiling on diverse communities. Speakers included Arsalan Bukhari of CAIR-WA who spoke about racial and religious profiling in the name of national security; Kayse Jama of the Center for Intercultural Organizing about the targeting of the Somali community in Portland, Oregon; Mark Cooke of the ACLU-WA spoke about racial profiling and mass incarceration in drug enforcement, Reyna Lopez and Angela Rico of CAUSA-Oregon shared the impact of racial profiling in the Latino community in rural Oregon, and Ada Williams Prince of OneAmerica spoke of the horrendous racial profiling at the hands of Border Patrol along the Northern Border. In a poignant example, Jesus Martinez told the tragic story of seeing his mentally-ill son gunned down by Border Patrol, after he called 911 to take his son to the hospital.
Through these descriptions of the organizing and advocacy landscape for each type of profiling, local advocates and organizers shared their work and strategies to fight racial profiling in different sectors and regions of the Northwest. The panelists were moved to share their own stories of racial profiling and offered suggestions and commitments to fight racial profiling in their positions of leadership. A reception followed the Speak Out with performances by local youth poets that exemplified dynamic, artistic resistance to racial profiling. The Speak Out lifted up the rich fight for racial justice, civil and human rights, and immigrant rights in the Northwest.
The Membership Meeting also had 18 workshops and 10 caucuses organized and led by RWG coalition members. There was a diverse range of topics that included the intersection of drug policy and deportation, gang profiling and youth organizing, how communities can fight against Islamaphobia and much more. RWG Core Partners led a workshop to share their work on proactive legislation to ban racial profiling, building multiracial coalitions, and holding officials accountable to anti-profiling laws. [See full listing of workshops.]
The Membership Meeting ended with a visionary plenary, where participants created squares for a quilt that reflected their personal vision of a world free of racial profiling and the opportunity to connect their vision to the larger movement for human rights and dignity. Not only was this different approach appreciated by meeting participants but it also created a beautiful piece of artwork that RWG will use to inspire future gatherings.
We are deeply grateful for the support and efforts of the OneAmerica staff for co-hosting and assisting in the organizing of the meeting. We are also thankful to members of the Northwest Host Committee for bringing together an amazing and diverse group of participants and to the Program Committee for creating an agenda of outstanding speakers and presenters.