Over four days last week, CFA members attended one or more of 20 sessions about envisioning radically different futures, strategies for co-liberation, (in)/(hyper)visible labor in the CSU, and care and healing justice.
“I got so much out of attending all of the sessions at Equity Conference, and hope that our attendees did, too. A common theme that our speakers raised was about the importance and power of building relationships, of fully seeing people and working with them in all of their wonderful complexities. In Dr. Cecil Canton’s closing keynote ‘Dream work makes the team work,’ he described the long process of working with people throughout CFA to turn his dream of a social justice union into a reality,” said Talitha Matlin, conference tri-chair and CSU San Marcos librarian. “I hope we can continue the hard but joyful work of making CFA, our universities, and our communities true spaces of co-liberation.”
The conference was capped off Saturday with discussions about racelighting by Dr. Luke Wood, former CFA San Diego member, and team work by retired Sacramento State professor, CFA leader and activist Dr. Cecil Canton.
Canton reviewed his last 20 years as a CFA activist, by flipping the phrase “Teamwork makes the dream work.” As in his book “Journey Toward a More Perfect Union,” Canton highlighted how having a dream for a more perfect tomorrow can help colleagues and organizations transform.
“This is the story of the CFA dream and how the team came together to make the dream come true,” Canton said. “… And now we have dreams that are much bigger. I love that and I love that we’re evolving, and we keep dreaming, and we keep embracing because we’re embracing many, many more people.”
At this end of his presentation, CFA President Charles Toombs announced the naming of the CFA headquarters meeting room the Dr. Cecil E. Canton Social Justice Room to honor Dr.Canton’s irreplaceable and long-lasting contributions to CFA’s transformation to a social justice union.
“We wouldn’t be here without you letting us take part in the dream. You mentored so many of us and taught us how to do social justice union work,” Toombs said about Canton.
Wood’s session reviewed the ways that racelighting is evident in the experiences of CSU students, faculty, and staff of color, and strategies to reduce the effect of racelighting on BIPOC communities. Racelighting is the process whereby Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) question their own thoughts and actions due to systematically delivered racialized messages that make them second guess their own lived experiences with racism.
Equity Conference sessions reviewed research, strategies on uplifting social justice, and ways to build these bridges with colleagues, students, and others. Topics included:
- looking at how ableism perpetuates white supremacy, and how policing on CSU campuses shapes union and social justice organizing and academic freedom;
- highlighting practices and examples of healing justice, and community care;
- harnessing the power of dreaming and visioning, and envisioning ourselves as future ancestors;
- calling in the call-out culture, creating caste equity, healing Islamophobia’s wounds;
- strengthening immigration alliances, caring for our trans siblings, and implementing “servingness” at Hispanic Serving Institutions;
- exploring how debt (including student loan debt) is a form of social control and a tool of white supremacy.
Equity Conference organizers will post session videos in the coming weeks. For those videos, resources, and materials, visit the Equity Conference webpage.
Many attendees appreciated the testimonials, and left sessions feeling hopeful and uplifted. Others expressed appreciation for CFA leaders who organized such a fulfilling conference so soon after bargaining a new CFA contract. Others asked, “how can I bring this to my campus?”