2020 Equity Conference Marks CFA’s Continued Evolution into a Changemaking Advocate on Anti-Racism and Social Justice Fronts

Next year’s Equity Conference will be CFA’s ninth such conference, and for the first time it will be organized as a project of the Council for Racial and Social Justice. The renaming of CFA’s Council for Affirmative Action reflects the intentional progression of CFA’s Anti-Racism Social Justice Transformation. That transformational work is also visible in the selection of three themes that will be examined at the 2020 Equity Conference: Decolonization, Liberation, Joy and Resistance; Intersectional Continuums of Violence & Power; *(In)/(Hyper)Visibility, all of which are chosen to move us closer to “co-liberation,” the understanding that, just as our experiences of oppression are connected, so too are our struggles for freedoms and our pursuit of a better world.

 “This conference and the key themes that are at its core, will compel members to think long and hard not only about those who are oppressed, but their role in that oppression as well. These will not be easy conversations, but without having them we will never achieve co-liberation. We will never achieve the freedom we envision and experience the joy that such a reality brings with it,” said Sharon Elise, Professor at CSU San Marcos and Equity Conference Co-Chair.

Decolonization, Liberation, Joy and Resistance
Let’s start with a look at Decolonization, Liberation, Joy and Resistance, a theme that advocates the end of settler colonialism and the slave, native, settler categories it structured, and liberation from racial and social oppression. To achieve that goal, it is necessary for us to envision freedom, and to look to sources of joy in cultural expression, in collective struggle, in creativity. Too many times, we have seen declarations of progress and vast change on matters related to anti-racism and social justice, only to see society revert back to its default setting of ignorance and hate. That is why resistance is critical, but vision is also crucial. A vision of decolonization serves our ultimate goal: the dismantling of the oppressive legacy of colonization. Without a vision of the “beloved society” we cannot chart the distance and carve a path to free the land and the people.

Intersectional Continuums of Violence & Power
Although forms of oppression differ, our intersectional identities reveal the connection among these. As we honor and acknowledge the specific contours of our experience and histories, we know that a common thread is our struggle for survival against powerful forces, some driven by hate, some wielding institutional power that results in multiple forms of violence from individual brutality and murder to containment in hypersegregated communities, prisons and detention centers to the violence of poverty and abuse. At a fundamental level, the theme of Intersectional Continuums of Violence & Power is about learning more about and appreciating others’ oppression and using that knowledge and connectedness to fuel our collective fight against it.

Seen and surveilled or unseen and ignored? That’s the question at the center of the theme of *(In)/(Hyper)Visibility. Based on our positionality, we may be racially profiled and criminalized and warehoused. Or we may be vanished from sight and conversation, our circumstances and very being ignored. Yet both invisibility and hypervisibility result from forms of dehumanization; they are two sides of the same coin. Instead of contending against each other because these experiences are not the same, this theme calls for us to “connect the dots” that link these different manifestations of oppression based in our social identities that, regardless of their differences, contain and constrain us.  

In urging members to register for the conference, John Beynon, Professor at CSU Fresno and Equity Conference Co-Chair, said “I would like to encourage allCFA members to join us in February for what I believe will be a substantially and deeply intellectual and emotional wake up call for many of us. Our union has done tremendous work on issues related to anti-racism and social justice, but there is so much more that we need to do. And let’s be clear, while we may engage in this important work regularly, the rest of the world does not. So, it’s up to us to be the voice for change and we cannot be that until we first fully confront our own flaws and set in motion a plan to correct them. That’s what this conference is about.”

The 2020 Equity Conference will take place February 28-29 in Manhattan Beach. Members can learn more about the conference, including how to register, by visiting CFA’s Equity Conference webpage.