‘Connect for Co-Liberation:’ 2020 Equity Conference Highlights Union Members’ Social Justice Work

“…you can’t fight for a freedom you’ve forgotten how to identify.” – Zadie Smith, Feel Free: Essays.

Those 11 elegant words above sum up a weekend of learning and anti-racism, social justice work from CFA members.

Hundreds of activists mobilized in Manhattan Beach to connect for co-liberation. Friday morning began with eight caucuses – Asian/Pacific Islander, Women’s, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender, Chicanx/Latinx, Indigenous Peoples, Disability, African American and Teacher Education – reflecting and approaching the three key themes of this year’s conference.

Those themes were: Decolonization, Liberation, Joy and Resistance; Intersectional Continuums of Violence & Power; and (In)/(Hyper)Visibility. 

Faculty took the reins this weekend leading workshops that encapsulated the three core themes.  Panelists on Saturday addressed the lives of transgender immigrants and looked at the multiple systems of oppression levied against these individuals, broadening the conversation on immigration. Eight CFA members presented the historical and real-time struggle for survival of Ethnic Studies on CSU campuses, a timely workshop as the fight for AB 1460 continues.  Assembly Bill 1460 would require an ethnic studies course for graduation from a CSU.

The event also included interactive workshops like the creation of CFA’s Co-Liberation Quilt, which was grounded in the inspiration, politics and activism by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Three invited speakers addressed the 200+ activists in attendance Friday and Saturday. Loren Cannon, who is a CFA member, spoke Friday night about “Trans Directed Injustice: What We Need to Know, What We Need to Do”. Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, addressed the conference Saturday afternoon. And Sonali Sangeeta Balajee, founder of Our Bodhi Project and author of the article An Evolutionary Roadmap for Belonging and Co-Liberation, closed the event with her speech on co-liberation.

Click here to see an action gallery of the 2020 Equity Conference.

CFA Releases Data Report on Changing Faces of CSU Faculty, Students

The Conference also saw the release of CFA’s biennial data report. This year’s report focused on cultural taxation – a term coined by Amado Padilla in 1994 as a way of describing the unique burden placed on ethnic minority faculty in carrying out their responsibility to service the university. 

“Cultural taxation can take many forms in the academy, including faculty of color, LGBTQ+ faculty, and women having to serve on disproportionate numbers of campus committees, perform additional university service, and, as presented on these pages, potentially having an increased advising workload as a result of a shared identity between a student and faculty member,” wrote 2020 Equity Conference co-chairs Sharon Elise and John Beynon in the forward to the data book. “We challenge you to use this book and data in it as the beginning of a conversation on your campuses.”

Over the coming weeks, CFA will dive deeper into this data book and the significance of these numbers when telling stories about our faculty and our students.

To see the report in its entirety, click here.