Fighting the good fight
It began with Charlottesville
Last year, a group of white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virgina, ostensibly to protest the removal of a confederate statue.
For many, it was the first time any of us had ever seen people - young men in khakis, looking like our sons and brothers and friends - marching with Nazi flags and chanting about Jews. But this wasn't new, really. We've known for a long time that racism and fascism are always brewing, just under the surface.
We - these disembodied voices talking to you here - started to organize in the days after Charlottesville. We were, like many, filled with righteous anger, which is a wonderfully mobilizing force that can be harnessed. But we were quickly confronted with the obvious question: what can we actually do to help?
Finding what works
We began talking to experts and the people who have been working on this problem for decades. We researched what worked and what didn't. We asked more questions than we found answers, but eventually, viable solutions started to take form. Each expert had different ideas on how to make a difference: Write op-eds for rural media. Expose white supremacists to their communities. Use art to counter hate.
It became clear that solutions were as individual as the people who were employing them. So that's what we wanted to bring to you: a conference to help you workshop your own action plan, unique to you, and based on not only what works, but what works for you.
But this had to be an actual training conference; it had to be action-focused. This couldn't just be one more thing to learn. It had to be an opportunity to do. And in September 2018, exactly a year after we began the search for solutions, we are going to attempt to do just that. Over 3 days, we will come together to Fight the Good Fight, for diversity, justice and equality.
We all have small moments in our lives that wake us up, sputtering and breathless, to the realities of the world. One such moment for me was when I was watching The Daily Show, back in the Jon Stewart days. His guest was Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist who started a sex-strike in Liberia and ultimately helped to end the the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Jon - rather sarcastically, I thought - asked her what she thought of the Occupy Wallstreet movement that was happening in America. I think he expected her to find it silly, maybe even frivolous, compared to the problems she had faced. But her response was something along this lines of "I can't believe Americans aren't in full revolt."
It was jarring for me. Revolutionaries around the world - from countries we perhaps expect to revolt - were expressing shock at our complacency.
And that was back in 2011.
The time is now because we don't have more time. Even if this is a "normal" cycle that we go through every few years, where hate threatens to take over, we no longer have a recovery period due to climate change (a topic for another conference, maybe yours!). We don't have the space for this to play out. We can't just hope away the time until the next election.
We need to act now. We need to fight the Good Fight.