Overcoming Racism: Awakening, Woke, Taking Command
November 3-4, 2017 View the printed conference program
At Metropolitan State University in St. Paul

Friday plenary:Dr. Anton Treuer, Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and author of 14 books.  * Dr. Duchess Harris, Chair of the American Studies Department at Macalester College and author of four books.  * Ricardo Levins-Morales, “healer and trickster organizer disguised as an artist” will facilitate dialogue.

Watch & listen to a live stream of the Friday morning plenary sessions on our Facebook page

Workshops: Workshop schedule, descriptions and resources

Saturday plenary:
Brownbody presents excerpts of their most recent work, Quiet as It's Kept. Set to a soundscape created in collaboration with and performed by actress and vocalist Thomasina Petrus, Quiet as It's Kept captures the complexity and turbulence of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and the rise of Jim Crow "governance" and draws parallels between these time periods and today. This presentation will take place off the ice and will feature video of the on ice version. Post-performance dialogue facilitated by Sandra Richardson.

Conference Logistics
If you need disability related accommodations, including parking, to make this event accessible, please contact the Center for Accessibility Resources, 651-793-1549 or

Pre-approved CEUs for social work available at the conference. Certificates of attendance available for others.

Registration rates:
  • Full price: $215 both days/ $145 single day
  • Student price: $65 both days/ $40 single day
  • Volunteers: Commit to 1/2 day volunteer shift and attend the rest of the conference for free. Volunteer slots are filled
We recognize that the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (“North America”) are the rightful occupants of this land and have a pre-existing right to be at the conference. Therefore, indigenous people are not asked to pay registration fees for the Overcoming Racism conference. We do ask that you register for planning purposes.

Scholarships: Need-based scholarships are available. Applicants are asked to complete a two-question online application and to pay what they can. Scholarship applications are closed.

Greater MN InitiativeComing to the conference from Greater Minnesota? The Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative (FREC) is exploring ways to best support efforts to address racism and racial equity in Greater Minnesota and we would like your input! If you are from Greater Minnesota and interested in this conversation we invite you to join us for a meeting on Friday, November 3rd 4:45 pm at Metro State University, SEC 216.

As part of this effort, FREC is interested in co-sponsoring regional racial justice events in which local partners take the lead in planning and implementation. Our co-sponsorship would include help identifying resources and speakers, planning support as requested, and promoting the event. Sponsorships of up to $2000 will be given to partner organizations for three regional events.

Friday, November 3, 2017
7:30 AM Doors open.
8:00 AM Dakota drumming & singing
8:20 AM Sage blessing
8:40 AM MCs welcome
8:45 AM Metro State welcome
8:50 AM MCs provide brief history of FREC
9:00 AM Keynote speakers: Dr. Anton Treuer & Dr. Duchess Harris
10:15 AM Break
10:30 AM Discussion between keynoters and audience, moderated by Ricardo Levins Morales
12:00 Lunch - pick up box lunch in New Main Great Hall
1:15 PM A Workshops/breakout sessions (1:15-2:45 PM)
3:00 PM B Workshops/breakout sessions (3:00-4:30 PM)
4:45 PM Greater MN gathering (see above)
6:00 PM Free film and discussion:
The Blood is at the Doorstep

Saturday, November 4, 2017
8:30 AM Doors open.
9:00 AM Dakota drumming & singing
9:30 AM MCs welcome and introduce the morning session
9:45 AM Keynote performance by Brownbody with Thomasina Petrus
11:30 AM Lunch - pick up box lunch in New Main Great Hall
12:30 PM C Workshops/breakout sessions (12:30-2:00 PM)
2:15 PM D Workshops/breakout sessions (2:15-3:45 PM)

Preliminary workshop schedule & descriptions - subject to change!

“Racism has been for everyone like a horrible, tragic car crash, and we've all been heavily sedated from it. If we don't come into consciousness of this tragedy, there's going to be a violent awakening we don't want. The question is, can we wake up?”
Anna Deavere Smith “When I got honest with myself, I had to own up to the fact that I’d bought into the myth of white superiority, silently and privately, explaining to myself the pattern of white dominance I observed as a natural outgrowth of biologically wired superior."
Debby Irving
“There is only one moment in time when it is essential to awaken. That moment is now”.

"I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr. Garvey done woke me up, I’m gon stay woke. And I’m gon help him wake up other black folk."
Barry Beckham, 1971 play: Garvey Lives!
"Truth requires no belief. Stay woke. Watch closely.”
Erykah Badu

Taking Command
“Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world”.
James Baldwin, 1963
“If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own."
Wes Nisker
“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”
Kofi Anan
“We've got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don't fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity.”
Fred Hampton

This year’s conference theme is Overcoming Racism: Awakening, Woke, Taking Command.
Awakening: Seeing, naming and deconstructing the dominant racial narratives. This step is about education and dialogue. It means awakening to the history of colonialism/ (If you don’t know the history, you can’t see it repeating itself.) It means awakening to the white racial frame and white privilege. It means waking up to the histories and narratives of other peoples and cultures and valuing them.
Woke: Awakening is a first step, but it’s easy to slip back into habits of silence, numbness, and not-seeing racism. This step is about vigilance and preparedness. We can stay awake to how racism surfaces in our everyday life and have confidence in our ability to respond. People who are truly “woke” carry a strong responsibility to act.
Taking Command: Learning the skills to undo racism, seeing the opportunities to undo it and applying our skills to the challenges at hand. This step is about building skills, courage and leadership.
FREC sees these stages as fluid and non linear. We all are constantly awakening. Depending on the issue and context, people can be in each stage of growth.

Conference Learning Objectives
Participants will:
Experience awakening to the historical roots of racism and its modern manifestations.

Learn what it requires of us to “stay woke” in our daily lives.

Practice skills to take command when we see instances of racism in our daily lives. Leave inspired to develop our own action plans.

Network with individuals and organizations who are working to overcome racism in themselves, their organizations and our communities, and find opportunities to plug into their work.

Understand how racism intersects with many other pressing issues of the day, from immigration reform and environmental policies to Islamophobia and criminal justice reform.

Workshops: Preliminary workshop schedule & descriptions - subject to change!
Conference Logistics