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2011 Overcoming Racism Conference: Listen, Connect, Commit
Plenary Speakers & Artist-Activists

Friday's theme will be:
How does racism frame our realities? The racial frame: What is it? How does it work. Our Friday keynote speaker will be Dr. Joe R. Feagin, scholar and author of many books on racism, including most recently The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing. Joe Feagin also produces and maintains RacismReview, providing extensive and accessible research and analysis from scholars and researchers across disciplines. Download a reflection on Feagin's book, The White Racial Frame.
Dr. Joe Feagin
Friday's closing plenary: Art as Activism:  Reframing Our Lives
In these performances, a diverse array of artists/activists challenge racism and other oppressive structures by offering alternative understandings of who we are and how we live in community. Including:

Jamal Abdur-Salaam - Emcee
Home grown in St. Paul Minnesota. I graduated from Central High School in 1995. I am now a Senior at Metro State University with intentions to walk in the spring of 2012. I am pursuing a First College liberal Arts degree with a self entitled focus on Motivational Skills Development. I am also serving in my second year as the President of the African American Student Association. My Life's work and passion is dedicated to educating and uplifting young people in our communities. Peace be upon you

-JUiCE aka DJ NONSENSE, started DJing in 2004. In 2007 he was locally known for DJing High School dances under the name of DJ Drink JUiCE. The 23yr old DJ from South Minneapolis enjoys mixing Hiphop, Club, and Dubstep music. This winter JUiCE plans to focus on producing and working on Mash-Ups as well as video mixing. Other hobbies JUiCE enjoys include Drawing, Video editing and Paintballing.

-Tou Saiko Lee, spoken word artist, mentor, hip hop emcee and community organizer residing in St. Paul, Minnesota. He teams up with his grandmother Youa Chang who does the traditional Hmong art of kwv txiaj (Hmong Poetry Chanting) to form the group "Fresh Traditions." He has a passion for working with and mentoring youth at schools and community centers across the country. His speaks about the issues he address in his music that include, human rights violations, diversity in America, Racism in the Media, Gang Violence and Arts for Social Change. He is also the co-founder of "The H Project" an Arts for Social Change effort of a national music compilation CD to raise awareness about the Human Rights Violations of Hmong people in the jungles of Laos. Along with emerging Hmong teens he created the Blackbird Elements music project for In Progress to give opportunities for upcoming Hip Hop artists to express their stories and struggles through songs. Lee received the Jerome Foundation Travel Grant in 2008 and is a 2009 Intermedia Arts VERVE grant recipient. He organizes an annual Hip Hop event that includes a huge b-boy jam in July called Boom Bap Village to coincide with the Hmong Sports tournaments. In 2008 he was featured in an online video documentary in the New York Times called "Hmong Hip Hop Heritage."

-"Silently Into the Night" from Fierce Love by Pomo Afro Homos (Brian Freeman, Eric Gupton and Djola Branner), performed by Will Gordon. Will is the current Chair of Twin Cities Black Pride. Originally from Nashville, TN, he attended Macalester College where he received his B.A. in American Studies in 2011. With an academic focus on AfAm Lit and Black masculinity, Will found theater as a productive outlet for digesting his research. Along with his duties with TCBP, he is currently fulfilling a service year with Coaches Across America teaching and coaching at a charter school in Minneapolis.

-HIP HOPE is an inclusive non-profit registered student organization of the University of Minnesota that is open to all levels of dancers which focuses on genuine philanthropy, developing a community of dancers and leaders, and the art of hip hop dancing while actively seeking out and maintaining a diverse and multicultural base of members. HIP HOPE plans to fulfill our mission through ways such as regular practices, workshops, performances, and benefit concerts to raise funds for relevant charities while working in compliance with all of the University's policies.
Why we created HIP HOPE: There are so many reasons! A few of them are:
1) We noticed that much of the hip hop dancing occurring on campus is segregated by race and/or ethnicity. We want to provide one safe space for people from all backgrounds and styles.
2) We want to offer dancers the opportunity to develop their dance and leadership skills through hands-on training of teaching a workshop or learning a new style.
3) We want to prove that hip hop dancing CAN make a direct impact on the community through volunteering, performances, and other philanthropic ways.

-James Lightsands, Osceola Band Muskogee/Creek Seminole. James has a bachelor's degree in culinary arts and is currently studying to be a LADC counselor at Metropolitan State University.  He is performing an ambient goa trance.

Linda Hawj (pronounced Her) is an emerging, multi-disciplined Artist in the forms of writing, poetry, spoken word, hip hop emcee and filmmaking. As an Activist, she advocates for equity of Hmong LGBTQI community, gender and racial justice, exploring and understanding identities of the self; self-empowerment. She pairs her love for Art and passion for humanitarian work as social, political and cultural connecting and changing tools. She creatively expresses and actively speaks out to evoke awareness, access and change. She is currently pursing an Individualized BA in Arts, Activism, Leadership & Organizing at Metropolitan State University

Maria Isa, Beginning her arts education at El Arco Iris Center for the Arts in 1992, Maria Isa quickly progressed from the role of student to the role of singer, songwriter, emcee and performer Her 2009 release, Street Politics, has received much critical acclaim. She has been featured on the cover of Twin Cities Metro and City Pages. She is currently shooting indie film Strike One in LA with Danny Treo;  headed to Puerto Rico to shoot the documentary We Rock Long Distance with film maker Justin Schnell . She has been nominated for a Minnesota Music “Best Hip-Hop Artist” Award, and was recognized as a 2010 Rising Star by the National Hispaña Leadership Institute for her outstanding work with Youthrive on behalf of incarcerated youth throughout the Twin Cities. She has also been honored for her involvement with Peace Jam on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. She recently received the Best Urban Artist award from Univision 13, a Certificate of Appreciation from the Governor of Minnesota for her outstanding songwriting and contributions to the Latino Community, and a David Laffyette Award for her dedication towards the peace movement through the arts. She has appeared on the International Bazaar stage at the Minnesota State Fair, as Mimi in the musical “Rent”at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre and at New York’s BMI Latin Alternative Music Conference showcase. Her music has reached audiences around the world, including Asia and the United Kingdom, Latin America, the United States and Puerto Rico. She has performed alongside Slick Rick, Tego Calderon, Plena Libre, Los Pleneros de La 21, The Roots, Digable Planets, Julio Voltio, Lil Rob, Chingo Bling, La Bruja, Miguel Alegrin, Alice Russel, Bomba Esterio, Brother Ali, The Alkoholiks, Semisonic and Paracumbe to Dead Prez.


Saturday will focus on how the racial frame affects antiracism work in organizations, institutions and communities. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years of experience in the field of mental health. She serves as the Executive Director of the African American Child Wellness Institute, a children’s mental health agency dedicated to the research, delivery and coordination of comprehensive wellness strategies for children of African descent. Dr. Akinsanya also serves as the President of Brakins Consulting and Psychological Services, which has the mission of “providing excellent, culturally competent mental health and consultation services that meet the needs of children, adults, families and organizations.” Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya specializes in violence recovery and multicultural mental health. She is known for her “Culture-based Wellness Model” which explains mental health within the context of each individual’s cultural identity and environment. Recognized for her strength-based approach, Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya’s practice includes assisting children, couples and families in the development of healthy relationships. She is especially effective with clients whose lives have been touched by severe psychopathology, abuse, trauma, sexual assault and domestic violence issues.
Dr B's Headshot Africa 2
“When I Say Race, People Run: Claiming & Sharing Power through Antiracism Work in Organizations, Institutions and Communities” Saturday's keynote presentation is based on Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya’s upcoming book. She will explore how to go about having difficult, productive conversations about race that result in systems changes across organizations, institutions and communities. Specifically, this keynote explores the general factors in claiming and sharing power everyday in our antiracism work. Using her Model of Shared vs. Abused Socio-Cultural Power and Control, Dr. Garrett-Akinsanya explores the cultural, emotional, social, political and economic forces affecting the development of culturally competent interventions, strategies and programs that promote community wellness. Participants will leave this keynote feeling motivated, energized and better prepared to implement change strategies.

Saturday's closing plenary will bring alive the connections and commitments made by participants throughout the conference through photos, a co-created Wall of Commitment, and an inspiring performance created with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theater!

Workshop Descriptions Conference Home Page Registration Daily schedule