By Z! Haukeness, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice organizer — Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ) has launched a project to engage 3.5% of Wisconsin’s population in a campaign called the Racial Justice Tipping Point (RJTP): that’s 200,000 people in Wisconsin and 8,500 in Madison. We will use grassroots organizing strategies to not only bring people together, but to take the big and small steps to make the big shifts that we need in order to make Wisconsin a more racially equitable state.
We will be bringing groups together for a Kickoff Gathering on May 21 in Madison to train people to engage others in their local areas. The gathering will be held at James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 2146 E. Johnson St. in Madison, from 9am to 5pm with lunch served.
While many organizations within our network have an explicit focus on racial justice issues such as immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter, American Indian sovereignty and human rights, and Hmong self-determination, we will also be partnering with organizations outside our network to build the power we need to win real life improvements in people’s lives. A main component of the program is to engage and deepen white people’s commitment to this work.
It was great meeting with the Progressive Dane General Membership on March 25. We had a good conversation about ways that PD could benefit from and contribute to the RJTP project. PD endorsed and joined RJTP.
A tool for the people
Progressive Dane would add great expertise on local policy initiatives. One possibility we discussed is creating our own “Equity Tool”, or “The People’s Racial Justice Tool”. With the development and early implementation of the City and County Equity Tool we have identified gaps in its effectiveness. We think that having our own guidelines to consider when implementing policy or funding will help improve the racial justice efforts locally. This tool, or resource, could also be translated and made available to other local areas across the state.
The Kickoff Gathering on May 21 is a chance for groups to get to know one another, learn about how we can work collaboratively for racial justice, and get training around organizational development, engagement and outreach, and direct action. We have an amazing facilitation team including the following folks.
Cynthia Lin: WNPJ Board Member, former Western States Center trainer and current organizer with National Network of Abortion Funds
Brandi Grayson: Young Gifted and Black co-founder, YWCA Empowerment Center Manager
Claire Tran: WNPJ Board Member, Trainer with School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), Asians for Black Lives
Barb Munson: WNPJ Co-Chair, Chair of Wisconsin Indian Education Association “Indian” Mascot and Logo Taskforce
Dana Schultz: Executive Director of Wisconsin Voices
Liz Bruno: WNPJ Board Co-Chair, Herbalist, Generative Somatics trainee
Z! Haukeness: WNPJ Organizer, Groundwork, various social justice organizations
We will also be offering direct trainings to predominately white and people of color led organizations to be taken through organizational assessments, trainings, and strategic planning to strengthen their work for racial justice.
To better understand where the 3.5% philosophy comes from, visit the RJTP website at racialjusticewi.org. Political scientist Erica Chenoweth researched social movements over the last century and found one thing in common. In all of them, it took a critical mass of 3.5% of a population taking non-violent action to make great shifts like major policy changes and leadership changes.
This is an exciting opportunity with people across the country getting educated and passionate about racial justice. The Black Lives Matter movement, the Not1More deportation campaign, and the Idle No More movement have inspired bold action. Donald Trump’s racism, sexism, and xenophobia has also emboldened a new group of activists to stand up against a common threat, and a common vision of a multi-racial movement for social and environmental justice.