Answer the Call: a workshop for white folks on building anti-racist momentum in our community

    May 9, 2015 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
    Joel D. Valdez Main library
    101 North Stone Avenue
    Tucson, AZ 85701


    The newly organized Tucson Black Lives Matter Solidarity Group will present a free half-day workshop designed to offer a framework and skills for participants to:

    • take action to challenge institutional/cultural racism;
    • interrupt moments of racism as they arise; and
    • acquire tools to come together with other white folks to deepen dialogue and
    move to action in solidarity with people of color-led movements for racial justice.


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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


    1. About 60 people in attendance at this workshop, mostly young people. Black Lives Matter faciitator Becky and her team of 4 others (Brook, Sam, Nathan and Liz) spoke of their social justice backgrounds, wanting to “build community and a movement” for white people to strengthen leadership skills and learn tangible tools to dismantle white supremacy in America. She spoke of racism being systemic, a problem being that “power & wealth are in a few white men”. After the welcome/guidelines/values of the day, the group broke into 2 person dialogues about what brought them to the workshop & earlierst memory of racism. Then there was a forum theater of the oppressed, in which people role played racist situations and how to handle them, esp. how to imagine another or different narrative/way the situation could have happened. The sample forum theater was about a guy at a party saying that “All Lives Matter” and questioning why there was a need for “Black Lives Matter” activism. The group I participated in was a dialogue between an older white man saying he approved of racial profiling of black and Muslim men, and a younger woman questioning his statements. The workshop continued after lunch w/ more dialogue circles and a creative discussion about moving toward action. Stay tuned for more workshops. A few people of color did attend – 3 blacks, a Hispanic and me.

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