Creating Change 2009 is off to a great start. Denver is a fabulous host city, even if it's below freezing and there is snow on the ground, we don't have the 12 inches of snow that's being reported back home in Indianapolis (and I hear the weather will be fabulous later in the week.)
Today at Creating Change is all about race and minority inclusion. There are a number of day-long institutes, each with a different angle on minority issues. The sessions are very well attended with most of them being full or over capacity.
The session I sat in on, "Start with the Fundamentals: Anti-Racism Institute for New Activists," is geared (obviously) toward those new to activism. The information is basic, but it's a good foundation for thinking about inclusion for new activists.
Most of the attendees were engaged and excited. The room wasn't full like some of the other rooms, but there were at least 90-100 people in the room. It has been particularly refreshing to see so much diversity in all of today's workshops.
Some of today's sessions are only for people of color, while others are open to everyone. All are divided between sessions for new activists and session for those with more experience. The idea behind "People-of-Color-Only" sessions is to create a safe space where participants can speak freely and openly of their experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
Capacity has been a key concern with today's sessions. About 250 people pre-registered for one institute or another, but well over 400 people showed up. While being filled over capacity is a good problem to have, I can't imagine the facilitators have an easy job wrangling as many as 150 people together toward a common purpose as they would 75.
Still, I think today is probably one of the most important conversations happening in our movement. Coming from a Midwestern perspective, one of the most common on-going discussions in LGBT organizations has been the inclusion of more people of color. In the age of President Obama, we're being told that we're in a "post-racial" world. One of today's conference attendees called that notion, "bullshit." I agree.
While we may not be post-racial as yet, I think there is more impetus now to move toward better minority relations than ever before. The diversity and spirit in the attendees of these sessions at Creating Change speaks volumes in proving that the LGBT movement is working toward better inclusion. Let's just hope that spirit spills over into other parts of society.
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