On Wednesday, September 21st Rise Up: A Racial Justice Conference held its inaugural meeting at the California Endowment Center. Sponsored in part by DCFS and Signature Bank, people of like minds gathered from various organizations and community partners to address both the racial and social inequities that continue to plague our community.
The day began with a stirring video with images of oppression and discrimination. Though the images were hard to see it was essential for all of us to see where prejudice had taken us before looking forward to the triumphs of inclusivity. We talked about how assumptions can lead to discrimination. We talked about privilege and that this social construct can leave us at an advantage or disadvantage within our society. Thank you not Fanta Ritchie and Daniel Bustamante who led us in these discussions.
Later in the morning we broke for workshop sessions. These sessions touched on topics ranging from multigenerational trauma to mass incarceration. We were honored to have presenters lead with passion and commitment to eradicating systemic racism. We thank all our presenters who chose to join us.
The afternoon of Rise Up was filled with storytellers, performers, and speakers. Regardless of the platform the message of discrimination and advocacy was the same. In the afternoon Bernard Brown, Artistic Director of BB Moves, joined us as he performed a dance piece on the life of Henry “Box” Brown, an enslaved man who shipped himself in a 3x2 box from Virginia to Pennsylvania in order to be free. Following Bernard, we were joined by Dr. D’Artagnan Scorza, who is the Executive Director of Racial Equity for the County of Los Angeles. Dr. Scorza spoke of the systemic racism in LA, that continues to disadvantage our BIPOC communities. Dr. Scorza then spoke of the efforts of his office to acknowledge these systems and the changes that are being made to address them. The Power of Storytelling panel was moderated by Rob McGowan (Diving within) and featured Christopher Harriott (The Healing Chariot), La Toyia Conway-Hampton (Two Life Styles) and Mayra Medina -Nunez (Children Refugee Center). Each had their own story to share and their own journey, but what was evident in all, was the inequities suffered as an immigrant, being LGBTQIA and coming from the child welfare system. Each story showed resilience, perseverance, and a desire to advocate for and serve others.
The afternoon began to wind down with an overview of Penny Lane’s Diversity Beyond the Basics curriculum, a recorded message from Congressman, Tony Cardenas and thank you to all involved.
Rise Up proved to be a wonderful first effort at bringing Penny Lane’s stance on racial and social justice issues to the forefront. It was truly a team effort. Rise Up would not have been so special without the support of the Penny Lane Board of Directors, Executive team, volunteers, and all of our participants. We are truly grateful and are already looking forward to Rise Up 2023!
Thanks so much!
This past month we hosted our last Community Celebration Event at our North Hills Family Center. It was so great to see some of our community partners, donors, board members, and staff IN PERSON!! We were treated to delicious food, drinks, and live music! We even shook off those dancing shoes and let ourselves enjoy the wonderful end to summer this past September. Check out the video below of the highlights!