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Major Events

At OBI, we aim to not just produce new research or analytical frameworks, but to share that knowledge in a way that is accessible to diverse audiences, particularly the UC Berkeley campus community, social change practitioners, and grassroots advocates.

In 2021, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we hosted a number of public event — both in person and virtually — towards this end.

Below are just a few highlights from a year of public engagement and interaction.

Responding to Major Events

On, Jan. 8, two days after Trump supporters violently stormed the US Capitol demanding Congress halt the certification of the election results, OBI Director john a. powell and law professor Ian Haney López discussed the event in a livestream Q&A, offering critical context and background for the moment. The speakers reflected on what led to the event, its significance in terms of the stability of our country and democratic institutions, the race and class politics behind these actions, and what needs to happen for the country to move forward. This livestream is part of our Institute's #AskOBI video series, where the public has an opportunity to ask our researchers and affiliated faculty questions on the most consequential events unfolding before us.

Learn more about the event here

This event in the #AskOBI series sought to explain why the phrase “check your privilege” became so common in popular discourse over the last decade, and to interrogate what “privilege” really means? On April 7, scholar and activist Adam Ryan Chang facilitated a conversation with OBI director john a. powell and leading scholars Stephanie M. Wildman and Margalynne Armstrong — who together authored a new edition of Privilege Revealed. They discussed what has changed — and what hasn’t — in the 25 years since the book was first released, and why understanding “privilege” still remains critical to our movements for justice today.

Learn more about the event here

This panel discussion sought to commemorate the centenary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred in 1921 in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although the massacre is not found in most US history books, it is widely regarded as one of the most terrifying events of racial violence to occur in our nation’s history. Armed white mobs murdered hundreds of Black residents and set fire to the prosperous Black area, both displacing and economically devastating thousands of Black residents. While many of the exact details are unknown, recent excavations to locate mass burial sites and interviews with descendants of Black residents are shedding more light onto these events. The centenary event featured a lively discussion among a diverse group of panelists who explored this history, its enduring impacts, and the possibility of reparations—which descendants of Greenwood are currently demanding.

The panelists for the event included Jovan Scott Lewis, Eric Stover, Karla Slocum, Charles P. Henry, and was moderated by Carolina Reid.

Learn more about the event here

May 18 marked the 125th anniversary since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. In acknowledgment of the decision’s lasting impact, this virtual conference offered a retrospective on possible connections between the Supreme Court’s approval of state-imposed racial segregation and ongoing racial disadvantages and inequities. OBI organized the conference in cooperation with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at University of Minnesota and the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The conference furthered discussions started in the recently published journal, Plessy v. Ferguson and the Legacy of “Separate but Equal” After 125 Years, edited by renowned scholars Professors Susan Gooden, Samuel Myers, Jr., and john a. powell.

Learn more about the event here

On June 22, OBI hosted a half-day forum with fair housing advocates and leading race and housing scholars from across the United States for the unveiling of "The Roots of Structural Racism," our groundbreaking project that details just how widespread and harmful racial residential segregation remains, why it matters, who it impacts, and what can be done to reverse it. More than half a century has passed since the enactment of the 1968 Fair Housing Act which officially outlawed discrimination in housing, a key victory of the Civil Rights Movement. But “The Roots of Structural Racism” shows that in far too many cities, segregation has in fact increased, with deeply consequential impacts in terms of people's physical and mental health, access to well-performing schools, job opportunities, exposure to violent police, and overall life outcomes.

Speakers at this event included, Richard Rothstein, Lisa Rice, Demetria McCain, Margery Turner, Ajmel Quereshi, , Stephen Menendian, and Samir Gambhir.

Learn more about the event here

On Sept. 29, OBI held a 90-minute livestream event to launch a new survey on the views of Muslims in the United States. The survey, authored by OBI's Global Justice Director Elsadig Elsheikh and researcher Basima Sisemore, revealed the ubiquity and far reaching impacts of Islamophobia on millions of Muslim Americans, more than two-thirds of whom reported encountering Islamophobia in their lives. But there were positive findings too.

Learn more about the event here

On October 12, Assistant Director Stephen Menendian presented to the California Reparations Task Force on the history and contemporary legacy of housing discrimination and segregation in terms of life outcomes, homeownership disparities and the racial wealth gap, and the relative role of government and private actors. Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, Associate Professor of Geography at UC Berkeley and co-leader of the Economic Disparities cluster at OBI, is one of nine members of the state's Reparations Task Force.

Learn more about the event here

At a time when LGBTQ rights are advancing, why are attacks against trans, queer and/or gender-nonconforming people of color increasing? In this Nov. 2 live stream, we heard from a panel of artists, organizers, and academics including OBI faculty scholar Eric A. Stanley and renowned activist and academic Angela Davis, who discussed this question and others posed by Stanley's new book Atmospheres of Violence.

Learn more about the event here

On Nov. 5, Georgetown law professor Sheryll Cashin presented her new book, titled, White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality, at UC Berkeley, in the first in-person event organized by OBI in more than a year and half. Her talk was followed by a conversation with OBI Director john a. powell, and moderated by Stephen Menendian, OBI Assistant Director who leads the Institute's research on racial residential segregation.

Learn more about the event here

Othering & Belonging Conference

In 2021, we hosted two events within our Othering & Belonging Conference series, a one-day summit, and a two day conference, both streamed virtually. More than 2,000 people attended the summit, which we were proud to make entirely free for registrants, and over 1,000 joined us for the 2-day 2021 O&B Conference.

The Othering & Belonging conferences illustrate OBI’s deep commitment to public and community engagement. They serve as dynamic and highly interactive feedback loops where we can deepen and challenge our thinking, sharpen our strategies, strengthen our relationships, and orient our thinking and visioning in new ways to that build more fair and more just societies. Our conference curation is organized around programming which helps us grapple with challenges such as how we can form and sustain relationships, advance narratives, and build movements that truly support a larger more inclusive “we”.


The 2021 O&B Conference:
Risk & the Courage to Bridge
October 18–19, 2021


At our first three Othering & Belonging conferences, thousands of advocates, scholars, artists, and cultural workers gathered to explore belonging at the interpersonal, inter-group, and systemic levels, as well as to understand the necessity of bridging to achieve true belonging. But in a time of rapidly growing polarization, the accelerating climate crisis, and quickly-disintegrating distrust towards authority and each other, the need to bridge in order to expand our political might and achieve real solutions has only become more urgent. At O&B 2021, we decided to center the notion of risk. Can those of us working towards justice take real risks to expand who belongs in our work—and in our circle of human concern more widely?

The Conference featured a diverse lineup of mainstage speakers, including philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, philosopher, scholar, and poet Báyò Akómoláfé, non-binary performer and writer ALOK, renowned feminist scholar Loretta J. Ross, and interfaith leader Eboo Patel, among many other incredible thinkers.

An entirely online event due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, O&B 2021 featured a number of new offerings to utilize the virtual nature of the gathering, including opportunities for 1 to 1 digital bridging, a filmic poem in three parts featuring dancers and aerialists from around the Bay Area, a virtual DJ Dance Party where attendees could dance from the comfort of their own homes, and pre-event learning labs for advanced knowledge and training.

In addition to mainstage conversations, the 2021 O&B Conference also included 16 breakout sessions where attendees could select the sessions of most interest to them. Sessions included explorations of topics like building technology for belonging, bridging within and across diaspora communities, cross-faith bridging for social justice, and bridging the urban-rural divide.


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Virtual Summit
April 15, 2021


Seeking to stimulate both the head and the heart, the O&B Summit was organized as a dynamic virtual space for artists, scholars, activists, and others working in the social change sector to explore key challenges related to othering and belonging in the US and globally. Topics explored at the Summit included democracy, institutions, and systems of othering & belonging, youth activism around the global climate crisis, and a spotlight on musicians and culturemakers working to cultivate belonging. Read the full recap here and watch videos from the summit here.

Rise Up 4 Justice

In 2020, a Black-led movement demanding police accountability and justice galvanized anger, grief, and frustration over the repeated killings of Black men and women both historically and in the present-day—but also hope for a future rooted in true belonging. Since then, people worldwide have participated in an ongoing uprising that will reshape not only our relationship with Black communities, but also our collective future. This livestream series, which was borne out of our response to the rise of Black Lives Matter and which is curated by OBI’s Civic Engagement Narrative Change project, seeks to create space for cutting-edge conversations among activists, scholars, journalists, and other thought leaders to provide context and analysis on this continued moment of transformation and to envision what comes next in the movement for racial justice.

On Jan. 20, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in on Capitol Hill, ostensibly heralding the end of the Trump Era and a return to Democratic norms. Still, the brightness of the occasion was dimmed by both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken the lives of 500,000 Americans, as well as violent events just weeks earlier, when far-right extremists stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. These two crises—a deadly global pandemic and increasingly brazen far-right activity—are on their surface unconnected. Yet many of the same activists that supported or participated in the coup have also promulgated false information about COVID-19, largely as a tactic to undermine confidence in government, feed racist stereotypes, and build support for their own ideological movement. This panel discussed how the far right has used the pandemic to both exacerbate racial othering and undermine democracy, and how that is being felt on the ground in local communities. What forces have aligned during this crisis moment and how can the progressive movement work to counter them?

Learn more about the event here

The disturbing rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as ongoing police violence against Black communities demonstrate the pervasive nature of both racial animosity between individuals and racial injustice at the structural level. In this Rise Up For Justice livestream conversation, Black and Asian scholars and activists discussed the opportunities and challenges of building a multi-racial justice movement that includes both communities. They’ll explore cross-group tensions as well as pathways to mutual solidarity and bridging, both of which are critical in our collective struggle against racism and white supremacy.

Learn more about the event here

As immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from Mexico, Central and South America, Africa and the Caribbean seek entry into the US at the border with Mexico, the discourse on global migration has gotten shrill and disingenuous. The human rights of migrants are being violated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, Border Patrol agents, police officers, and vigilante groups every day. The root causes of migration and US complicity in forcing people to leave their home countries are obscured. On Aug. 26, a panel of activists and academics came together to shed light on the crisis in US policy that has led to the ongoing displacement and demonization of migrants.

Learn more about the event here

Since the start of 2021, legislators in 47 states have introduced over 561 anti-abortion provisions with 97 new restrictions already in effect, disproportionately affecting communities with barriers to health care. BIPOC, LGBTQ communities, immigrants, young people, rural communities and people with disabilities are put at risk when denied safe abortion access and the right to control decisions about health. In this discussion, panelists reflect on what is happening today and what is coming, in the biggest fight for reproductive justice in a generation.

Learn more about the event here

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