The Othering & Belonging Conference Summit on Wednesday, April 21 will be a learning space and a caring space, where we can come together to grapple with big questions related to what we face in terms of building a bigger “we,” where we will hold space to honor all that we’ve lost, and where we can collectively envision and strategize for a world where we care for each other and for our living planet. The aim of the O&B 2021 Summit is to help us collectively:
Frame how we think about our work
Address the erosion of trust—in institutions, in groups, with each other, and even in public life—and the deep consequences of a politics of breaking, fragmentation, and polarization
Create a space for grieving and memory, including those who have come before us, those who we have lost, and those who have not been properly mourned in our histories, practices, and stories
Align our diverse efforts in order to build a truly global movement of belonging
Times subject to change, please check this page for agenda updates. All times PST (Pacific Standard Time).
Meditation and movement workshop with Michelle Ayazi
Sarah Crowell: Opening Us Toward Belonging and our Shared Destiny
The Nile Project: A special commissioned piece for Othering & Belonging by the award-winning musical group, followed by an artists roundtable with members of the Nile Project
Bridging, Breaking, and the Power of Belonging: john a. powell
Democracy, Institutions, and Systems of Othering & Belonging: with Astra Taylor, Taeku Lee, Myrna Perez, and more speakers to be announced
Family Hour Workshop with Alphabet Rockers
Talk Story and Meditation with Norma Wong
Toshi Reagon: Special hour of music and talk with acclaimed artist and musician
We Belong to the Earth and We Belong to Each Other: Connection, Climate, and Global Belonging, with Naomi Klein, Tokata Iron Eyes, Xiye Bastida, plus more speakers to be announced
Belonging and Bridging in Practice: Closing with john a. powell
Plus: Throughout the day we will have community networking spaces, a virtual book table with Marcus Books of Oakland, a music space curated by Christian Michael Ivey, and more opportunities for connection and learning. ASL and web captioning will be provided in all mainstage talks. Free and open to the public.
Registration is required, register here today!
Toshi Reagon (photo by Desdemona Burgin)
Tokata Iron Eyes
john a. powell
Sarah Crowell (photo by Kerry Kehoe)
Naomi Klein (photo by Kourosh Keshiri)
Norma Ryuko Kawelokū Wong Roshi
The Nile Project (photo by Habi Girgis)
Alphabet Rockers (photo by Kristin Chalmers)
About the O&B Summit Speakers
Sarah Crowell has taught dance, theater and violence prevention for over 30 years. She recently left her position as the Artistic Director at Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, CA where she served in different capacities from 1990-2020, including Executive Director. Sarah founded and directed the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, which has been the subject of two documentary films, and won the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award. She has facilitated arts integration, violence prevention, cultural humility and team building professional development sessions with artists and educators. Sarah is the recipient of the KPFA Peace award, the KQED Women’s History Local Hero award, the Bay Area Dance Week award, the Alameda County Arts Leadership award, and the National Guild for Community Arts Education Milestone award. She is also a four-time finalist for a Tony Award for Excellence in Theater Education. Sarah is a retired professional dancer, having performed and toured with companies including Impulse Jazz Dance Company in Boston and the Dance Brigade in San Francisco. She co-created the dance/theater company i am Productions! Sarah believes that the arts are an essential component of the journey to social justice, and that movement must be part of all movements for social change.
Tokata (Future) Iron Eyes is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and has been confronting injustice since she was 9 years old testifying against a uranium mine in the sacred Black Hills. Now at 16, she continues to demonstrate her commitment to compelling the world to listen to Indigenous Nations— from the NODAPL movement at Standing Rock to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across the US— she understands the power of media and utilizes her voice to evoke change in complacent hearts. She travels all over the world lifting the collective consciousness in response to the human caused climate crisis. Growing up on the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge reservations, Tokata has received both Western and Indigenous teachings, giving her the natural ability to relate to multitudes and share an uncensored perspective on the uncomfortable truths of colonization and capitalism. Tokata was recently featured on the Marvel Hero Project on Disney+, a series shining light on young people who are changing the world. She is also a singer, songwriter and recently began attending college in January 2020. Tokata hopes to inspire more youth from indigenous communities as well as around the world to use their voice and confront injustice. @tokatawin
Toshi Reagon is a multi-talented and versatile singer, composer, musician, with a profound ear for sonic Americana—from folk to funk, from blues to rock. While her expansive career has landed her at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House and Madison Square Garden, you can just as easily find Toshi turning out at a music festival, intimate venue or local club. Toshi has collaborated with many artists including Lizz Wright, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lenny Kravitz, Jason Moran, Alicia Hall Moran, Climbing PoeTree and Nona Hendryx. As a composer for dance and theater works, she has worked with Michelle Dorrance, Katori Hall, Urban Bush Women and The Jane Comfort Dance Co., among others. Toshi collaborated with tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance to create the Bessie Award-winning The Blues Project and is a composer and performer in Meshell Ndegeocello’s Can I Get A Witness: The Gospel of James Baldwin.
One of her most significant collaborators is her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon. Together, they created two operas with director Robert Wilson, The Temptation of St. Anthony and Zinnias, The Life of Clementine Hunter. Inspired by the visionary and prescient story telling of Octavia E. Butler, Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon created the opera Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, which premiered in 2017 at NYUAD Arts Center in Abu Dhabi and to date, has been performed on four continents.
Toshi is a well-regarded curator and presenter. She was the curator for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Women’s Jazz Festival and has an ongoing relationship with Joe’s Pub in New York City to curate the GOODFolk series. In 2019 Toshi presented Soul Mechanism as part of Carnegie Hall’s Migrations Festival. Toshi co-composed music for two Peabody Award-winning films and received a NYFA Award for Music Composition, the 2010, an OutMusic Heritage Award and The Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She is a National Women’s History Month honoree and was named a 2015 Art of Change Fellow by the Ford Foundation. She is an Andrew W. Melon DisTil Fellow with Carolina Performing Arts, a 2018 United States Artist Fellow, and an Andrew W. Melon Creative Futures Fellow Carolina Performing Arts 2018-2022. Toshi’s latest record Beautiful World will be released in 2021. toshireagon.com @toshireagon
Xiye Bastida is an 18 year-old Climate Justice Activist. She is an organizer with Fridays For Future and the co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative, an international youth led organization that focuses on highlighting the intersectionality of the climate crisis. She was born in Mexico and was raised as part of the Otomi-Toltec Indigenous community. She is the recipient of the UN Spirit award for the year 2018 and currently attends the University of Pennsylvania. @xiyebeara / @xiyebastida
john a. powell is Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously the Executive Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, and prior to that, the founder and director of the Institute for Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. john formerly served as the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is a co-founder of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the boards of several national and international organizations. john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. @profjohnapowell
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. She is Senior Correspondent for The Intercept, a Puffin Writing Fellow at Type Media Center and is the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. Naomiklein.org / @NaomiAKlein
Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy? (TIFF 2018), Examined Life (TIFF 2008), and Zizek! (TIFF 2005); the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York Times, The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Walrus, The Baffler, n+1, and many other outlets. She is a former Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, is now out from Metropolitan Books. @astradisastra
Taeku Lee is George Johnson Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His interests are in racial and ethnic politics; public opinion and survey research; identity and inequality; deliberative and participatory democracy. He is author of many books including Mobilizing Public Opinion (2002); Transforming Politics, Transforming America (2006), Why Americans Don't Join the Party (2011), and the Oxford Handbook of Racial and Ethnic Politics in the United States (2015). Lee is co-Principal Investigator of the National Asian American Survey, co-Principal Investigator of the Bay Area Poverty Tracker, and Managing Director of Asian American Decisions. Lee serves on the National Advisory Committee for the US Census Bureau and has previously served in numerous leadership positions, including as member of the Board of Overseers of the American National Election Studies (twice), member of the Board of Overseers of the General Social Survey, Treasurer and the Executive Council member for the American Political Science Association, Department Chair at Berkeley, and Associate Director of the Haas Institute (now Othering & Belonging Institute) at Berkeley. His previous positions include Assistant Professor at Harvard, Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at Yale, Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Lee was born in South Korea, grew up in rural Malaysia, Manhattan, and suburban Michigan, and is a proud graduate of K-12 public schools, the University of Michigan (A.B.), Harvard University (M.P.P.), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D.). UC Berkeley
Myrna Pérez is director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program, and leads the Program's research, advocacy, and litigation work nationwide. An expert on voting rights and election administration, she is the author of several nationally recognized reports and articles. Her work has been featured in media outlets across the country, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and MSNBC. She has testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights related issues. She is a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School and has also served as an adjunct professor of clinical law at NYU School of Law. She graduated from Columbia Law School, where she was a Lowenstein Public Interest Fellow. Following law school, Pérez clerked for Hon. Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for Hon. Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She previously served as the chair of the Election Law Committee of the City of New York Bar Association. Pérez is the recipient of several awards, including the Puerto Rican Bar Association Award for Excellence in Academia and the New Jersey League of Women Voters Making Democracy Work Award, and was named one of 2014’s 50 Hispanic Influentials by Hispanic Business. Pérez earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Yale University. She obtained a master's degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School, where she was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service. Prior to law school, she was a Presidential Management Fellow, serving as a policy analyst for the United States Government Accountability Office on issues including housing and health care. Brennan Center for Justice / @myrna_perez_
Norma Wong (Norma Ryuko Kawelokū Wong Roshi) is a teacher at the Institute of Zen Studies and Daihonzan Chozen-ji, having trained in Zen for nearly 40 years. She is the abbot of Anko-in, an independent branch temple of Chozen-ji. She serves practice communities in Hawai‘i, across the continental US and in Toronto, Canada. She received her inka shomei (Mind Stamp) as an 86th generation Zen Master of Chozen-ji. Her arts of practice are kado (the way of the flower), shodo (the way of the brush), and Zen cooking. She is a practitioner of Mu-I Tai Ji Zen, developed by Dogi Kow Roshi. Writings include Kuleana Now, In This Tunnel There is a Light, A Leaf Unbound, and short pieces on various topics applying Zen practice and principles to everyday issues and the art of life. Previously Wong served as a Hawai‘i state legislator, on the policy and strategy team for Governor John Waihee with federal and Native Hawaiian portfolios, and community organizing and policy work in the Native Hawaiian (indigenous) community. She negotiated agreements on the munitions cleanup of Kaho`olawe Island, ceded land revenue for Native Hawaiians, and the return of lands and settlement of land issues for Hawaiian Home Lands. She was active in electoral politics for over thirty years.
Wong’s recent work includes strategy and worldview partnership with the Resonance Network; thought partner with Native Organizers Alliance; strategic thinking and transformational development with Movement Strategy Center; strategic thinking and human potential work for networks and coalitions working to end violence against women and girls; faculty and program design for Move to End Violence, an initiative of the NoVo Foundation; strategy and policy support for the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission and community efforts for indigenous self-governance; strategic thinking and team development for Mobilize the Immigrant Vote; and, strategic thinking with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
The Nile Project. From their debut concert, captured live on the 2013 release entitled ASWAN, it was clear that the Nile Project was something completely new. NPR named the recording one of five “Must Hear International Albums.” Fast forward a couple of years—through 2 Africa Tours and a 4-month US Tour with stops at 25 universities, the Lincoln Center and the United Nations—and almost every major media outlet in the US agrees that the Nile Project is much more than just a band.
One of the tightest cross-cultural collaborations in history, the Nile Project brings together artists from the 11 Nile countries, representing over 400 million people, to make new music that combines the rich diversity of one of the oldest places on Earth. Resonant harps and lyres from up and down the river—from its sources beyond Lake Victoria to its delta in Egypt—have learned new musical modes, while buzzing timbres and ingenious polyrhythms support vocals in more than ten languages. Instruments that parted ways millennia before are reunited and pushed into new places. Love songs have crossed geographic and linguistic barriers to forge new, close friendships. Using music to spark cultural curiosity, the Nile Project engages musicians and audiences, encouraging them to feel connected to the world’s longest river and to explore new approaches to its large-scale social, cultural, and environmental problems. In an evolving series of interlocking programs that spring from the concert experience, the project aims to inspire, educate and empower young people worldwide to become Nile Citizens. nileproject.org
Michelle Ayazi is a daughter of Iranian immigrants and a lifelong student of Sufism. She has been trained in the practice of Tamarkoz (Sufi meditation) and is approved to teach Tamarkoz by Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha from Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi, the current Sufi master of the 1,400-year-old school of Sufism of which she is a student. Michelle works at UC Berkeley in the Berkeley Study Abroad Office as an adviser for the University of California Education Abroad Programs in Botswana, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ghana, India, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Russia and South Africa. At UC Berkeley she volunteers her time to offer Sufi meditation instruction for undergraduate students through the popular DeCal course, Tamarkoz: Sufi Meditation, works with the Graduate Assembly offering meditation workshops through the Graduate Student Wellness Project, and works with the Be Well at Work Program to offer meditation for faculty and staff. Michelle received her Master’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in International Education Policy, where her areas of research were spirituality and peace education, and study abroad and peace education.
Alphabet Rockers, founded by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him/they), is an intergenerational group creating brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their second GRAMMY nominated album The Love (2019) lifts up voices of the trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming communities. On The Love, you hear the intergenerational sound of the Rockers, with Kali de Jesus (he/him), Lillian Ellis (she/her/hers), Maya Fleming (she/her), and Tommy Shepherd III (he/him) joining McGaw & Shepherd in anthems for change. With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were GRAMMY nominees in 2018/2020, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Their music, videos, concerts, and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents, and young people of all genders. alphabetrockers.com