We know that the work of building a thriving multiracial democracy begins with us and how we are with each other.
Thank you for collectively holding these values and practices so we may live out our commitments to justice as we gather, learn, and take action together. These were drafted for our in-person conference and we believe they are still an appropriate set of guidelines for our time together online.
We know the fight for justice and equity will not be easy or simple and requires us to take risks and act boldly. We act with integrity and we seek wisdom from our Jewish and social movement traditions and ancestors to guide us.
For Pursuing Justice, we have designed programs and invited speakers to speak to the most critical issues of today with the intention of moving us towards action and actualizing the vision for the multiracial democracy we know is possible.
We recognize the power and importance of working in community with others. Through partnership and collaboration, we are able to leverage the unique strengths of our partners and allies and learn from the broader movement for justice. We create authentic relationships with other directly targeted communities and follow their leadership when seeking solutions to structural injustices.
For Pursuing Justice, we designed a collaborative planning process with a range of voices from our community. We are excited to lift up the work of our leaders and partners and learn from our presenters with open hearts and minds.
We honor and protect the dignity and inherent right of all people to live in freedom and safety. We recognize the historic impact of structural inequalities and the compounded nature of intersectional inequalities. We pursue justice for all people by eradicating systems and structures of oppression.
For Pursuing Justice, we have sliding registration to make the conference more financially accessible. We will make space for people of color to be together for holding and healing, acknowledging that being in multiracial community can cause harm. We will make space for white folks to learn and be accountable to Bend the Arc’s anti-racism commitments. We commit to gender neutral bathrooms, to no all-male panels, and to respect chosen pronouns. We commit to providing accessibility accommodations for individuals of all abilities. We know that oppression will inevitably show up in this space and we will lean into the practices and structures below to name oppressive behavior and repair harm.
We are in this work for the long haul. We persevere through challenges, find creative solutions to problems, and create loving, meaningful, joyful community to help sustain us.
At Pursuing Justice, we will prioritize safety for all participants. We know that working primarily with law enforcement prioritizes the perceived safety of some in our community over others, namely through targeting people of color. Our safety plan will rely on our community expertise and use a tiered security system with calling law enforcement as a last resort.
We prioritize wellness and are committed to levity, joy, art, music, laughter, and mutual support in the face of the challenges we face. We recognize that leadership requires risk and we approach our work in a spirit of continuous learning and improvement.
We choose goals and campaigns that we believe will be effective in making lasting and systemic change that will impact people’s lives. At Bend the Arc, we focus solely on domestic issues because we know the majority of American Jews care passionately about what happens here in the U.S., and because we believe this strategic focus will allow us to have maximum impact on our domestic agenda.
It is our hope and intention that Pursuing Justice will give us the tools, fuel and connections to turn learning into action in our home communities. We come together to deepen our relationships, our strategic thinking and collective impact.
We recognize that many Jews attending the conference have other justice priorities that extend beyond Bend the Arc’s domestic orientation, including but not limited to Israel/Palestine. We do not ask you to leave your beliefs, values, or commitments at the door; all of your visions are welcome here. At the same time, we want to support your conference experience by making clear that the program will reflect Bend the Arc’s mission and scope.
Acknowledge and celebrate difference: We bring many identities, cultures, and experiences into this space, including, racial, ethnic, religious, class, gender expression, sexual orientations, and abilities. Speak from your own experiences. Don’t assume anyone’s religious affiliation based on their race or ethnicity and understand that questions exploring someone’s identity(ies) and Jewish background may cause pain or offense. Don’t assume there is a universal Jewish experience, that Jewish culture is synonymous with Ashkenazi culture, or that all Jews come from the same class background. Respect gender expression: if you aren’t sure of someone’s gender, know that they are in the right place (i.e. whatever restroom they are in). Don’t ask them about their gender identity. Do notice someone’s pronoun on their name tag so you can address them respectfully.
Take responsibility and work to build trust: Practice “Oops and Ouch”: If someone says or does something that doesn’t feel right, lean into sharing feedback to let them know, and if you think you’ve said something that caused harm, be proactive in taking responsibility. We participate in the Jewish practice of teshuva: we will make mistakes. We will reflect. We will take concrete steps to repair the harm caused. We will ask for forgiveness and offer it as we build deep trusting relationships.
Watch and help shift power dynamics: Pay attention to power and influence in the group, and name it. Shift power by ensuring that the voices of the dominant culture are not the only ones heard. Take space and make space: if you generally hold back, try to speak up. If you speak up frequently, try listening.
Lean into tension and discomfort: Tension and discomfort are often inevitable in group spaces, but can be a source of productive and creative conversation when entered into thoughtfully. Lean in when you feel it! We also know that this work has real-life implications for us all. Work to be comfortable with the sharing of experiences and expression of feelings – without having to “fix” them or over-intellectualize.
Practice gratitude and appreciation: This work is challenging and risky. We express gratitude for one another and our contributions. We appreciate the labor that goes into making these spaces possible, including hotel staff, Bend the Arc’s staff, presenters, all who volunteered time and energy, and each other.
“If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution,” aka FUN: We are tackling some big and challenging issues together. We’ll be supplying some fun throughout the program, but please bring your sense of humor, smart wit, and general sass. Let’s make our Jewish social justice movement irresistible!
We know that the work of building thriving multiracial community means creating something we have never truly seen before. We are committed to supporting each other in upholding these values and practices through these accountability structures. We are learning and unlearning, practicing and transforming.
Pair or group support: Do you want to sign up for a chevruta (study partner) or group to be connecting with about your experience at the conference? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you ahead of the conference.
Check in and take time: We will provide opportunities in our program to check in with these practices individually and together. Take care of your needs by taking time in our Wellness and Quiet Spaces, participating in program offerings that support wellness (such as yoga, ritual, and meditation), and attending identity-based caucus and affinity group spaces.
Harm processing and repair: If you experience harm caused by an offensive comment or behavior that conflicts with a value or practice above, we encourage you to say something if you feel comfortable (let’s all learn how to listen and receive this important feedback) or visit the healers available for support (somatic practice, mediation, coaching/processing) in the Virtual Hallway.
Conference feedback: If you have feedback on Pursuing Justice, we want to hear it. You can give us feedback at the registration desk, participate in the instant surveys after each session, and/or fill out the end-of-conference survey for integration into future Bend the Arc gatherings. If feedback is actionable in the moment, we will do our best to incorporate it.
Bend the Arc is uniting a movement of tens of thousands of progressive Jews across the country who are fighting for justice and equality for all. We are the only national Jewish organization focused exclusively on social change in the U.S.