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The Cultural, Historical, & Political Foundations of Racism | FRE Session 1

Thursday, June 10, 2021 @ 9:30 am - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm


Thursday, June 10, 2021 @ 9:30 am
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm
Event Category:

In order to undo systems of oppression, it is crucial that we begin by understanding the foundations of systemic racism in our country.

This introductory session to the Foundations of Racial Equity Series will offer two modules that explore the historical, cultural, and political roots of race and racism in the U.S. Over the course of these two modules, trainers will help participants understand the origins and applications of racial hierarchies, the four interconnected levels of racism – individual, interpersonal, institutional and structural – and how to begin recognizing and addressing structural racism in the philanthropic field, using practical applications. Our trainers will also help participants explore and understand intersectionality as a form of praxis that helps us to understand and collectively address the common threads between racism and other inequalities.

The information you will learn during this session is essential to understanding the topics covered during the remainder of the series. We highly recommend attending the two modules in this session if you plan to attend the full series or any other individual sessions.

Join us to:

  • Understand the historical, cultural, and political roots of race and racism within the context and frame of white supremacy and anti-Blackness
  • Understand that intersectionality is a lens for seeing the connectedness of race, capitalism, and patriarchy.
  • Begin learning how to normalize conversations and practices of racial equity in institutions/organizations.
  • Learn and discuss relevant language, definitions, and terms.
  • Learn and discuss the four levels of equity: individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural.

Session Info

The Series is made up of six sessions. Each session includes two modules. View all sessions here.

Module A: Thursday, June 10 | 9:30 am – 12:00 noon PT

Module B: Tuesday, June 22 | 9:30 am – 12:00 noon PT

Registration Fees

  • Members: $100 per session or $500 for the full series
  • Nonmembers: $150 per session or $750 for the full series


Cielo Cruz, Lead Trainer & Affiliate, Race Forward

Cielo Cruz is a racial justice educator, facilitator, cultural organizer, and writer. They (Cruz’s singular pronoun) have lived in New Orleans for over 20 years and in that time, worked closely with numerous organizations in the struggle for racial justice, LGBTQ liberation, and immigrant rights. Cruz most recently served in the senior leadership of Race Forward, a national racial justice organization. As Vice President of Movement and Capacity Building, they built a dynamic and diverse team of trainers, coaches, and consultants delivering racial equity training to thousands of employees throughout the non-profit sector. Cruz came to that work after their tenure as Associate Director of VOTE (Voice Of The Experienced) in New Orleans. Previously, Cruz worked with Safe Streets/Strong Communities, the National Immigration Law Center, SEIU 1991, the Hispanic Apostolate, the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans, and People’s Youth Freedom School. Cruz began their racial justice training and facilitation work for the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in the late 1990s. They hold an MA in Latin American Studies from the Stone Center at Tulane University and a BA in Race and Gender Studies from New College of Florida.

MarTaze “Taz” Gaines, Affiliate & Co-Trainer, Race Forward

MarTaze “Taz” Gaines (they, them)  is an organizer, student, and healer. They are a Black and Queer Southerner by birth; a country-footed and hearted, Baltimore born and raised, Atlanta and Nashville taught freedom fighter. Through the gifts of speech, singing, and caring, they fight for the realization of the “Beloved Community.” Much of their guidances comes from their  teachers, their ancestors, and spirit.

Taz’s  organizing mainly focuses on: the abolition of the carceral state; creating joyous and healing spaces; and fighting for justice in all realms for Black Queer and Trans folk. Taz is passionate about the importance of “memory work.” Memory work, through the oral tradition of songs, stories, and rituals, allows for the resistance of colonization. Taz uses visual and musical art to carry forth the torch for Black Liberation.

Taz Gaines earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Morehouse College in 2018 and a Master of Education  in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University in 2020. Currently, Taz works as an affiliate trainer with Race Forward providing racial equity training to people from various industries. They also serve as the Project Coordinator for 24 and None with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

In Partnership With:

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