Transformative Action Network

What is the Transformative Action Network (TAN)? 

Transformative Action Network members are committed to co-conspirator abolitionist action, in line with restorative justice principles.  

By learning to relate effectively with racism and interrupt patterns of white supremacist culture, TAN members become allies and co-conspirators to Black and Brown community members. Using restorative justice work, TAN is helping Timebank build resilience instead of fragility, action instead of silence and solidarity instead of hierarchy. Abolitionist restorative practices become powerful tools that enhance mutuality and respect across gender, race and class lines. They lead to the kind of collaboration that can move Madison beyond anemic liberalism to real progressive alternatives. Anti-racist restorative practice among Timebankers is leading to racial justice.  

As James Baldwin wrote, “Any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible – and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people – must be prepared to “go for broke.” As a network, we are striving to give racial justice everything we have. 

About TAN 

How to Get Involved

Projects

Going For Broke

  • Posted on: 6 May 2020
  • By: Marin Smith

“Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time.  Everyone in this room is in one way or another aware of that.  We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how unpopular that word has become in this country...To any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible – and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people – must be prepared to “go for broke.”  Or to put it another way, you must understand that in the attempt to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty, when it is operating not only in the classroom but in society, you will meet the most fantastic, the most brutal, and the most determined resistance.  There is no point in pretending that this won’t happen.” - James Baldwin, 1963

 

The first time I heard this quote from James Baldwin, I felt it deep in my chest, somewhere between my heart and stomach. Reflecting on this feeling I realize that it was a combination of pure resonance, passion, and unease. In a world where we are taught to please, knowing that many of the things I have and will do will make others upset, and put myself at risk, is ultimately how I know I’m doing something right. This, to me - the unquestioning devotion to collective wellbeing despite risk - is what it really means to “go for broke”. 

So many people before us have spent their lives going for broke. From Marsha P. Johnson and Angela Davis to Sojourner Truth and Audre Lorde, not to mention the hundreds of unnamed devotees, many dedicated people have put their lives on the line (and faced the very real consequences) when it comes to abolitionism and liberation. So, when we talk about being a co-conspirator, that means much more than supporting these movements, but also being willing to put ourselves at risk for the sake of these movements’ progress. 

The element of risk is important to co-conspiracy because it means that one’s beliefs transcend the systems and structures in place that benefit them. They are willing to sacrifice those benefits in order to support the people who these systems harm. If someone is unwilling to give up the things that benefit them for the sake of collective growth and repair, then they are ultimately still concerned with self interest. Interests that benefit one and not all are what perpetuate white supremacy and capitalism, and impede any sense of mutual accountability. As such, it is my belief that feeling like you’re risking something when doing abolitionist work, means that you not only have a stake in it, but that you’re doing something right. That’s not to say that abolitionist work is all about doing “right” or “wrong”, but it does mean that this work is that which benefits everyone, together, in order to achieve freedom from the legacy of violence and racism in this country.

With this, I would like to directly reference our excellent co-conspirator checklist.  In order to consistently support abolitionist restorative justice work, we all must implement the facets of this checklist into our daily lives and understand that co-conspiracy is not a single act, but a livelihood, a continued state of being, and ultimately, a willingness to risk it all to “go for broke”. 

Here are some ways to get involved with TAN and go for broke:

Media watch

Letter writing campaign

Tan orientation 

 

Flagpole image

Tiers as a Model for Racism

  • Posted on: 21 April 2020
  • By: Gretchen Trast

As parents and caregivers are well aware, childcare during this pandemic has been an obstacle that our community has had to tackle together. However, caregivers have often had to go at this alone. Like in all times of crisis (Hurricane Katrina, 2019 wildfires in California, Hurricane Sandy, etc), the gaping social inequalities present in our communities are even more exacerbated. Further, responses to meet the needs of those who are deemed essential and vulnerable are prioritized and continue cycles of oppression rooted in racism, sexism, classism, and educational elitism. In the state of Wisconsin and the Madison community, this is happening with our child care system. 

 

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), as of March 26, released information for families, providers, and who they consider essential workers, about child care resources. The information circulated by DCF is representative of Governor Evers’ Stay-At-Home order, where essential activities have been deemed those that “engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety.” 

 

Yet, there is an order to who is prioritized to be essential. The order suggests that child care settings should prioritize care for families based on a tier system. The tiers are as follows: 

Tier 1: employees, contractors, and other support staff working in health care 

Tier 2: employees, contractors, and other staff in vital areas including but not limited to military; long term care; residential care; pharmacies; child care; child welfare; government’ operations; public safety and critical infrastructure such as sanitation, transportation, utilities, telecommunications; grocery and food services; supply chain operations; and other sectors as determined by the SEcretary of the Department of Children and Families. 

The elements of this order that I want to draw attention to are bolded. 

 

Broadly speaking, long term care and residential care (nursing home facilities, assisted living) in other settings are not considered as entirely separate from other health care workers. They are all direct care workers who perform tasks essential for health and safety. However, this separation is natural for the government and powerful people because it is representative of covertly and overtly racist policies that have contributed to segregation. This separation of direct care workers is based on the workforce demographics and educational and occupational status. 

 

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a national organization that works to ensure quality care for older adults and people with disabilities by creating quality jobs for direct care workers, has studied the demographics of direct care workers, including long term and residential workers. In their 2020 annual report, they indicate that 59 percent of direct care workers are people of color. Home care workers, which would fall into the Tier 2 category, are 62 percent workers of color. Further, the direct care workforce heavily relies on immigrant workers where approximately one in four were born outside of the US. 

 

The health care staff that are privileged in Tier 1 can be considered hospital workers, such as nurses and doctors. As of 2017, the nursing workforce in the US is 80.8 percent white, reported by the National Council of State Boards Nursing. Overall, when holistically compared to the long-term care workforce, nurses and doctors have higher educational and occupational statuses which often come from means of access to wealth and privilege. Based on how the systems of domination operate in the US, we all know that whiteness is increasingly interrelated to wealth and privilege. 

 

Overall, the Stay-At-Home order Tier system intensifies the gap between white folks and communities of color’s equity in access to child care--an essential service. Even before the pandemic, accessible and affordable child care services in Madison was slim to none and reaching crisis levels. The majority of services are not affordable for low income communities, do not accommodate the second and third shift workforce, and do not reflect culturally responsive care. Ultimately, while this analysis is centered on race, it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the intersections of identity to include that it is primarily Black and brown women who are feeling the effects of this system most intensely. 

 

Right now, we need to collectively recognize the fundamental value of all care workers and recognize divisive measures that claim we need to “prioritize” accessibility. Since the Tier system in the executive order is not being considered for edits, it is important to understand access to child care as an indicator for broader, systemic issues and as a service that severely affects the wellbeing of families who are part of communities of color and one-parent households.

 

Sources: 

DCF Covid-19: https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/childcare/providers 

Tony Evers Stay-At-Home Order: https://evers.wi.gov/Documents/COVID19/EMO12-SaferAtHome.pdf 

PHI 2020 Annual Report: https://phinational.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Its-Time-to-Care-2020-PHI.pdf

National Council of State Boards Nursing national nursing workforce study: https://www.ncsbn.org/workforce.htm  

Ending Violence Against Black Children: an interview with Dr. Damita Brown

  • Posted on: 7 April 2020
  • By: Ryan Eykholt

 

 

 

Freedom Inc and the Transformative Action Network is collaborating on a letter writing campaign to demand the end of violence against black children in Madison. This coordinated abolitionist effort will bring together members of the community to make sure injustices against children do not go unseen, unchallenged, or met with silence. Community members will write letters directed to media outlets, school administrators, city officials and community based organizations to urge them to address the the structural and physical violence Black youth face and to take anti-racist action. 
 

To further explain the goals of the letter writing campaign, here is an interview between Ryan Eykholt, member of the Transformative Action Network Coordinating Committee, and Dr. Damita Brown, Restorative Justice Director at the Dane County TimeBank. Damita is a community based educator with experience in restorative justice circles and anti-racism workshop facilitation using creative process and contemplative self awareness practices. 
 

RE: How did the letter writing campaign emerge, and what inspired it? 
 

DB: I think there are a couple of sources of inspiration for it. One was the ongoing work that Freedom, Inc. is doing around getting police-free schools. They have been looking at the dangers that our kids face with respect to that in the schools for a lot of years now. So I knew that that resource was there, and it’s always in the back of my mind, like how to work with them. And the other direct impetus was that I was mentoring a kid that got arrested at gunpoint in December. He was a kid with special needs, he had an IEP. He was already kind of limited in his social environment because he didn’t go to school all day. I think he was in school for like three hours a day. And so, he was already experiencing some isolation. But after he got arrested, I reached out to his mom about showing up for the hearings and supporting her in whatever way we could. She was afraid that the judge might look at our presence in the courtroom unfavorably. And we couldn’t publish any information about the arrest. I felt like my hands were tied, and I also heard a lot of other stories, that young black kids are facing a lot of violence. Structural, physical, and cultural violence in Madison. So, we wanted to do something around ending that violence, and the letter campaign came out of that. 
 

RE: In your piece ‘Choosing Liberation’, you talk about ‘unpacking white dominated identity structures’ and rewriting ourselves within a racial/black liberation narrative. How do you see the letter writing campaign as an individual and collective action that helps to make the liberation narrative thrive? 
 

DB: That’s a great question. Because I think, at any given moment, we all have an opportunity to start fresh. Whatever we haven’t done in the past or we’ve done poorly, or maybe we haven’t responded at all, all those things go out the window the minute we take the new act. Every moment is an opportunity to do something differently, or do the same thing you did before but do it again. So, we need to keep giving ourselves opportunities to act. The question isn’t whether we ever did it right in the past or if we don’t know how to do it now, but to create so many opportunities to practice ending this violence. The actual practice of ending this violence, and speaking about it is an incredibly powerful way to transform this narrative. If we are worried about what to say, or afraid that we’ll be considered too radical or maybe a race traitor – I’m not sure what internal dialogue people are dealing with, but whatever that is, let’s air it out. 
 

RE: What are the strengths of restorative justice for responding to crisis? How does the mission of restorative justice overlap with the letter writing campaign? 
 

DB: One of the interesting things about restorative justice, especially as it’s being implemented in the Madison community, is that it already is experiencing a lot of co-optation. We’re looking at how it’s being implemented into the school district. It’s been going on at different capacities for many years. Recently, because of the alternatives to ticketing initiatives that have changed the dynamic somewhat, we’re getting a much more defined picture of how the disparities have been getting created in terms of incarceration and police contact with our communities and our youth. People like to talk about how the numbers are going down in terms of citations, because of restorative justice. And that’s good. But we need to be asking ourselves if the outcomes are also changing in terms of what black communities look like. Are incarceration rates changing? Are our children getting the kind of skills and academic resources that allow them to show up in their communities as leaders, to be able to understand and experience their own sense of power and to thrive? Are they getting that sense of being valued members of their community? Are they still experiencing the level of white rage and hostility in their schools that they did before these numbers started to change? With police contact that they’re having in schools, they’re being pretty much surveilled. Every moment they’re in school, there’s a cop there. Are we changing their level of contact with police? Or, are we creating school environments in which kids are being policed all day? The school-to-prison pipeline, is that changing? 
 

If we can look at the numbers in Dane County and see how they compare to the rest of the country, we’re one of the worst. We’re one of the worst, and other Midwestern states are also horrible, disproportionate compared to the rest of the country. I like the fact that people are thinking about alternatives to ticketing, but officer discretion has not been removed, and it is still very much a matter of normalizing this kind of structural violence in the lives of our kids. 
 

We can’t forget the kid who had a bag put over his head when he was being arrested. We can’t forget the 8- and 9-year-olds who have had the law enforcement called on them by their principals. What principal in this school district does not know how to handle an 8-year-old? If you do not have enough trust and respect with your 8-year-olds that you can’t resolve a conflict without calling the police, should you be in that job? I don’t think so. I think if there’s enough white rage in our schools to where 8- and 9-year-olds are having the police called on them, that’s a crisis right there. This is not an isolated incident. We started this interview talking about the 14-year-old who was arrested in December. It goes on all the time. Let’s look at the crisis of that. I don’t want us to always be feeling like we’re in crisis mode. But if there’s one that needs to be handled, let’s not pretend like it’s not there. 
 

RE: What are the best ways for people to get involved with this letter writing campaign?
 

DB: Upcoming this week, we have a session people are welcome to join – Friday, April 10  from 7-8pm – where people can come and learn what the campaign is about, and figure out how to set up a letter writing Zoom session with their peers. There will be a template of the letter. The campaign launches for the broader community, April 24th. We’ll talk about different forms of the template because some letters will go to editors, some letters will go to the school board, some letters will go to the city council, so how to target the community you want to address the letter to. This week we’re just starting with the people who signed up during our Open House to get them to know how to host a letter writing meeting on Zoom. Then, the idea is to expand out from there and the people who come to those initial instructional meetings can learn how to set up their own letter writing gathering online. Exponentially, we’ll have more and more of these meetings. Over time, we’ll generate hopefully hundreds of millions of letters.

Open House

  • Posted on: 1 January 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

The Restorative Justice Open House at the Timebank is a gathering intended to offer the general public music and other entertainment and refreshments to provide a easy going, activity based and fun environment in which to  exchange ideas and learn from each other about restorative justice and current projects.

The Open Houses are currentlly on hold due to COVID-19. The next date for an Open House will be announced in the future. 

MediaWatch

  • Posted on: 1 January 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

The objectives of MediaWatch team are to:

1) Respond to the need for independent media that is diversified and at all levels

2) Create opportunities for independent media to collaborate with grassroots communities

3) Encourage people to respond to racism in the media and,

4)Interrupt how info is shared that perpetuates white supremacist culture

End Violence Against Black Children Campaign

  • Posted on: 1 January 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

The (Taskforce) Campaign to End Violence Against Black Children began as a response to the arrest of black children. In December of 2019 a 14 year-old was arrested at his middle school. He is not in custody. Lincoln HiIls is full of Black children. Why is it acceptable for Black children to be locked behind bars? The task force asks, what kinds of institutional violence is taking place in our schools and other institutions that normalize this kind of violence? The goal of this Taskforce is to create greater visibility of this problem and decriminalize Black youth. The focus is on broadening the conversation about this violence and compelling white allies to address the role of hypersegregation as a form of structural violence that bolsters and normalizes violence aginst Black children.

Coordinating Committee

  • Posted on: 1 January 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

The TAN Coordinating committee is modeled after the SNCC in the sense that it seeks to engage in participatory democracy and build alliances on the basis of co-conspirator, abolitionist and racial justice principles. This work is guided by the writing of Bettina Love and Ella Baker. The purpose of thie committee is to coordinate the work of the Transformative Action Network. 

The current members of the TAN Coordinating Team are: 

  • Damita Brown, Director of the TimeBank Restorative Justice Program
  • Gretchen Trast
  • Marin Smith
  • Ryan Eykholt
  • Shayne Gerberding  

Vision

  • Posted on: 1 January 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

Getting involved with TAN means first taking an orientation that explores diaspora identity and racial disparities. The diaspora activity gives participants an opportunity to examine elements of entitlement and dispossession connected to identity, history, and perceptions of belonging. At the core of this introduction to diaspora identity is the question: ‘how does one’s personal investment in narratives of domination perpetuate white supremacist culture?’ In any given moment, we have a choice about which narrative we’re going to subscribe to. That choice is enacted in our every day actions. By examining our own cultural identities, we create the possibility of dismantling hierarchies grounded in privilege, racism, and ignorance.

 

Approaching racial disparities from the perspective that we all inherited the social conditions and inequities that we’re experiencing provides further opportunity to change the way we act. We can transform the cultural practices that we have inherited. Transformative Action Network takes this as its first priority. Within this context, ‘action’ is not grounded in guilt or shame or blame. Rather, it emerges from a self-awareness and conviction about personal power to make change. We engage in this work through Community Lab for Intentional Practice (CLIP) and other opportunities to build collaborations and to seek out co-conspirator alliances that end racial disparities. 

 

Our CLIP labs are loosely guided by the work of Dr. Bettina Love and her book ‘We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom’. The abolitionist approach is valuable because it is committed to the idea of replacing institutional harm. The educational survival complex is something that is replicated in all of our institutions. We use that premise in building collaborations with other organizations and groups that seek to do similar abolitionist and anti-racist work in other institutions.

 

Abolitionist / Co-Conspirator Restorative Justice Training

  • Posted on: 1 January 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

The Timebank Tranformative Action Network is presenting a one-day training that meets people where they are on the journey of creating collaborative, sustainable change. Learn how to engage in liberated narratives. Learn how to identify and reject scripted complicity in white supremacist culture. Learn how to trust your heart and those of others in our ability to manifest justice on the spot. Build solidarity within and across communities of color. This intensive will challenge you, support your existing liberation practice and, help you connect with other like minded folks.

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