Transformative Action Network

What is the Transformative Action Network (TAN)?


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. 

What Is It?

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.

How This Helps

  • Builds community for people who want to do anti-racism work
  • Encourages the transformation of silence into action
  • You can learn practical ways to interrupt, dismantle, and replace white supremacist ways

How to Get Involved

Getting involved with TAN means first taking an orientation that explores diaspora identity and racial disparities. We also encourage you to attend our Open House to learn about restorative justice and our current projects.

For More Information

Please contact Mariah at


The cost of participating in TAN is free, however, we ask for contributions of whatever you can afford that will be used for scholarship funds for Black students.

Who Can Be Involved?

Whether you are a seasoned anti-racist or just starting out your input is needed and welcomed!

Call to Action: In Response to Racism at Patrick Marsh Middle School

  • Posted on: 12 February 2021
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

As you may know 100 Strong put out an open letter to the Sun Prairie School Board and Patrick Marsh Middle School Administration denouncing the racism that a group of teachers carried out at Patrick Marsh through their assignment about ancient Mesopotamia and Hammurabi’s Code, which included a question that asked the 6th grade students how they would punish a slave. Over the last couple of days, the media and the Sun Prairie School District have shifted the public narrative away from the incident itself and instead are targeting those who are working to support addressing and eliminating racism. We want accountability in addressing the deep harm caused all involved.

The Transformative Action Network asks that you break silence now.

How you can help:

We are asking you to call the Sun Prairie School district to share your concerns and demand action. Please share this widely with your networks. If your organization hasn't issued a statement, consider doing so. Ask your members to voice their concerns and demand change. Once you have made calls, contact and let us know you stood with us.

1. Stop the character attacks on YWCA employees.
2. Stop the public misrepresentation of the work relationship with YWCA and Dane County Timebank.
3.Tell us what you are doing to address the racism of your staff and to support the victims of your racism. What best practices are you putting in place to resolve this problem.
4. Community partners should be included in plans for eliminating racism in the Sun Prairie School District. Specifically, Black parents, Black youth, and anyone who cares about ending racism.

Do not allow the conversation to be diverted from addressing racism and white supremacist culture. Please join us in taking action and demanding accountability.

People to call and write:

Brad Saron
Sun Prairie School District Superintendent
(608) 834-6502

Stephanie Leonard-Witte
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning & Equity
(608) 834-6516

Theresa Wisden
Executive Assistant to the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning & Equity
(608) 834-6517

Dr. Steve Schroeder, School Board President
608.834.4005 Home
608.347.9324 Cell


Thanks for your ACTION,
Transformative Action Network

The December Challenge

  • Posted on: 27 November 2020
  • By: Damita Brown

What is the December Challenge? 

By Dr. Damita Brown 

It's been one hell of a year. Recognizing that we all are dealing with personal and social impacts of COVID-19, democracy under attack, racist violence, economic hardships, and more, we need inviting community space to decompress, rally and strengthen our collective resolve. December Challenge is about the power of people coming together. The Transformative Action Network (TAN) of Dane County Timebank would like invite you to finish 2020 with a healing, supportive and determined anti-racist practice grounded in the contemplative practice. Drawing from personal experience, creativity and commitment to addressing racism, TAN participants offered suggested racial justice journaling prompts and daily actions that we can all take over the month of December.  

By participating in the challenge, we send the message that racism does not take the holidays off, and neither will we. The ideas for the prompts include actions and journaling which help educate and transform our habitual patterns. It is the on-going commitment to daily action that makes a difference. Another important part of making lasting change is sustainability - finding ways to keep this work fresh, creative and supported by other anti-racists.  

If we want to change the cultural norms that maintain racism, we will have to examine our investments in white supremacist culture at the level of every institution – family, school, media, finance, government, judicial, healthcare, arts, religion, community organizations and others. The action prompts from which Challenge participants choose offer insights for dealing with each of these institutions.  

When we look at the ways we invest in racists norms, we can begin to question the language, social ques, racist decorum, coercion, expectations, inducements, intimidation, benefits and pay offs of complicity, silence and inaction.   At that point the possibility of building alternative racial justice norms gains more power. Racial justice norms are key building blocks of a socially just world. They include openness, equality, integrity, fairness and bravery, initiative, commitment, willingness to be unliked, regard for common well-being, and rejecting privilege. Perhaps the most important of these is going beyond the us/them logic of divide and conquer to rebuild connection to our common humanity. That work requires understanding the harm of racism and personal commitment to transformation. 

The real challenge is looking in the mirror everyday with enough gentleness, honesty and patience to come away with the confidence to act. Are you feeling brave? Take the challenge.  


How it works: 

Step One: Register here.

Step Two: Join the Zoom meditation session every day at 8 am for a 10-minute meditation session. A meditation instructor will offer meditation instructions as needed.  

Step Three: The journaling prompts for the day will be shared daily. Take 5 or 10 minutes to respond to the prompt in your “racial justice journal”. We recommend that you designate a folder on your computer or get a notebook. You can also make or buy a journal. You will need to date each entry. 

Step Four: Choose an action from the Action Prompts. We suggest you set aside time in your calendar for anti-racist challenge action. That way, the day doesn’t get away from you before you have had a chance to act. 
Step Five: Spread the word. Tell others what you are doing so that more and more people begin to see that support and community and commitment is happening and it plants a seed for them about collective change. Break the silence, make anti-racism visible at the everyday level without shoudifying. 

For more information, write to Dr. Damita Brown, Dane County Timebank, Restorative Justice Director at this email address:


Take the December Challenge! We dare you... 

Action Plan Worksheet

  • Posted on: 16 November 2020
  • By:

Action Plan 101

Charting a path toward abolitionism as a daily practice is not easy. It requires a certain amount of reflection, willingness to self-educate and an ongoing commitment to working with uncertainty, fear, and other discomfort. No matter what social position you hold, it’s important to examine your motivation. What is in it for you? How connected do you feel to others? How separate? Why? Do you compare yourself to others? Why? Where is your power? How do you carry it?

Abolitionist restorative practice is transformative when it shifts the way we relate to power to create substantive and sustainable beneficial impact for those most vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and disregard. Racism manifests in beliefs, practices and systems and replicates itself at physical, structural and cultural levels. Abolitionist practice involves transforming personal entry into this matrix in ways that challenge and replace illicit power with investment in liberated narratives. This means building personal, interpersonal and institutional alternatives.

Answer these questions to find further openings for being a co-conspirator:


  1. What are the first areas you want to dig into?
  2. Where is the reflective awareness building at the individual level?


  1. How do you envision yourselves interacting with other people?
  2. How are you creating spaces that are free from harm?
  3. How are you breaking down us/them narratives?

Enriching Your Action:

  1. What are community-based actions to add to your individual action plan?


Please see the images of the Action Plan Worksheet below for more examples and guidance in creating your action plan!

White Privilege Checklist

  • Posted on: 16 November 2020
  • By:

Peggy McIntosh, Associate director of Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, describes white privilege as “an invisible package of unearned assets, which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks” (McIntosh, 1989).

The following are example of ways white individuals have privilege because they are white. Please read the list and place a check next to the privileges that apply to you or that you have encountered. At the end, try to list at least two more ways you have privilege based on your race.

___ 1. I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
___ 2. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
___ 3. I can turn on the television or open the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
___ 4. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
___ 5. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
___ 6. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.
___ 7. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial responsibility.
___ 8. I am not acutely aware that my shape, bearing, or body odor will be taken as a reflection of my race.
___ 9. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
___ 10. I can take a job or enroll in a college with an affirmative action policy without having my co-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.
___ 11. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
___ 12. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated.
___ 13. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group.
___ 14. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with the “person in charge” I will be facing a person of my race.
___ 15. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
___ 16. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazine featuring people of my race.
___ 17. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
___ 18. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
___ 19. I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.
___ 20. I can enroll in a class at college and be sure that the majority of my professors will be of my race.

Racial privilege is only one form of privilege. What are other examples of privilege? (e.g., privilege based on gender, sexual orientation, class, and religion). Can you think of ways one might have privilege based on these factors? (e.g., that you do not  have to worry about being verbally or physically harassed because of your sexual orientation; or you can be sure that your religious holiday will be acknowledged and represented in store displays, classroom discussions, etc.). Please list these forms of privilege.

Letter Campaign Writer Puts Pressure on Police and Fire Commission

  • Posted on: 9 September 2020
  • By: Ryan Eykholt

We are highlighting powerful letters written through the Letter Campaign to End Violence Against Black People. This Letter of the Week is written by Olivia Barrow and was sent to the Police and Fire Commission, as the PFC gathers public input for the next Chief of Police. 

Please join us in writing letters for the campaign. Our next information and writing session will be Thursday, September 10 at 7:00 - 8:30pm on Zoom. You can RSVP here for the Zoom invitation. 

Our goal is to send 2,000 letters to elected officials, government agencies, schools, nonprofits, local businesses, community organizations, and more, by November 3rd, 2020. So far, we have 1100+ letters. 


June 26, 2020


Subject: End Racist Police Violence in Madison


I’ve been a Madison resident for almost four years. I love this city and all of the opportunities it has given me. I love exercising on the steps of the Capitol early on Friday mornings with the November Project. I love stringing up a hammock in Law Park to swing in the breeze and watch the boats and the ducks. I love biking home on the bike path at night after hanging out with friends. I love doing all of these things without ever thinking twice about whether my presence is welcome in these public spaces. 

I’ve come to understand that Black Madisonians don’t have that same privilege. For them, Madison is one huge white space, and because of the racist prejudices of our police, Black Madisonians know that simply existing in those white spaces means risking harassment, unjust arrest, or death at the hands of cops.  

Knowing all of this, I still would not have thought the answer was to abolish the police as an institution, if you’d asked me two months ago. When I first heard that proposal, I balked, like most middle class Whites did. Of course, the irony is that I already experience abolition every day. In my four years in Madison, I’ve never once interacted with police. I live in a neighborhood that has benefited from decades of investment in live-affirming community services and economic development. And the result is a community where police are not necessary. 

However, the events of the last month have convinced me that the police only exist to keep one kind of Madisonian “safe” — and that is White people like me. And we are kept “safe” by a system built around the basic assumption that Black people are dangerous criminals.

In the 10 days between when I decided to write this letter and finally found the words to say, my conviction has only been strengthened by more examples of outright racism, negligence, and inappropriate decisions by the Madison Police Department. 

  • An 18-year-old Black woman was the victim of an unfathomable hate crime and an act of terrorism by a group of white men, and when she reported it to the police, they said they were too busy to take a statement because they were preparing to stand around and antagonize peaceful protesters. 
  • Another Black woman was struck by a pick-up truck in a hit-and-run incident near UW’s campus, and when MPD arrived on the scene they used pepper spray on her friends and family.
  • Police made the decision to arrest a Black man who was protesting at the Capitol because he made White people uncomfortable inside a restaurant. They brought in nine officers to apprehend a Black man who was “armed” with a bat, which he was not threatening to use in a violent way. And when the man asked why he was being arrested, the police provided no answer, but instead pinned him down in a humiliating way. Compare that to the response to dozens of White men who brought assault rifles to the Capitol a few months ago and were allowed to protest with no hassles. The situation proves that when it comes to dealing with the Black community in Madison, our police force only has one playbook: assume guilt, assume aggression, and prosecute to the absolute maximum. 

We have an unjust police force, creating unjust outcomes for Black Madisonians. This is absolutely morally wrong. 

I condemn the racist violence perpetuated by the Madison Police Department. It is not the work of a few racist cops. It is the result of a system that was built to oppress Black people in order to create a comfortable society for White people by removing Black people from public spaces. 

I stand in solidarity with the Black community, and the courageous leaders of Freedom Inc., Urban Triage, and the Transformative Action Network.

As you evaluate candidates for Madison’s next Chief of Police, I ask that you keep in mind the eight demands laid out in the Campaign to End Violence Against Black People in Madison (a collaboration between the Dane County TimeBank Transformative Action Network and Freedom Inc.)

  1. Remove all harmful punitive policies, practices, and people from school environments, including police, suspension, and expulsion.
  2. We want public institutions to engage in 360-degree accountability through abolitionist restorative justice.
  3. Support and fund a Black-led committee with decision making and implementation power to remedy the deep patterns of harm caused by racist violence in all of its forms.
  4. Using recommendations of said committee, invest in a campaign to decriminalize and humanize Black people.
  5. Provide reparations to said committee to create educational initiatives for the Black community.
  6. Provide reparations for Black land trusts and other remedies for gentrification and hyper-segregation.
  7. Create a truth and reconciliation process to replace the punitive criminal justice system with abolitionist restorative justice.
  8. Adopt the demands developed by the Movement for Black Lives.

Black Lives Matter. It’s past time that the Madison community proved we believe that Black lives truly matter as much as White lives. 



Olivia Barrow


Image: Graffiti on a wall in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 6. | AP Photo

Letter Campaign Writer Calls for Release of Marquon Clark

  • Posted on: 17 August 2020
  • By: Damita Brown

This addition to the Letter Campaign to End Violence Against Black People was submitted by Clinton Otte-Ford. So far the campaign has sent over 1,000 letters.
August 17, 2020

Dear Ms. Phillips and Mr. Enger,
My name is Clinton Otte-Ford, and I am a resident of Dane County. I am following up on the email, copied below, that I sent to you on July 11th asking for the immediate release of Marquon Clark. I am also sending this email as a part of the Dane County TimeBank Transformative Action Network and Freedom Inc.’s Campaign to End Violence Against Black People.

At this point it has been a month and a half since Mr. Clark was detained and held without charges, other than a parole/probation violation that relies on him being a person of interest in a crime that he, again, has not been charged with and claims innocence of. This hold is an abuse of a loophole in a system that claims to consider people innocent until proven guilty. If no action is to be taken at this time, please release Mr. Clark immediately so that he can rejoin his community, one that he has worked hard to support and represent.  

One of the demands of the Campaign to End Violence Against Black People, listed below, that I would like to highlight here is the demand for public institutions like the Department of Corrections to invest in a campaign, organized by a Bleck-led committee, to decriminalize and humanize Black people. Just because a person like Mr. Clark is Black and has come into contact with the DOC in the past does not make him a criminal or less than human. He deserves to be free, protected from exposure to Coronavirus, and allowed to thrive.

Please update me on the status of Mr. Clark’s release as well as any steps the DOC is taking in alignment with the demands listed below.  
Clinton Otte-Ford, Ph.D.  

Demands of the Campaign to End Violence Against Black People:

1. Remove all harmful punitive policies, practices, and people from school environments, including police, suspension, and expulsion.
2. We want public institutions to engage in 360 degree accountability through abolitionist restorative justice.
3. Support and fund a Black-lead committee with decision making and implementation power to remedy the deep patterns of harm caused by racist violence in all of its harms.
4. Using recommendations of said committee, invest in a campaign to decriminalize and humanize Black people.
5. Provide reparations to said committee to create educational initiatives for the Black community.
6. Provide reparations for Black land trusts and other remedies for gentrification and hyper-segregation.
7. Create a truth and reconciliation process to replace the punitive criminal justice system with abolitionist restorative justice.
8. Adopt the demands developed by the Movement for Black Lives.
You can learn more about the letter campaign here.

Community Education on Restorative Justice

  • Posted on: 16 June 2020
  • By: Dane County TimeBank

Dane County TimeBank made this video in response to statements made by elected officials that demonstrate a lack of understanding of restorative justice within our city's systems and institutions. This video is meant to correct common misrepresentations of restorative justice, explain why is is not a personal but an institutional issue, and present a more accurate role of restorative justice practitioners and what we want to see in community justice. 

Open Letter to End Violence Against Black People

  • Posted on: 10 June 2020
  • By: Damita Brown

Open Letter To End Violence Against Black People

by Damita Brown

Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob.
Ida B. Wells


They never stood trial. Their humanity was denied and their lives were taken. For centuries on end, black lives have been considered disposable. And the terror of white violence haunts our communities today. Rightfully so, protesters in Minneapolis call for charges of murder. They are demanding that the officers that murdered George Floyd are brought to justice. What kind of justice can mitigate the harm and the unbearable suffering that this history of violence has brought to bear on the black community in America? How can true justice endure? This question needs to be resolved with a national call for a truth and reconciliation commission. It is not enough to rely on a justice system that has consistently and systematically protected the blue code within the police regime. We know that organized elements of hate are rampant within our police forces in this country. We know that these policing bodies are abusing their power and executing Black men and women. These atrocities occur daily. We can no longer entrust our lives to this institutionalized brutality. Black communities most impacted by this violence must be at the center of any definition about true justice. 

At least in deed, if not in name, these officers are part of a white supremacist group. If they’re not members now, they may well join if they’re convicted. What does justice look like if accountability cannot be exacted at the level of acknowledging the harm that one causes and committing oneself to repairing that harm? The capacity to cause this harm is one this society shares as a whole. It is not enough to try, charge, and convict these murderers. Justice demands that the cultural and structural violence that legitimates their actions is dismantled. We may march in the streets, as well we should, as we did with Michael Brown, as we did with Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor. But what is the mechanism that is driving this killing? As Freedom Inc Director M. Adams reminds us ‘Police are trained to protect property, not life, especially not Black life’. 

This is a spectacle of white hate to satisfying their blood lust and rage against Black people.  What are they trying to tell us by standing over these dead Black bodies. These videos being are part of all of our psyches now. It is terrorism. This mechanism goes beyond “I hate you.” It is also the feeling of the mob, it is smugness and the sense of satisfaction with raw, violent dominance. This is the spectacle that’s being played out. This is the way terror is indelibly imprinted into our minds. No one can unsee that murder. The spectacle has to terrorize, and our witnessing helps accomplish that terror. He was murdered in broad daylight for that reason. They wanted people to see it. The officer asked, ‘you’re a tough guy, aren’t you?’ This is about submission of black people in general. No, we will not submit. We will not bow down. We will stand together. What we need now is solidarity. If you’re outraged, if you’re afraid, if you’re heartbroken or confused, let whatever you’re feeling right now be your stepping stone to struggle for justice. Use that feeling as an act of grace -- it’s a gift of your humanity. Nothing you’re feeling right now needs to be put away or repressed. But we do need to make that feeling a viable place from which to launch collective action. Find your voice and write a letter to End Violence Against Black People. Find your courage and join the protests to amplify that voice. Muster your strength and offer support to Black leaders waging this struggle. Extend your kindness and generosity to the families who are bearing the brunt of this loss. And remember that these singular acts must be sustained with ongoing resistance, vigilance, and resolve. As long as this particular terrorist organization is allowed to take Black lives, commit yourself to its utter destruction and replacement. 


Here are the demands for the Lettering writing campaign:

1. Remove all harmful punitive policies, practices, and people from school environments, including police, suspension, and expulsion.

2. We want public institutions to engage in 360 degree accountability through abolitionist restorative justice.

3. Support and fund a Black-lead committee with decision making and implementation power to remedy the deep patterns of harm caused by racist violence in all of its harms.

4. Using recommendations of said committee, invest in a campaign to decriminalize and humanize Black people.

5. Provide reparations to said committee to create educational initiatives for the Black community.

6. Provide reparations for Black land trusts and other remedies for gentrification and hyper-segregation.

7. Create a truth and reconciliation process to replace the punitive criminal justice system with abolitionist restorative justice.

8. Adopt the demands developed by the Movement for Black Lives.


To join the letter writing campaign, contact the Transformative Action Network committee (

To learn more about other actions in solidarity with the Minneapolis resistance, contact Freedom, Inc. (

Task Force to End Violence Against Black People is asking people to include these requests in their letters. 


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.



DCF Covid-19: 

Tony Evers Stay-At-Home Order: 

PHI 2020 Annual Report:

National Council of State Boards Nursing national nursing workforce study: