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Oct 1, 2020
3:30 am
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Museum of the African Diaspora, Flyaway Productions, Prison Renaissance and Bend the Arc Jewish Action present

Finding Mercy: Black & Jewish Voices against Mass Incarceration

Bringing together prominent Black and Jewish change makers, this panel discussion will amplify their voices, including Jews of color, and the call for racial justice via an end to mass incarceration. Both historically and currently, where do anti-Blackness and anti-Semitism intersect? How has white supremacy been fueled by both these practices? And how can Black and Jewish activism work together to address systemic racial oppression through the criminal justice system and mass incarceration?

Opening with award-winning poet and prison reform activist Tongo Eisen-Martin, the panel includes Eric Ward, Emile DeWeaver and Ash Lynette. Robin Levi will moderate the discussion.

This program is presented in conjunction with Meet Us Quickly With Your Mercy, the second in a trilogy of outdoor aerial public art performances addressing the devastating effects of mass incarceration. The dance brings an intersectional feminist and racial justice framework to explore the failures of our criminal justice system. Partner Bend the Arc Jewish Action Bay Area is fighting for criminal justice reform in California and stands in opposition to Prop 20 on November's Ballot.

Learn more about No on Prop 20.

A digital exhibition of art curated by Rahsaan Thomas, co-founder of Prison Renaissance, and comprised of works by residents at San Quentin State Prison will be presented in September in advance of the panel discussion.

After you register you will receive information to join the programs via zoom

Eric K. Ward, Executive Director, Western States Center. A national expert on the relationship between hate violence and preserving democratic institutions, governance, and inclusive societies, Eric brings nearly 30 years of expertise in community organizing and philanthropy to his role as Western States Center’s Executive Director. He also serves as a Senior Fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Since his civil rights career began in the late 1980s, Eric has worked with community groups, government and business leaders, and human rights advocates throughout the country to expose and counter white nationalist hate groups, protect vulnerable communities, and make our democracy more inclusive.

In addition to his work at Western States Center, Eric is the co-founder of Funders For Justice and serves as a board member for The Proteus Fund and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), a nonprofit agency that provides artists with strategy and support for their activism and philanthropy. A contributor to the Progressive Media Project from 2008 to 2014, Eric has been quoted and cited extensively by national media and is the author of multiple written works including “Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism.”

Emile DeWeaver co-founded Prison Renaissance while serving a 67 year to life sentence. His organization is the first nonprofit founded and run by incarcerated people. His aim is to take prison administration out of prison programs as a step toward prison abolition.

Ash Lynette serves as the Senior Resource Organizing Associate with the Ella Baker Center (EBC). Ash works with supporters to help draw connections between EBC’s political work and efforts to fund the movement. Ash leads efforts that expand EBC’s capacity and builds the enthusiasm and participation of engaged donor.

After working in several domestic violence service agencies, Ash grew frustrated with the reliance on police-centered "solutions" and went in search of community-rooted alternatives. Ash completed their B.A. in Politics and Genders Studies at Brandeis University, and holds a Masters of Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley. They love going on hikes, thinking/talking about the end of capitalism, and hanging out with their foster pups.

Robin S. Levi  is a women’s human rights consultant who writes and speaks on women’s human rights in the United States. In addition, Robin is currently an independent college counselor. Until recently, she was College Outreach Manager at Students Rising Above, which supports low-income, first generation students in applying to and then successfully graduating from college.

Until April 2012, Robin was the founding Human Rights Director at Justice Now, which partners with people inside women’s prisons to build a safe, compassionate world without prisons. Robin is also the co-editor of “Inside the Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons.”  A 1993 graduate of Stanford Law School, Robin has written and spoken extensively on women's human rights here and abroad including the Women’s Institute for Leadership for Human Rights, the Drug Policy Alliance and the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.  

Robin was one of the founders and organizers of the Intersectionality Caucus at the First Preparatory Committee of the World Conference Against Racism where she led the efforts to draft a statement and lobby points to ensure the integration of gender into the preparation and work of the Conference.  

Robin enjoys baking, knitting and her weekly shabbat dinner celebrations with husband, two daughters and her father.

Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. His book titled, “Someone’s Dead Already” was nominated for a California Book Award.

His latest book “Heaven Is All Goodbyes” was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award.

This program is presented in conjunction with Flyaway Productions, Prison Renaissance, and Bend the Arc Jewish Action and is made possible in part by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

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