Let’s fund reflection time.
A short musing or a not so subtle fundraising pitch for the Disrupting Mainstream History Track at the 2017 Allied Media Conference
In 2007 Grace Lee Boggs, long time Detroiter, philosopher, feminist, activist, and one of the most recognizable Chinese — American icons in U.S activist history, spoke to the often limited ways in which we speak and talk about history. During a panel at the Allied Media Conference, Grace Lee Boggs along with Rob “Biko” Baker and Kazembe Balagun noted that historical accounts too often focus on singular, linear, and binary narratives with a handful of men mostly white in the western sphere leading the charge with masses of unnamed participants occupying the gaps. We see, read, and repeat this history in our textbooks, televisions, literature, and popular media, but what if we could change that? What if we, the People, have been changing that?
For many historians, organizers, storytellers, media makers, archivists, and memory workers none of these conversations are new nor shocking. The production of U.S history has shifted considerably in the past few decades often as a result of social struggles such as the Black Power movement, Red Power movement, Chicanx Rights movement, Disability Rights movement, and the dialogue around Third Wave feminism to name a few. These changes can be seen not only in scholarship and writing, but also in historical archival collections, professional directives, funding priorities, and educational diversification. The work has been plenty, the victories fruitful, but the need for growth and reflection continues.
For this reason, I decided to help coordinate the Disrupting Mainstream History track at this year’s Allied Media Conference in Detroit along with 5 other outstanding women (I appreciate you Ayshea, Rachel, Cory, Caroline, and Eliza). We, the kickbutt coordinating team composed of archivists, media organizers, cultural arts programmers, filmmakers, and overall history lovers, believe that community-based historical storytelling and preservation can empower, and create representations that affirm, support, and create a spirit of self-worth for marginalized communities. We then chose to host these conversations at the Allied Media Conference (AMC) in an effort to go directly to the people already engaged and actively pursuing our track’s vision in their everyday work. For almost 20 years, Allied Media Projects (AMP) coordinates the Allied Media Conference, a conference unlike many others, in the historic and bewitching city of Detroit. Every year people from all walks of media based work including artists, archivists, librarians, musicians, organizers, poets, educators, caregivers, grant writers, and everyone in between converge at the AMC to discuss strategy. Together they dream of a better world using media as a medium to communicate to the world a vision.
Now here’s the catch, going to the AMC can be pricey — say roundtrip flights from San Antonio to Detroit, housing for a group of people, registration for the conference, food, and local transportation kind of pricey. In fact considering the sliding scale price for registration and the solid base of financial support from AMP, the Allied Media Conference is actually on the low scale for conference costs. Financial barriers especially for limited income and working class folks and students often represent the first roadblock to conference attendance. Not only do individuals risk losing wages for missed work days or added expenses such as travel or childcare, they may also fear leaving work unattended whether at an office or on the ground.
Looking back at my professional career, I have been very lucky. When I worked for the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, I learned about the significance of staff growth through conference attendance as well as the value in having an employer that supported these efforts. These moments not only provide opportunities to bond and learn from each other, but also to join together with others working towards the same goals. But the Esperanza is privileged in this way. Not only did we have a supportive director willing to support staff travel and time off, but we also had somewhat flexibility in funding and work responsibilities. Unfortunately, other groups or individuals whether in small or large organizations do not always have what we have. Despite these obstacles, going to conferences or other large gatherings like the AMC serve a valuable purpose in our lives. Too often we forget to take a step back, breathe, and reflect on our work and future goals. Taking a moment to think, work, and dream with others is a necessity. No, it is a duty. As Gloria Anzaldua said, “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”
With all these considerations in mind, the coordinators of the Disrupting Mainstream History track have found a way to offset some of those challenges. Here is where YOU, the reader, comes in.
Please consider donating to the Disrupting Mainstream History track TODAY!
With the monies collected through this campaign, the coordinating team hopes to offer assistance to our track presenters for housing, registration, or snacks for the long days ahead at AMC. These funds can help bring down financial roadblocks and get people to the table to talk and imagine. Together we can DISRUPT MAINSTREAM HISTORY.
Still not convinced? Read about the amazing work of some of our presenters below! Overall the Disrupting Mainstream History track schedule includes panels, presentations, hands-on workshops, mealtime meetups, strategy sessions, tours, and more!
CHECK OUT THE 2017 AMC CONFERENCE PROGRAM
There will be over 200 sessions, workshops, gatherings, and practice spaces this year! A few amazing sessions in the Disrupting Mainstream History track to read up on include the Remixing Archival Videos to Disrupt Mainstream History with Yollocalli Arts Reach, Media Burn, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago History Museum, and The LAMP, SNCC Digital: Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future with folks from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Digital Gateway project, AND the Translating Legends: Preserving Native History of the Americas