A two-day conference on the relationship between “race and land in Alaska” is being sponsored by the Alaska Humanities Forum on Aug. 6 and 7.
The first day of the conference is limited to “BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) folks,” according to the Alaska Humanities Forum.
The nonprofit, which receives government and private funding, says that both days will “include elements of storytelling, art, conversation, and connection to land and place. This will take place in the Mountain View neighborhood of Anchorage.”
Mistinguette Smith from the Black/Land Project, will be the facilitator of the two day “conversation experience.” Last year, Smith wrote that she was erasing the term “BIPOC.” This year, the conference is dedicated to BIPOC on the first day; this means anyone who is not white.
“After a year of chafing and muttering about it to myself, I am ready to say this out loud. I am refusing the acronym BIPOC. I am taking it out of my mouth. I’m laying it down. I am recommitting to the much maligned term “people of color.” I’m not doing this because I’m old-fashioned or politically retrograde. As a Black woman who loves Black people, I am acutely aware of the unique and specific ways that racism harms Black people. I’m refusing BIPOC to reclaim a strength: the political power of solidarity,” Smith wrote in USA Today one year ago.
“BIPOC – an acronym for Black, Indigenous and other people of color – was part of how we talked about race during the COVID-19 spring of 2020. The term was useful to bring focus to the deadly experiences of oppression faced by Black and Indigenous people. Although some people didn’t like it or didn’t understand it, the term BIPOC filled the streets with multiracial rage about the murder of George Floyd and anti-Black policing. BIPOC reminded us to open our Zoom with acknowledgements that wherever we are, we are on Indigenous land.”
Smith wrote, “People of color is not a racial identity, but a political one.” Yet the conference is racially segregated according to the term BIPOC.
Read Smith’s viewpoints at this link to get a sense of how the August conversation will develop.
Those Alaskans who feel discriminated against by the conference may file a complaint with the Alaska Human Rights Commission at this link.
“This program is still being developed, however, we wanted to give participants the opportunity to save the date on their calendars as soon as possible,” says the humanities forum website.
Partnering in the racially sensitive and segregated event are: Grow North Farm, The Alaska Center, NeighborWorks Alaska, Native Movement, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Alaska Master Gardeners Anchorage, and the Alaska Botanical Garden.