Details

Biography
Topics
Civil Rights Movement
Economy/Economic Visions
Education
Human Rights
Internalized Oppression
Multiculturalism
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
Religion/Theology/Spirituality
White Privilege
Women & Feminism

Chris Crass is a powerful speaker on the themes of coming together for racial justice, why anti-racism is vital for white people, lessons from past justice movements, and how a vision of collective liberation can move us into effective action. He knows that more and more people, especially on campuses, know about white privilege and the injustices in our society, yet few know what to do about it. His passion is working with students, faculty and staff to connect to their deepest values, overcome divisions, and act with love and courage for racial justice.

Chris is the author of two books. His latest, Towards the "Other America:" Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter, a call to action to end white silence and a manual on how to do it. His other book, Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy, draws from his over 25 years as an organizer and educator and offers a firsthand look at the challenges and opportunities of anti-racist work in white communities, feminist work with men, and bringing women of color feminism into the heart of social justice. Chris' essays have been translated into half a dozen languages, taught in hundreds of classrooms, and included in over a dozen anthologies.

As a speaker, Chris' use of humor, storytelling, and historical examples connects with audiences and inspires them to open their minds and hearts to not only the injustices we face, but the work needed to make change. Chris uses his own experiences and historical examples to help audiences feel connected to a living legacy of work for racial justice and gives them tools and support to get involved.

More then just giving a talk or a workshop, Chris Crass fundamentally believes in the capacity of students to be the leaders we need and his faith that love is a powerful transformative force for change, is contagious. Both students of color and white students often comment that they've never heard a white person speak with such passion and clarity about racism. Students also comment that often in conversations about white privilege, white people learn "what not to do," but that Chris offers guidance and encouragement on "what they can do."  

He regularly speaks at colleges and universities across the country as well as at conferences - most recently at the Facing Race Conference held in Atlanta, the 2016 White Privilege Conference, and NCORE 2016, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education.

 

Testimonials

"Chris achieves the difficult task of practice driven theory—encouraging and allowing all of us to be present in our work, to lead with our hearts, and to embody the change that we seek."
— Alicia Garza, Co-founder #BlackLivesMatter

“Chris Crass is an intellectual, political, spiritual visionary. He is the kind of public intellectual and activist we desperately need - in the halls of academia, in our spiritual centers and in the streets.”
— Molly Talcott, California State University, Los Angeles CA

"His vision is a balance between cutting-edge thinking and pragmatic, time-tested organizing work. He lights up the imagination and warms the heart.”
— Allyn Steele, Vanderbilt University Nashville TN

"I've had a number of students approach me to tell me how much they loved your presentation. The faculty shared with me that they thought you did a fantastic job, especially of encouraging students to move around during what is usually a passive experience. Your passion, enthusiasm, and insight on an intersectional approach of oppression are so important, and your inviting way of drawing people into serious conversation on this issue is a wonderful gift."
— Leslie H. Picca, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, University of Dayton OH

“His workshops — one for faculty and administrators, the second for students —each elicited tremendously positive responses, where students, faculty and administrators alike felt like they gleaned critical insight into racial and gender equality.”  
— Vanessa Tyson, Dickinson College Carlisle PA

"Chris Crass speaks the truth to power! You cannot leave his keynote/presentation without realizing the need for all people, but especially white people, to open their eyes, accept the truth and take action. Chris Crass is a courageous white ally and true advocate for peace, equity and justice.  He's an inspiring and refreshing voice!"
— Eddie Moore, Jr. , Director, The Privilege Institute, Director/Founder, The White Privilege Conference

"When we brought Chris to our college, we knew we would get solid workshops on both anti-racist organizing and feminism for men. What we also got was an animated, open and understanding person who was willing to listen to us and cater the workshops to the college's needs. Chris made people feel welcome, involved, and important within these challenging conversations and ideas."
— Dyaami D'Orazio and Zia Kandler, Oberlin College OH

“With compelling honesty Chris Crass shares his journey toward understanding his own privilege in order to become a more effective ally in struggles for justice, providing inspiration and practical guidance for working across differences of race, class, sexuality, and gender."
— Barbara Smith, author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom, founding member of the Combahee River Collective, and editor of Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology

"I asked Chris to speak to my class because of his impressive breadth of knowledge about the history and theory of social justice movements, and practical application of organizing. He tailored his talk specifically to the issues facing students on our campus and area of the country. Drawing from his own experience, he offered insight into organizing around Ethnic Studies, which is a huge issue in Arizona right now, in an accessible and inspirational manner. Everyone was electrified by his presentation."
— Laura Campagna, Cultural and Regional Studies Department, Prescott College AZ

"Chris led our group with skill, sensitivity and great energy. His participative and empowering style enabled us to have richer, more meaningful conversation together, and gave us practical tools to work with."
— Casper ter Kuile, Harvard Divinity School Cambridge MA

“Chris Crass has been at the forefront of building the grassroots, multiracial, feminist movements for justice we need. He is a writer/activist who keeps his eye on the prize: to work for collective liberation, remembering that mine is interdependent with yours. To that end, he draws crucial lessons from applying women of color feminism to anti-racist organizing in white communities, and feminist work with men—lessons that need to be studied and applied widely.”
— Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez, founder of the Institute for Multiracial Justice and author of De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century

Speeches

Chris Crass’s talks can be tailored to be keynotes or highly interactive workshops depending on your needs and goals. He loves working with people new to these ideas as well as people who have long been involved in the work of social change. Central themes in all of Chris Crass’s interactive talks and keynotes include:
• Creating a culture of inspiration to counter despair and build resilience
• Moving through guilt, shame and fear into courage, love, and action
• Inspiring participants to connect to their values and see themselves as part of larger movements for justice
• Supporting white people to see racial justice as central to their own humanity and collective liberation
• Helping men to see gender justice as central to their own humanity and collective liberation
• Rooting our efforts for change in a vision of love for our world, our communities, and ourselves

For Multiracial Democracy: An Introduction to Race, Racism, White Privilege and Racial Justice
Conversations about race and racism are in the news, in communities and classrooms around the country, whether it's about the presidency, neo-nazi violence in Charlottesville, Black Lives Matter, immigration, Islamophobia, or affirmative action. But what is race and what is racism? What is white privilege and why are these conversations critical for everyone to be having? This highly interactive presentation draws out questions and reflections from participants while also looking at the historical development of race and racism in the United States. More then just raising awareness, this is a session to help make sense of the most pressing issues of our time, help us live the values of equality and justice for all in our daily lives, and strengthen democracy in our society. 

Being An Ally for Social Justice
While awareness of power, privilege and oppression is growing on campuses and in many of our communities, the question “what can I do” persists. Using stories from his own experience as a white person coming into consciousness about racism and as a man coming into awareness of sexism, Chris takes people on a journey that many can relate to, yet few speak openly about. Sharing openly and honestly, with humor and humility, about the often painful experience of becoming aware of one’s privilege, and the awkward confusion of trying to figure out what to do, Chris invites participants to explore their own journey and helps them develop frameworks and practical next steps to become allies. For Chris, the work of an ally isn’t just to work to end the injustices impacting others, but to work against supremacy systems that pit us against each other, suffocate our full humanity, and undermine democracy and economic justice for all.

Courage for Racial Justice, Courage for Collective Liberation
How can we be courageous in these times? With racist hate, fear and violence on the rise, this is an interactive presentation that uses story telling, humor, and lessons from social justice efforts historically and today, to help participants understand the impacts of racism and how we can work for an inclusive, multiracial democracy on our campuses, in our communities, and in our country. Because this talk invites participation from those attending, it incorporates the needs, issues, and voices of the campus or community hosting it. It is a talk that both meets new people where they’re at and invites them in, while also supporting the growth of people who have long been involved in these conversations and activism.  

Let’s All Get Free: Toxic Masculinity, Ending Rape Culture, and Why Men Need Feminism Too
Boys are raised to “act like a man,” suppressing all emotions other then anger. They are taught to take control, which often means dominating others. Men are encouraged, in a sexist society, to possess and disrespect women and treat anything feminine as less than. Institutional gender inequity and the epidemic of sexual assault, rape, and sexism on our campuses and in our communities must end. In this presentation, Chris Crass encourages men to take up this work for gender equity and to help create healthy communities, healthy relationships, and get free from the damage and pain that toxic masculinity creates for all of us.

From Our Ancestors, For Our Future: Lessons from Legendary Organizers Ella Baker and Anne Braden on Building Justice Movements Today
How can we build the movements we need? Let us draw lessons from two of the most effective organizers of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker and Anne Braden, to help us answer that question. Ella Baker and Anne Braden’s relationship-based approach to organizing helped build strong communities, effective groups, and democratic leadership to seek justice. What does Ella Baker’s emphasis on direct action and group-centered leadership teach us about strategy? What does Anne Braden’s anti-racist organizing in white communities teach us for today? Let’s learn from their legacies, and build the movements we need.

A Note from Chris Crass about his Interactive Workshops

"My workshops include a combination of exercises that I lead people through, small and large group facilitated discussions, and some presentation.  I share personal stories as well as lessons and insights from past and present social justice/anti-racist work.  The discussions are both facilitated and highly participatory, so that the questions and issues most important to the group, can help guide the workshop. 

To begin I lead people through an exercise on "creating a culture of inspiration" to root our work in.  Asking people to think of someone who has deeply inspired them to do the work they're doing, talking about their person in small groups and then sharing out to the large group.  We talk about the culture of despair that structural inequality fosters and how that impacts us personally and the work we do.  We talk about the culture of inspiration as both a way to help us be more effective and healthy. We talk about what brought people into this work, so that their values and commitments can help ground the conversation about why we work against racism.

I would talk with you all first to get a better sense of where the group is at. We would either do work together on understanding racism historically and today, and then move into anti-racist principles and practices and what they mean for the work people are doing.  Depending on the needs of the group, I can do more or less of different discussion. We would do story sharing from people's lives about racism and anti-racism.  How racism was or wasn't talked about in your family.  A time when you've either worked against racism or witnessed others and what you learned from it. 

I would present and lead an interactive discussion on white people in anti-racist/racial justice work, both white people doing anti-racist work as well as insights and stories about white people coming into consciousness about racism and committing to anti-racist efforts.

We would close with a discussion about next steps and then an energizing and inspiring exercise that gets people up in front of the group talking about why they want to end racism, why they want racial justice for all, why we need to be courageous in these times, and what we're grateful for.

The primary goal of the workshop is to help equip people to be even more awesome - individually and collectively - for social justice."
 

 

Media
Beloved Community Panel: Chris Crass at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Chris Crass at Oregon State University on the topic of social justice vision and leadership.
The Laura Flanders Show - Chris Crass and Dara Silverman discuss SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice)
From the Revolutionary Love Conference at Middle Church in NYC
Chris Crass at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas TX
Chris Crass at Concordia College, Montreal, Canada, on Feminism for Men
Transform Network Open Conversation - How White People Talk to Other White People About Race