Expand Your Knowledge of White Privilege and Racism

Ignorance may be bliss, but it certainly doesn’t help make the world a better place or further the goals of MOSES. Some great resources are listed below. If you know of additional resources, please list them in the comments section.


PBS: Race: The Power of an Illusion.  This is an excellent 3 part documentary from 2003 which can be purchased from California Newsreel, and is in some county libraries.  Of great value is the online companion to the series, “Background Readings” which  provides access to about 15 articles each  on Society, History, and Science, all related to the topic and which can be read online.

See especially:

  1. Interview with Beverly Daniel Tatum under the Society section
  2. “Racial Preferences for Whites: The Houses that Racism Built,” a short Op/Ed piece by Larry Adelman.

The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross 2013.  Multi-part documentary by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Just completed showing on PBS.  Check libraries and future PBS schedule.

Slavery by Another Name 2012.  Traces the 80 years of involuntary labor in the North and the South that followed the end of slavery through the ever-inventive creation of new “crimes” like vagrancy and long prison sentences which led to decades of forced labor. Available for $19.95 from PBS documentaries

Frontline:  Two Nations of Black America. 1998 documentary by Henry Gates Jr, tracing the rise of some blacks and the social fall of others. $19.99 from PBS.

The House I Live In. Video version of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, with some new twists. Was aired on PBS.

 Beyond Hate (1991):  Bill Moyers.  (87 minutes)  Excellent examination of why and who we hate, and discussion of what hate does to us and for us.  Should be available in most libraries or can be purchased on amazon.

Harvest of Empire:  2012.  Based on the book by Juan González.   Examines the political events, social conditions, and U.S. government actions that led millions of Latino families to leave their homelands in an unprecedented wave of migration over the past six decades.  Available at local libraries, on amazon and itunes.

Unnatural Causes (2008):  acclaimed documentary series broadcast by PBS and now used to tackle the root causes of our alarming socio-economic and racial inequities in health.  The four-hour series crisscrosses the nation uncovering startling new findings that suggest there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social circumstances in which we are born, live, and work can actually get under our skin and disrupt our physiology as much as germs and viruses.  Total of 4 hours, consisting of 7 segments:

In Sickness and In Wealth (56 min.) How does the distribution of power, wealth and resources shape opportunities for health

When the Bough Breaks (29 min.) Can racism become embedded in the body and affect birth outcomes?

Becoming American (29 min.) Latino immigrants arrive healthy, so why don’t they stay that way?

Bad Sugar (29 min.)  What are the connections between diabetes, oppression, and empowerment in two Native American communities?

Place Matters (29 min.) Why is your street address such a strong predictor of your health? (This episode is available as a stand-alone DVD with English, Lao, Hmong, Vietnamese, Mandarin and Cantonese audio, as well as English and Mandarin subtitles.)

Not Just a Paycheck (30 min.) Why do layoffs take such a huge toll in Michigan but cause hardly a ripple in Sweden?                                                                          A Forgotten Injustice:  a documentary about deportation of two million Mexican -Americans during the great depression of 1930’s.  Available on Youtube


Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity by Tim Wise.  Available in paper or in a lecture form. Wise, a well-respected white author writing on racism,  argues against color blindness and for a deeper color consciousness in both public and private practice.  See also White Like Me:  Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son  and Dear  White America:  Letter to New Minority  addressing the sources of white anxiety, the rise of the Tea Party, and racialized nostalgia.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, 2010, now available in paperback.  This highly praised but demanding book is the “bible” of the prison transformation movement. It includes essential history of the last century and especially the last 30 years, explaining the origins of the drug war and its horrendous impact on black communities and our thinking. At least read the 19 page intro.

Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, Change Work 2001. See article on ”White Supremacy Culture” at www.cwsworkshop.org/pdfs/CARC/Overview/3_White_Sup_Culture.PDF which discusses “white” characteristcs  embedded in our organizations that may make some people of color uncomfortable, like perfectionism, worship of the written word,  fear of open conflict, either/or thinking.

Lies my Teacher Told Me:  James Loewen.  “Everything your American History Teacher Got Wrong!”

Illegal:  Peter Geniesse   Documents the struggles of people from Mexico trying to enter the U.S.

More than Just Race:  Being Black and Poor in the Inner Cities.  Available on amazon.


To test your unconscious bias, go to http://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ which offers on-line tests offered by Harvard University to test unconsciousness bias. We all have some type of racism in us; let’s recognize it and deal with it.

whatsrace.org Take the racial literacy quiz. See Toolbox with low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk “engagement games” to use with groups.

Race Matters and More Race Matters Toolkits:  Annie E. Casey Foundation
This toolkit is designed to help decision-makers, advocates, and elected officials get better results in their work by providing equitable opportunities for all. The toolkit presents a specific point of view on addressing unequal opportunities by race and offers simple, results-oriented steps to help you achieve your goals.  Also see the companion series, MORE Race Matters. These publications serve to complement the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Race Matters Toolkit by providing users with additional guidelines, tips and additional tools.

 Project NIA   Launched in 2009 in Chicago, Project NIA is an advocacy, organizing, popular education, research, and capacity-building center with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. Project is based on the belief that several simultaneous approaches are necessary in order to develop and sustain community-based alternatives to the system of policing and incarceration.  A 350 page downloadable curriculum is available on the site.  Can be used with kids or adults and includes sessions on racism and privilege.

 We Need to Talk About an Injustice.  A moving and powerful  23 minute TED talk by Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, about why black incarceration in the U.S. should be the key burning issue in our entire country  (and why it is the core of our 11×15 Campaign).  

In Defense of a Loaded Word”, article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in Sunday Review Section of New York Times, 11/25/13.  Very nuanced analysis of the different perspectives on use of the forbidden word, and an argument why black people should be able to use it.

How Racist Are We? Ask Google. Interesting article tracing what percentage of votes Obama lost in 2008 due purely to racial antagonism.

Finance Committee Members

Here are the members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, helpfully provided at Madison Action Day by Senator Fred Risser, together with a map showing what Senate and Assembly Districts they are from. While it’s always best for them to hear from their constituents, given their powerful role with regard to the current budget review, they will pay attention to messages from any Wisconsinite. Let them know that we need more money for TAD, money for a restoration/crisis center in Dane County for people with mental illness as an alternative to jail, etc. Their email addresses and phone numbers are on this sheet.

Finance Committee Members



Diversions Work Group Findings

Click here to read the full document that discusses the MOSES Diversion Work Group Suggestions.



Preschool to Prison Pipeline Resources



Classroom from the public domain

Several people attended the MOSES Community Conversation on the Preschool to Prison Pipeline: a local perspective. Not everyone was able to attend. Here are some materials that were gathered in the preparation of this event that might be helpful in better understanding some of the issues.

Education of Incarcerated Students 2015


Skiba The Color of Discipline

Pedagogical Tact



An Indian Father’s Plea – Education Week Teacher

Bay Area Color-of-Discipline Understanding Racial Disparity in School Discipline Practices

The Resilience Code_ Finding Greatness in Youth

as well as this article The Washington Post-A principal met a student she expelled, and it changed her approach to discipline.

MOSES Responds to Dane County Board Resolution 556

MOSES Jail Task Force has written a position statement, approved by the MOSES general body, with suggestions to improve County Board Resolution 556.  
We have been informed that, in deference to mourning in the community for Tony Robinson, one of the co-sponsors of Resolution 556 requested that consideration of of Resolution 556 be removed from the agendas of the PP&J and HHN committee meetings scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 10. The item has been removed and will be scheduled for a future meeting. The MOSES Jail Task Force will inform us of when Resolution 556 will be considered by these committees.

MOSES Abbreviated Position Points for Resolution 556
on Dane County Jail and Criminal Justice System

The MOSES Jail Task Force has the following three primary goals:

  1. Stop all unnecessary incarceration
    1. End racial disparities
    2. Treatment instead of jail for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or addictions
  2. Improve jail conditions for those inside
  3. Ensure that any facility changes promote goals 1 and 2

MOSES’s full position statement of March 7, 2015, elaborates on these goals in an effort to strengthen Resolution 556, currently before the County Board. Below is a condensed version of the position points found in the full position statement.

1. Create Crisis Intervention and Restoration Centers:Create community­based jail alternatives including one or more crisis intervention or restoration centers, and locate the centers to provide equitable access, especially to people of color. Commit to increasing County funding for mental health services, and also use BadgerCare and other health insurance to expand such services.

2. Expand Alternatives and Diversions: Expand current diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration, including electronic monitoring (home detention), drug courts, and restorative courts, while also increasing racially equitable access and participation. Charge the Length of Stay Work Group with determining how to expand existing and other alternatives and diversions.

3. Achieve Racial Equity: Set measurable and concrete goals for increasing racial equity in access to and participation in all services and programs discussed in Resolution 556, and include achievement of racial equity in the missions of all three work groups. Include specific racial equity goals in all sections of Resolution 556.

4. Address Life and Safety Concerns:Obtain from the Sheriff specific information about the immediate facilities needs that are related to life and safety, as well as racially disaggregated data about the people most at risk due to these issues. Wait on making broader jail space planning decisions until the number of people in the County jail has decreased from other policy changes.

5. Strengthen the Work Groups: Commit the County Board to act on the work groups’ recommendations. Solicit participation in the work groups from national experts who have proven experience in community transformation, reducing incarceration, and/or decreasing racial disparities. Charge the work groups to identify how specific policy changes can be implemented.

6. Implement Better Data Systems: Immediately build a Dane County Criminal Justice Dashboard that pulls data from existing systems. Make this information, disaggregated by relevant factors, available to the general public, as well as to all parts of the criminal justice system and other social service agencies.

7. Connect People to BadgerCare and FoodShare: Make it a County priority to facilitate helping people, including those incarcerated in the County jail, to apply for BadgerCare, Affordable Care Act health insurance, FoodShare, and/or FoodShare Employment and Training.

8. Refocus Planning to Reduce Jail Space Needs: Require Mead and Hunt (M&H) to consider three or more reform scenarios that lead to different reductions in the jail population. Make clear that M&H does not have sway over the three work groups. Make any contract with M&H available for public review before being adopted.

If you have questions, please contact the MOSES Jail Task Force at mosesjailtaskforce@googlegroups.com.

Visit http://groups.google.com/group/MOSESjailtaskforce to subscribe to the MOSES Jail Task Force email list.

Solitary Confinement Cell Replica & #ReformNow Video

The replica of a solitary confinement cell will be installed at First Congregational Church in Madison, WI from January 4 – January 10, 2015.

The cell will be available for viewing during the following times:

  • solitary-confinement-flyerSunday, Jan 4: 10am worship service
  • Tuesday, Jan 6: 1-4 pm
  • Thursday, Jan 8: 1-4 pm and 6-8 pm
  • Saturday, Jan 10: 9-noon (Tour before or after the monthly MOSES meeting!)


Also, view the Reform Now video on Solitary Confinement including footage from the October 1 rally at the State Capitol:


Updates from the MOSES Jail Task Force


MOSES JAIL TASK FORCE has these 3 primary goals:no new jail 1

  1. Stop all unnecessary incarceration
    1. End racial disparities
    2. Treatment instead of jail for people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or addictions
  2. Improve jail conditions for those inside
  3. Ensure that any facility changes promote goals 1 and 2

MOSES’ goals are ambitious and involve multiple complicated systems.  But other municipalities have already succeeded with similar goals, using evidence-based strategies.  JOIN US!

Meets 3rd Thursdays, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Optional orientation for newcomers 6:00
(Sub-committee work teams have additional meetings)
St. Mark’s Church (in basement)
605 Spruce St., Madison (Off So Park St.)
Contact:  Ann Pooler, apooler@charter.net, 608-658-6847

 Background: In July, a consultant firm (hired by the County Board) recommended that Dane County build a new jail estimated to cost $135 – $141 million.  A MOSES team immediately formed to decide MOSES’ position. We studied the consultants’ 600-page report and began to attend and testify at county committee meetings.

MOSES determined that the proposal assumed a continuation of already outdated incarceration practices. We discerned that many people are in jail unnecessarily—meaning that they are not a risk to the public and are in jail only because they are waiting for a court or DOC hearing, or cannot pay fines or bail (often $500 or less).  We also found racial disparities in jail alternative programs (e.g., only 16% of those released from jail on home monitoring are people of color, compared to 51% of those in jail).

MOSES rejected the new jail proposal in a position statement we released on August 25th.  We presented this at a NAMI public forum, at numerous County criminal justice meetings, and to stakeholders and media. MOSES celebrated an advocacy win October 1st when the County Executive removed the jail proposal from the budget; but our work has just begun.

Please click here to access MOSES position statement including facts and figures about the jail population.  Feel free to share this document widely.

WISDOM Launches 11×15 Blueprint Details #11x15blueprint

On Wednesday, December 10, it was standing room only in the State Capitol as WISDOM announced its blueprint for achieving the goal of cutting Wisconsin’s prison population in half (to 11,000) by 2015. YOU are a critical part of bringing this plan to reality. If you missed the event, you can watch a recording by Wisconsin Eye.

Click here to check out a presentation you can share with your friends, family, and colleagues about the 11×15 Blueprint. (Click here to download the Power Point presentation.)

You can also click here to read the detailed executive summary for more details about the approach WISDOM and its affiliates are taking to end mass incarceration in Wisconsin.

BluePrint ppt 12 10 14

Experience Solitary Confinement in Madison

A replica of a solitary confinement cell will be installed for one week at the Madison Christian Community, 7118 Old Sauk Road, beginning this weekend.
As part of the installation, there will be a forum held on Tuesday evening, November 18th. Reverend Jerry Hancock will be leading the forum, which will include speakers and a talking circle.
The cell will be available for a few hours during the week for viewing and/or for spending some time sitting inside of it, in meditation or prayer or simply deep reflection about the reality of what we are doing inside of our prisons to our brothers and sisters. If you’re interested in this opportunity, please see the contact information on the flyer below.

solitary confinement flyer

A Call for Accountability in DOC #ReformNow

To learn more about issues MOSES and WISDOM are fighting for, read the following briefs by WISDOM:

Brief 1: A Broken Parole System

Brief 2: Failures in Revocation and GPS Monitoring

Brief 3: Solitary Confinement is Torture