Crass was a co-founder of the Catalyst Project, an organization that combines political education and organizing to develop and support anti-racist politics, leadership, and organizing in white communities and builds dynamic multiracial alliances locally and nationally. Through Catalyst Project, where he was the co-coordinator for more then a decade, he collaborated with tens of thousands of activists working on a wide range of issues on their campuses and in their communities. Through workshops on anti-racism, feminism for men, developing collective leadership and lessons from past movements, Crass has supported hundreds of organizations and leaders around the country.
Crass was also a co-founder of the national anti-racism network working to engage white people, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and served on its leadership team. While living in Knoxville, TN, in 2012, he helped initiate Knoxville United Against Racism to bring communities together across race to protest racial profiling, the killing of Trayvon Martin, and for immigrant rights.
As a Unitarian Universalist, Chris has also worked with dozens of faith-based communities around these issues including Divinity Schools and Seminaries and national and regional conferences.
Crass graduated from San Francisco State University in Race, Class, Gender and Power Studies and was mentored by Sharon Martinas, Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez, Paul Kivel and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Originally from California, he currently lives in Louisville KY with his partner and their two sons
Expecto Patronum: Lessons from Harry Potter for Social Change
What can people learn from the Harry Potter series? Author and educator Chris Crass has worked for over two decades in transformative social organizing—leading anti-racist work in white communities and feminist work with men. Join Chris in an exploration of Hermione Granger’s feminist leadership, the Voldemort principle of systemic oppression, and how to break free from it by organizing like the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army. Using pop culture to explore social justice activism, this talk encourages everyone to let their light shine and conjure their Patronus charm for justice. This talk is based on the internationally published essay by Chris Crass.
Chris Crass is a longtime organizer, writer, and educator focusing on anti-racist organizing and racial justice. He is one of the leading voices in white communities for racial justice and Black Lives Matter.
From Harvard and Vanderbilt to the University of Arkansas and UC Santa Cruz, Crass regularly keynotes at colleges and universities across the country. He's led interactive workshops for groups of student leaders at liberal arts colleges and conducted seminars with hundreds at high school assemblies. Crass is also invited to speak at major conferences including, most recently, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education - NCORE 2016 and the White Privilege Conference.
His use of humor, storytelling, and historical examples connect with audiences and inspire them to see how the values of racial equity and justice can be lived and worked for. 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 often learn "what not to do," but that Chris offers guidance and encouragement on "what they can do."
Rooted in both inspiring history and courageous contemporary examples, Chris helps students 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.
Chris' latest book is 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. In addition to his own soul-searching essays and practical organizing advice, Chris lifts up the voices of longtime leaders organizing in white communities around the movement for Black Lives. His previous book, Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy, is a collection of essays and interviews offering 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 movements. His essays have been translated into half a dozen languages, taught in hundreds of classrooms, and included in over a dozen anthologies including Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World, On the Road to Healing: An Anthology for Men Ending Sexism, and We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America.