Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

MNCASA 2021 Annual Symposium | Moment of Truth: What can we do to support racial justice in the movement?

November 9 @ 9:00 am - 1:15 pm


Registration for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 2021 Virtual Symposium, Moment of Truth: What can we do to support racial justice in the movement?, is now open! MNCASA’s Symposium provides resources, skills, and education on emerging issues and recommended practices in anti-sexual violence work and the chance to develop connections with others in the movement.
This year’s theme was chosen because the movement to end sexual violence has reached a moment of hard truth. Racism and white supremacy are built into the systems we interact with as advocates and allies, and those systems harm and oppress BIPOC victims/survivors. We can’t end violence if we don’t stand against the violence of systemic racism and oppression. The question we must ask ourselves is: how can this movement center and work toward racial justice?
Join us on on Tuesday, November 9, 9:00 a.m.–1:15 p.m. for Moment of Truth: What can we do to support racial justice in the movement?, a one day, virtual event featuring keynote speaker Resmaa Manakem.
ASL interpreting and live auto-captioning will be available.


Registration is free for MNCASA members and $35.00 for non-members. If you are a MNCASA member, please register with the email address you use for Coalition Manager to access the member rate. If you are a MNCASA member and are unable to access the member rate, please email us at membership@mncasa.org. You will need to create a free Zoom account with the address if you don’t already have one. If you need assistance registering, please contact us at membership@mncasa.org.

Speakers and Topics

Keynote: 9:15-10:00 a.m.


A Conversation with Resmaa Manakem

Resmaa Manakem
Therapist, trauma specialist, and the founder of Justice Leadership Solutions

Please join us for a virtual conversation on racial healing, equity, and justice with Resmaa Menakem. He is a healer, therapist, trainer, and speaker, and the author of the New York Times bestseller My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Healing Our Hearts and Bodies. 


Resmaa has served as director of counseling services for the Tubman Family Alliance, behavioral health director for African American Family Services in Minneapolis, a domestic violence counselor for Wilder Foundation, and a certified Military and Family Life Consultant for the U.S. Armed Forces. Resmaa will discuss the current call for reckoning in our moment how we can heal as we position ourselves for transformative work. Learn more about him at resmaa.com.




Workshop Block 1: 10:15-11:15 a.m.


Transformational Practices

Dr. Raj Sethuraju
Recovering criminologist associate professor, Metropolitan State University

We will work together and harvest our collective wisdom in our march towards transformation, liberation, and justice. Together, we will be vulnerable and valuable as we create a safe and brave space to imagine and do deep medicine work. Thank you for being a part of this journey.


dr. raj he/him/they recovering criminologist associate professor, Metropolitan State University raj is a recovering criminologist, alcoholic, and survivor of sexual abuse, with over 20 years of community-based activism as a researcher and educator. Inspired by our youth’s resilience and the men in our prison systems, he trains school staff, probation agents, community members, and justice personnel on restorative practices, trauma and healing, value-centered leadership, community building, and unpacking implicit biases. He believes in raising consciousness utilizing the restorative circle process. In his latest work, raj explores our justice system’s depths and creates a framework in which knowledge, critical consciousness, and heart become the root of our practices.



Advocate to Advocate: An Honest Conversation about Realities of the Movement

Ikram Osman

Kia Whittier


How do we support racial justice in the movement? What does support look like in a field that is oppressive and doesn’t acknowledge it’s institutional power over others? What is the truth and are we ready for it? How do we move forward? Ikram Osman and Kia Whittier invite you to join them as they have a candid conversation about their experiences as two Black advocates working in the nonprofit domestic and sexual violence sector. They will be asking each other questions and speaking their truth about the realities of the movement, while leaving an opportunity of hope. They welcome the audience to join in on the conversation as well.


Ikram Osman and Kia Whittier have over 5 years of experience working in the domestic and sexual violence field. Their experiences range from writing protective orders to facilitating support groups for incarcerated youth, training DV/SV volunteers, to organizing statewide meetings on domestic violence to co-creating a survivors of color support group at a major institution. Ikram and Kia’s experiences as Black women in this field is central to how they conduct their work and show up in the movement. As friends and advocates, they truly enjoy the time they have spent building strong partnerships with community members in justice and equity spaces. You can find Ikram browsing the internet for flight deals for future adventures and Kia spending time outside with her dog and partner.



Workshop Block 2: 12:00-1:00 p.m.


Underserved Access to Rape Victim Services

Melinda Chen
PhD Candidate, Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas

Despite significant efforts to reach survivors, rape victims continue to be chronically underserved by rape crisis centers, with an estimated 10% of all victims seeking formal advocacy support after assault. These numbers are even lower for survivors who identify as a person of color, LGBTQ+, immigrant, disabled, and otherwise marginalized people. Outreach programming has begun to address this gap, but there has been little attention to crisis response services and how they affect attrition rates for rape victims as they seek services. In this seminar, we first examine the organizational structures on the crisis response side of rape crisis centers that produce barriers to access, and disproportionate access to marginalized victims, then turn to our own local agencies to identify and begin dismantling these barriers for marginalized victims and retaining survivors throughout their healing process.  


Melinda Chen is a 4th year PhD Candidate in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. She holds an M.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from KU, a graduate certificate in East Asian Languages & Cultures, also from KU, and a B.A. in Global Liberal Studies concentrating in Law, Ethics & Religion from New York University. Her research examines anti-rape advocacy under the neoliberal U.S. political landscape and seeks to understand how marginalization manifests and functions at rape crisis centers. Her dissertation draws extensively from queer of color critique and transnational feminisms to argue that anti-rape work’s allegiance to neoliberal logics has produced institutional barriers to access for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and otherwise marginalized rape victims as well as the victim advocates supporting rape survivors. In her free time, Melinda volunteers as a rape victim advocate at the Crisis Center, located in Birmingham, Alabama, and enjoys whipping up delicious food in the kitchen. 



Weaving Our Wisdom by Decolonizing Our Work

Nicole Matthews
Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition

Linda Thompson
Operations Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition


We will look at some of the current habits that impact our daily lives through our organizations, community structures, and the ways that we move through the world. This session will explore how we have taken on harmful attitudes and behaviors that do not reflect our values as good relatives to each other. We will create space to reflect on how we can decolonize our own individual practices to make change for our communities by weaving together the wisdom in the room in order to end gender-based violence.


Nicole Matthews is a descendent of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and is the Executive Director for Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition; a statewide Tribal Coalition and National Tribal Technical Assistance Provider, addressing sexual violence and sex trafficking against Indigenous people The mission of this organization is to strengthen the voices of Indigenous women to create awareness, influence social change, and reclaim the traditional values that honor the sovereignty of Indigenous women and children thereby eliminating the sexual violence perpetrated against them. Their vision is: Creating Safety and Justice for Native Women Through the Teachings of Our Grandmothers. Nicole was one of five researchers who interviewed 105 Native women used in prostitution and trafficking for their report: Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota. Nicole is the Vice Chair of Minnesota’s Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women’s Task Force; she serves on the Executive Council of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota; she is a board member for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center; she served on the State of Minnesota Attorney General’s Work Group on Sexual Assault; and she is a National and International Speaker on sexual violence and sex trafficking. Nicole is also the proud mother of three beautiful children and the grandmother to one. They give her the strength and motivation to continue working to end gender-based violence. 


Linda is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota, she also is a lineal descendent to both Leech Lake & Mille Lacs Lake Tribes. She is committed to social justice, social change work and ending all forms of violence, with a specialized focus on ending gender-based violence. With proven leadership in developing and leading a Tribal domestic violence-sexual assault program and co creating a Tribal Coalition Linda has gained great understanding of the challenges and realities of service providers that are leading and working in a Tribal advocacy program. She has worked side by side with her sisters in this work and has gained experience with policy and legislative efforts on Tribal, state and national levels, as well as extensive experience serving rural, reservation and urban areas. Working within these different positions has also given her experience administering federal, state, and local grants. Linda has specialized knowledge and both programmatic and personal experience with LGBTQ, Indigenous, trauma-informed and survivor work, including labor and sex trafficking and MMIR, as well as serving on the ND AG Fatality Review Team.