Cultural Strategies on Race, Space, and Place

GIA Conference blogger, Tram Nguyen reports from the conference, happening now in Oakland, California:

The preconference session on “Culture at the Intersection of Race, Space and Place” has my worlds colliding this Sunday morning in downtown Oakland.

In the spirit of storytelling—as panelists Roberto Bedoya and Favianna Rodriguez modeled—I am both a longtime Oakland resident, a current local government employee (in the county public health department), and a prior chronicler of race, space and place as a journalist at

As an Oakland renter and mom raising my family in this place of struggle and possibility, I am deeply compelled by the idea how the arts can help to create a “civic narrative of belonging,” in the words of Oakland cultural affairs manager Roberto Bedoya—because every day I am thinking about my triracial son and his classmates’ belonginess in the Oakland we know, and that is becoming harder by the day to stay in.

As a public health policy professional, I am intrigued that our local government “siblings” in the arts and cultural sector are thinking and strategizing in some very similar veins as we do in public health. Basically, arts and cultural equity can operate like a set of values and strategies that act as a through-line for equity and social justice across city and county planning and policies in every arena—much as we strive to do in health equity.

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