Workshops

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Benji Hart facilitates a range of popular education workshops based in social justice, the arts, and the necessary intersections of the two. Their areas of political expertise include police and prison abolition, trans and queer history, ethnic studies, and economic justice. As a teaching artist, their focus is on movement, creative writing, and spoken word. They have experience building curricula for students of all ages around leadership development, literacy, community organizing, and performance.

A list of workshops Benji leads regularly are listed below. Contact them directly to inquire about other forms of political education they may be able to provide:


Political Education

Trans + Queer Resistance to Policing (Developed with Mayadet Cruz + Sadie Baker)

This workshop introduces the idea of police and prison abolition through an examination of the long legacy of queer and trans resistance to policingand can also serve as a trans 101 for groups still becoming versed in topics of gender identity. After first breaking down who, how, and why the policing system targets specific communities, participants examine a timeline of queer and trans history, adding to it their own experiences and knowledge. The workshop culminates with brainstorming concrete action steps for creating a world without police and prisons, relying on trans and queer history as a guide for that imagining.

This workshop can be taught in English and Spanish

90 minutes

 

Gender, Sex + Sexuality 101 (Developed with Mayadet Cruz)

This workshop, ideally paired with Queer & Trans Resistance to Policing above, provides a foundation for understanding the matrix of terms surrounding gender, sex, and sexuality. Through defining and generating examples of different gender, sex, and sexual identities, participants will understand the social constructions inherent to each of these categories, and the spectrum on which all our characteristicsincluding physical onestruly fall once they have been liberated from the constraints of the medical industry, heteronormativity, and colonialism.

When paired with Queer & Trans Resistance to Policing above, these sessions work together, illustrating how queer and trans identities can teach us concrete strategies for challenging and reimagining oppressive structures all around us.

This workshop can be taught in English and Spanish

30-45 minutes

 

Intro to Prison Abolition

This workshop introduces the concept of police and prison abolition as, in the words of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “not an absence, but a presence.” Through guided activities, participants will understand policingin all its varied formsas an inherent form of violence, one that actually makes our communities less safe. Participants will think through the kinds of resourcesmental health care, schools, housing, etc.that can replace policing, creating broader safety in our communities, and a more just world.

30-45 minutes 

This workshop can be taught in English and Spanish

 

Linking Anti-Blackness + Anti-Immigration

This workshop challenges both anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiments, uniting Black and Brown communities in the fight for immigrant justice and abolition. Activities link the global backlash against immigrants to slavery and colonizationdemonstrating how the deportation machines in places like Israel, Mexico, and the U.S. share a lineage with the same systems that once captured and forced Africans into servitude. Participants will understand how histories of Black repression are at the heart of all anti-immigrant policy, and the need for our communities to fight for Black liberation and immigrant justice as linked battles.

60-90 minutes

This workshop can be taught in English and Spanish

 

Intro to the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Dylan Rodriguez has said, “The classroom shares a genealogy with the technology of the prison.” This workshop introduces the concept of the school-to-prison pipeline not as an anomaly, but a logical evolution of the two state-sponsored institutions. Through a series of activities that demonstrate how schools and prisons have often been aligned throughout US history, this workshop calls on participants to envision new structures for liberatory learning beyond traditional models of schooling.

60 minutes

 

Intro to Neoliberalism

This more advanced workshop introduces the basic values and key characteristics of the economic theory of neoliberalism. By examining it’s origins, and applying its tenets to three major current eventsthe militarized Mexico/U.S. border, the multiple Muslim Bans, and the 2018 construction of a $95 million police academy Chicagoparticipants learn to recognize neoliberalism as a ubiquitous and uniting source of exploitation, and begin to brainstorm ways it can be resisted.

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot

What Is Neoliberalism?: A Brief Definition for Activists by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnold García

Debating the Uses and Abuses of “Neoliberalism”: Forum by Dissent Magazine

90-120 minutes


Professional Development

Pod Mapping + Transformative Justice

Working off a template created by the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, this workshop supports individuals, collectives, and communities in mapping out the networks of support they might be able to rely on in moments of harm, in place of the police and prison system. By brainstorming step by step what resources already exist that can mediate harm and create accountability, participants will come away with their own “pod maps” that can be followed in future moments of crisis.

When paired with Police and Prison Abolition 101 above, this activity introduces participants to the larger concept of transformative justice, demonstrating our communities have the power to address the root causes of harm within them, interrupting instead of continuing cycles of abuse.

Pod Mapping Worksheet by the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective

TransformHarm.org

60 minutes

 

Bringing Your Philosophy into the Classroom

This workshop is geared towards educatorsespecially teaching artists. By examining the guiding principles which structure Benji Hart’s workshops, educators can identify for themselves what the key tenets of their own teaching practices are, if and how they are naming them within their learning spaces, and how to actively involve students in shaping the values that support their own learning communities. Participants will come away with their own teaching philosophy outlined in accessible terms, ready to be shared with their students, and to actively support liberatory learning in their own classrooms.

45-60 minutes


The Arts

Poetry Writing (Developed with Rachel Jackson)

In this workshop, participants with any relationship to poetry strengthen their creative writing skills while imagining a new world. The session centers around a specific poem model, using a range of writing activities to first explore the model itself, then guide participants in drafting their own poems inspired by it. Each participant will leave the session with a new piece of writing ready to be shared.

45-60 minutes 


Photo: Eddie Jerks, 2017