Announcing our IDA Annual Spring Class, Unlearning Racism, Redefining Identity with very special Guest Instructors

We are truly exciting to offer our IDA annual spring class looking at the arts and social justice. Entitled AAAS /CSRE 170A: Unlearning Racism, Redefining Identity – Culture Workers and the Frontlines of Change, this class will examine how the fabric of racism is inextricably woven and constructed into the founding principles of the United States. As such, the concept of liberation and equity cannot be realized unless we have the courage to address how race and racism sustain our collective oppression. The first unit of the course will be rooted in the principles of Undoing Racism inspired by The People’s Institute For Survival and Beyond (PISAB). Artist and PISAB facilitator Maria Bowman will be leading two sessions informed by the work of PISAB using her own approach, knowledge and experience of the arts at the intersection of social change practice. Our first three weeks will set the foundation for our weekly guest artists and scholars whose work will help us to imagine and effectively work towards building a more equitable culture, society and identity. The course will consist of in class coursework, out of class readings, embodied experiences, and deep, critical reflection. Participants will be asked to commit to presence and dig deep into new understandings of identity as we begin to unpack internalized racism and develop new practices for reimagining ourselves outside of oppressive systems. 

To register, click here . If you are NOT a current student, click here to register.


A-lan Holt is a dramatic writer from Los Angeles, CA. She currently serves as director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University (IDA) where she supports undergraduates in art practice, arts leadership, and social justice. She is a practicing artist whose work includes theater and film. Her debut film Inamorata was acquired by Issa Rae Productions in 2018 and won a special jury prize for best first-time filmmaker at San Francisco’s Black Film Festival in 2017. Holt participated in the 2018 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive, the 2018 SFFilm Screenwriting Fellowship, and is a frequent contributor on-air at KQED Arts.

In 2016 Holt’s artist book Moonwork was published by Candor Arts Chicago and was shortlisted for the Cornish Family Prize at the Melbourne Art Book Fair. Since its release, Moonwork now resides in several private and public institutions including the New York Public Library, Yale University School of Art, the National Gallery of Victoria Australia, the PNCA Library at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, among others. In 2013 Holt received a two-year residency at the Public Theater in New York City where her play, The Bottom of Heaven was developed starring Lupita Nyong’o and directed by CalShakes artistic director Eric Ting. Holt studied Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with a concentration in Identity, Diversity, and Aesthetics at Stanford University, and received her B.A in 2011.

Amara Tabor-Smith is IDA’s Artist in Residence and the Artistic Director of the Committee on Black Performing Arts. She describes her work as Afro-futurist Conjure Art. Her creative process as a dance maker is rooted in collaboration, spiritual ritual, and questions of identity and belonging. Her movement vocabulary is inspired by improvisation, Butoh and African Diaspora dance traditions, specifically drawing from movements of the Orishas found in Afro Cuban and Afro Brazilian folkloric dance. In 2006—with the goal of inspiring dialogue—she founded Deep Waters Dance Theater, a company that focuses on social- and environmental-justice issues, race, gender, cultural identity and spirituality.

Maria Bauman-Morales is a Bessie-Award-winning, Brooklyn, NY-based, multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer from Jacksonville, FL. Bauman-Morales is also a sought-after facilitator and public speaker on the topics of social justice practices within performing arts, embodied and arts-based leadership development, and racial equity in the arts. She creates bold and honest artworks for her company MBDance, based on physical and emotional power, insistence on equity, and fascination with intimacy. Bauman brings the same tenets to organizing to undo racism in the arts and beyond with ACRE (Artists Co-creating Real Equity), the grassroots organizing body she co-founded six years ago with Sarita Covington and Nathan Trice. MBDance centers people of color, both ideas and bodies, in performance without tragedizing or tokenizing them. Bauman-Morales draws on her long study of capoeira, improvisation, dancing in living rooms and nightclubs, as well as concert dance classes to embody interconnectedness, joy, and tenacity.

Diedra Barber and Maureen Benson met in 2006 as colleagues working in public education in Oakland, California. Over the last 15 years, we have deepened our professional relationship and built a powerful personal relationship.  Our individual and collective learning has been an incredible journey for ourselves, our interpersonal dynamics, and (ultimately) for our clients whom we support in Transmuting White Supremacy and Patriarchy as they take on organizational transformation.We knew early on that there was something special about the ways we were showing up in collaboration as individuals, supporting each other interpersonally, and how we were thinking about interdependence in our professional and personal communities. A few years ago we started a deep inquiry process of looking at the ways we were showing up for ourselves,  with each other (with our multiple identities), and engaging our clients so that we could offer some of our own learnings to others.

This inquiry led us to create this course, Cultivating Intersectional Leadership.  After several years of work and a deep commitment to PRACTICING the work while we built this course, we are excited to offer the opportunity to embark on your own intentional and authentic journey.

Born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (MFA) is a Queer, Fat, Black, Femme performer, facilitator, educator, writer, activist, healer, joyful weirdo, and Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for The Revolution. Vanessa has danced across many professional and creative stages. She has been a Writer and Co-Managing Editor for acclaimed feminist magazines, Everyday Feminism & Black Girl Dangerous; a community college instructor at multiple Bay Area schools and radical transformative justice programs; a fundraiser and events coordinator for the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project; the Artist In Residence for the Young Women Freedom Center where she facilitated Art Healing Workshops and a Master Class for formerly incarcerated women, trans, and non-binary people; and so much more. She is currently a core team member for Creating Freedom Movements (a year long social education project that supports grassroots visionary leaders to incubate healing and joy projects while learning more about the art, theory, and practice of social justice movements) and a Creative and Programming Consultant for the Positive Results Center. Reclaim UGLY: Uplift Glorify Love Yourself And Create A World Where Others Can As Well, the book, will be published by North Atlantic Press and dispersed by Penguin Random House in October 2021.

Writer, vocalist, sacred scholar, and activist Amber McZeal utilizes sound therapy and guided somatic imagery to engage the knowledge of the body within an interactive and liberatory arts practice. Amber McZeal weaves together somatic practice with social justice and spirituality. Her approach centers imagination as foundational to movements to end oppression and create more humane social relationships.

Alan Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous poet, installation and adornment artist from the coastal Zapotec community of Oaxaca, México. Much of the artist’s work is invested in thinking with and through fugitivity, language, grief, ancestral memories, and the role of storytelling in migrant households. Pelaez Lopez is the author of Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award, and to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press, 2020). Their poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and “Best of the Net,” and selected to appear in Best New Poets 2019 and Best American Experimental Writing 2020. Pelaez Lopez has been building with undocumented queer and trans migrants for ten years. Alan’s art has been supported primarily by other independent artists as well as fellowships and/or residencies from Submittable, the Museum of the African Diaspora, VONA/Voices, and University of California-Berkeley. They live in Oakland, CA & the internet as @MigrantScribble.

Lyla June is a poet, singer-songwriter, hip-hop artist, human ecologist, public speaker and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages. Her dynamic, multi-genre performance and speech style has invigorated and inspired audiences across the globe towards personal, collective and ecological healing. Her messages focus on Indigenous rights, supporting youth, inter-cultural healing, historical trauma and traditional land stewardship practices. She blends her undergraduate studies in human ecology at Stanford University, her graduate work in Native American Pedagogy at the University of New Mexico, and the indigenous worldview she grew up with to inform her perspectives and solutions. Her internationally acclaimed performances and speeches are conveyed through the medium of prayer, hip-hop, poetry, acoustic music and speech. Her personal goal is to grow closer to Creator by learning how to love deeper.

(Lisjan Ohlone) Corrina Gould is the tribal spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone. Born and raised in her ancestral homeland, the Ohlone territory of Huchiun, she is the mother of three and grandmother of four. Corrina has worked on preserving and protecting the ancient burial sites of her ancestors throughout the Bay Area for decades. She is a Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust