About Anti-Racism Community Organizers
(formerly UROC of Western MA)
ARCO - Anti-Racism Community Organizers (formerly UROC of Western MA) has roots in the anti-racist effort of ilé: Institute for Latino Empowerment when it was still a program of Casa Latina, Inc., in Northampton, MA.
The first Undoing Racism Workshop in the region took place October 13-15, 1995 at Smith College. It was a difficult, but a very successful training.
After that, the first group of anti-racist organizers started working together in what we called the Undoing Racism Organizing Collective, or UROC of Western Mass. We asked the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond - PISAB - to come back for a follow-up session and promoted the development of caucuses. We were more successful forming the white caucus than with the caucus of color. Nevertheless, we continued and in one of our follow-up meetings we conducted a giant power analysis of the area, which included Springfield, Northampton, Amherst, Holyoke and Greenfield. In it we named specific agencies and key people that we needed to reach and bring to the next trainings. Part of the strategy was to rotate the training geographically so that we could develop a regional anti-racist network and strategy. We planned to have two trainings per year.
For the next two years, UROC successfully carried out much of this original plan, organizing and hosting The People’s Institute workshops at Mount Holyoke College, at El Arco Iris in Holyoke, at the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, and later at many venues in Springfield. With each workshop and follow-up meeting new people joined the effort, while others stepped back.
Since that time UROC - now ARCO - has organized numerous trainings with organizations and groups throughout Western Massachusetts. We have have continued to partner with the People's Institute along with other organizations that share a similar anti-racism analysis such as the Equity Consulting Network and the Institute for Latino Empowerment. We have worked with youth, politicians, educators, farmers and health equity organizers to name a few. We have hosted trainings, networking events, information sessions, book talks, film reviews and potlucks, all in the name of strengthening the anti-racism analysis of the communities in which we live and work and building anti-racist systemic change.