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Principles and Practice of Anti-Oppression PDF Print E-mail
Principles of Anti-Oppression
  • Power and privilege play out in our group dynamics and we must continually struggle with how we challenge power and privilege in our practice.

  • We can only identify how power and privilege play out when we are conscious and committed to understanding how racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other forms of oppression affect each one of us.

  • Until we are clearly committed to anti-oppression practice all forms of oppression will continue to divide our movements and weaken our power.

  • Developing a anti-oppression practice is life long work and requires a life long commitment. No single workshop is sufficient for learning to change one?s behaviors. We are all vulnerable to being oppressive and we need to continuously struggle with these issues.

  • Dialogue and discussion are necessary and we need to learn how to listen non defensively and communicate respectfully if we are going to have effective anti-oppression practice. Challenge yourself to be honest and open and take risks to address oppression head on.


  • Personal Anti-Oppression Practice

  • When witnessing or experiencing racism, sexism, etc interrupt the behavior and address it on the spot or later; either one on one, or with a few allies.

  • Recognize the when someone offers criticism around oppressive behavior, to treat it as a gift that it is rather than challenging the person or invalidating their experience. Give people the benefit of the doubt and don?t make assumptions. Think about ways to address behavior that will encourage change and try to encourage dialogue, not debate.

  • Keep space open for anti-oppression discussions; try focusing on one form of oppression at a time - sexism, racism, classism, etc.

  • Respect different styles of leadership and communication.

  • White people need to take responsibility for holding other white people accountable.

  • Try not to call people out because they are not speaking.

  • Be conscious of how much space you take up or how much you speak.

  • Be conscious of how your language may perpetuate oppression.

  • Don't push people to do things just because of their race and gender, base it on their word and experience and skills.

  • Promote anti-oppression in everything you do, in and outside of activist space.

  • Avoid generalizing feelings, thoughts, behaviors etc. to a whole group

  • Set anti-oppression goals and continually evaluate whether or not you are meeting them.

  • Don't feel guilty, feel motivated. Realizing that you are part of the problem doesn't mean you can't be an active part of the solution!


  • Organizational Anti-Oppression Practices

  • Commit time for organizational discussions on discrimination and oppression

  • Set anti-oppression goals and continually evaluate whether or not you are meeting them

  • Promote an anti-racist, anti-heterosexist, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist message and analysis in everything we do, in and outside of activist space

  • Remember these are complex issues and they need adequate time and space

  • Create opportunities for people to develop skills to communicate about oppression.

  • Promote egalitarian group development by prioritizing skill shares and being aware of who tends to do what work, who gets recognized/supported/solicited.

  • Respect different styles of leadership and communication

  • Don?t push historically marginalized people to do things because of their oppressed group (tokenism); base it on their work, experience, and skills

  • Make a collective commitment to hold people accountable for their behavior so that the organization can be a safe and nurturing place for all.




  • SELF-CHECK MEETING GUIDELINES
    Given the real challenges associated with a diverse meeting, it is most important that we all do our best to conduct ourselves in a respectful manner.

    1) TONE AND BODY LANGUAGE:
    Be aware of how your attitude influences others as well as the effectiveness of the meeting. Make thoughtful comments that maintain a positive and constructive vibe.

    2) STAY ON TOPIC/MAKE CONCISE STATEMENTS:
    Respect the goals of the meeting by making succinct comments that pertain directly to objectives addressed in the agenda. Evaluate your comments as to whether they assist or divert the direction of the meeting.

    3) CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE:
    We all come with relative societal privileges and oppressions based, in part, on our experiences with race, gender, and class. Be aware of how this affects what you say and what you do.

    4) STEP BACK, STEP UP:
    Notice how much you raise your hand and/or speak. Be aware of others who have not spoken and the environment in which they would feel comfortable to do so. If you aren't speaking but have something to add, assert yourself with the understanding that your comment will be heard and respected. Don't simply wait for your turn to talk, LISTEN.

    5) NO OFFENSE/DEFENSE:
    Meetings are not about winners and losers nor personal attacks. Offensive and defensive behavior and accusations detract from the objectives of the meeting. Be sensible about the intentions of others by giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    6) RESPECT THE ROLE OF THE FACILITATOR:
    Help the facilitator make the meeting effective. This does not mean pointing out minor mistakes, but rather allowing the facilitator to exercise organizational control to better the outcome of the meeting. It is not a personal attack when the facilitator fails to put you on the stack in the correct order.

    7) WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER:
    These meetings would not happen if the people in them weren't committed to similar ideas and held similar values. Keep in mind that this is a joint effort that requires a healthy, positive, give and take atmosphere. Our meetings must be productive in order to leave with specific plans and that great feeling of achievement and solidarity!


    Compiled from the ?Anti-Racism Principles and Practices? by the Los Angeles Direct Action Network, Overcoming Masculine Oppression, the FEMMAFESTO and the RNC Clearinghouse
     

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    phone: 202-234-3440
    email: info@soaw.org