Anti-Oppression October 26th, 2014 Lukayo Estrella
Workshop Agenda Acknowledgement & Introductions (15 min) Diversity, Oppression & Liberation (20 min) The Taking Tree Story Break Out Group #1 (60 min) Violence, Exclusion, Internalization & Privilege Liberation (5 min) Break Out Group #2 (60 min) Debrief & Thank You (15 min) This Powerpoint can be emailed to you if needed.
Acknowledgement Thanking those who came before: - my Ancestors & Spirits - those who have done this work (Harsha Walia, Andrea Smith, Steve Klabnik, my friend Reem) Thanking those who continue to do this work Thanking the land
Thanking the people of this land, the Algonquin Apologizing that this presentation is only in English
Introductions 1) Name 2) Your Preferred Pronoun (The pronoun others should use when they’re referring to you in conversation, such as “she, he, they, ze, etc”) 3) What Do You Hope To Learn
Introductions A Note On Triggers: You may have different ways you process, learn, communicate, or socially interact with others. You may have survived trauma, abuse, the psychiatric system, bullying, discrimination, and oppression. You may also have “triggers”, i.e. things that are said which remind you of traumatic experiences or current concerns that could initiate a panic attack, emotional shut down, or rage. Since we are talking about oppression, this presentation could be triggering to you for any of the above reasons. It is my sincere hope that you have a support network and a care plan if you are triggered by this presentation. If you need to leave the presentation, please indicate that to the organizers and perhaps other accommodations can be made.
Introductions How I’m Situated In This Conversation Self-Identify: - [email protected]
(Bicolano/Bicolana) - settler of colour - asog / tomboy - physically grandiose - makata / daitan Western Cultural Terms (Sometimes I identify with, sometimes I just accept as the only term available): - Asian / Pacific Islander / Filipino - Canadian Citizen & immigrant with immigrant parents - transgender / transmasculine / transsexual / genderqueer / pansexual - fat, able-bodied - Bachelors in Humanities - philosopher / spirit worker / poet / writer / educator / community organizer - volunteer for PTS (Centre for the Queer Community in Ottawa), No One Is Illegal, Philippine Migrants Society of Canada, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants - worker at Jer’s Vision
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation Our bodies come in many shapes, colours, sizes, genders, sexes, expressions, abilities, and styles Our minds and emotions process and express themselves in a variety of ways Our relationships, families, and ways of loving are expressed, built, and sustained in a variety of ways We are a diverse species Yet… 7
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation Supremacy (where one aspect of a person is superior and people who have the rest are inferior)
+ Violent Action On Many Levels (institutionally/systemically, culturally & individually) = Oppression 8
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation Another way to see it is when the diversity of human beings becomes replaced by a supremacy through the strategies of physical violence, isolation, and internalization, then that creates oppression. 4 Main Levels of Oppression: 1) historical 2) institutional/systemic 3) cultural 4) individual 9
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation Abolishing oppression systemically, culturally, and individually through empowerment, healing justice, education, building alliances, changing policies, and re-incorporating diversity is LIBERATION (aka ANTI-OPPRESSION). This is important ground work and a framework for unions, organizations, and collectives to work from in regards to inclusive organizing, diverse membership, and equitable practices.
The Taking Tree Born from the Seed of Empire Grown with dreams of Greed, Power, Gold & Blood (Imperialism is a system of domination and subordination with an imperial center and periphery. Definition paraphrased from scholar Edward Said. In this example, we are talking about European Imperialism that colonized most of the world in the last 500 years.)
The Taking Tree The Roots of the Tree are alive and hungry, and they feed by taking power.
They operate on an Oppressive Logic: SUPREMACY + VIOLENCE
( Group A > Group B so Group B must be killed/enslaved/fought)
The Taking Tree Some of the roots have names: Racism / White Supremacy (Cis)Heteropatriarchy Ableism
The Taking Tree Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics: Racism / White Supremacy - Anti-Blackness - Settler Colonialism - Orientalism - Border Imperialism (Cis)Heteropatriarchy - Cissexism / transphobia - Sexism / patriarchy - Heterosexism / homophobia / biphobia -Transmisogyny Ableism - Eugenics Model - Medical Model - Charity Model 14
The Taking Tree Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics: Racism / White Supremacy Anti-Blackness (Non-Black People > Black People Black People must be turned into property) Settler Colonialism (Settler> Native Native People must have their land taken) Orientalism (Citizen> Foreigner Foreigners must be fought and conquered) Border Imperialism (Citizen> Migrant/Undocumented Undocumented People/Migrants must be turned into property and/or be fought and conquered)
The Taking Tree Racism / White Supremacy Put in another way, what we commonly know as racism or white supremacy are social norms and policies enforced by violence, isolation, and internalization on systemic, cultural, and individual levels so as to ensure the best or largest quantity of resources goes to those coded as “White”. These resources are the following: - land - labour - war
The Taking Tree Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics: (Cis)Heteropatriarchy Cissexism / Transphobia (Non-Trans/Cis> Trans Trans People must be erased) Sexism / Patriarchy (Men/Masculine> Women/Feminine Women/Feminine People must be made into property) Heterosexism / Homophobia / Biphobia (Straight> Queer Queer People must be erased) Transmisogyny (Non-Transfeminine People > Transfeminine People Transfeminine people must be made into property or erased)
The Taking Tree
(Cis)Heteropatriarchy Put in another way, (cis)heteropatriarchy are Western white social norms enforced by violence, isolation, and internalization on systemic, cultural, and individual levels. These norms encompass: - sex assignment - gender identity - gender expression - sexual orientation - relationship agreements and family structures
The Taking Tree Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics:
Ableism Eugenics Model (Normal>Deviant Deviants must be erased) Medical Model (Normal>Broken Broken people must be fixed) Charity Model (Normal>Incompetent Incompetent people are cared for as property)
The Taking Tree
Can you name other violent action-based supremacies that are the Roots of the Taking Tree?
The Taking Tree
From the Roots of the Taking Tree grow the Trunk. The Trunk is made of Institutions.
The Taking Tree What are Institutions? They are social structures/mechanisms that govern behaviour and exist beyond individuals who may have founded the institution. They generally have the following of their own: - spaces - language/terminology - policies
Can you name some Institutions?
The Taking Tree Examples of Institutions Educational Medicine Law and legal system Military or paramilitary forces Police forces Mass media Industry Civil society or NGOs
The Taking Tree From the Trunk of the Taking Tree grow branches that eventually bear Fruit. This Fruit is the product of all the Institutions that make up the Trunk. Different individuals have different experiences with the Fruit of the Taking Tree.
The Taking Tree Questions to Consider: 1) Can folks see the Roots of the Taking Tree? 2) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree and are on the “right side” of the Roots’ supremacies? 3) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree and are on the “wrong side” of the Roots’ supremacies?
The Taking Tree 1) Can folks see the Roots of the Taking Tree? No. The Roots are underground. Folks only interface with the Trunk/Institutions and the Fruit. 2) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree and are on the “right side” of the Roots’ supremacies? Privilege. The “American” Dream. Benefits. Advantages. The Good Life. 3) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree and are on the “wrong side” of the Roots’ supremacies? Impacted by the 3 Strategies of Oppressive Violence: - Physical Violence - Exclusionary/Lack of Access - Internalization/Self-Hatred
The Taking Tree Put in another way… Those who enforce supremacies are oppressors. Those who gain from supremacies are privileged. Those who suffer violence, isolation, and internalization because of their diverse way of being are oppressed. It’s possible to be all three or sometimes a combo of two depending on context.
The Taking Tree All the Roots merge together underground and within the Trunk because Oppression is intersectional. This can mean that individuals or groups can be oppressed by multiple supremacies, but it also means that oppressions are interconnected. The Roots are also constantly hungry to consume other Trees (Cultures & Civilizations). This movement of consuming is called Colonization and Capitalism.
The Taking Tree What is Colonization? Migration (Human) - The physical movement of humans from one area to another. Colonization (Human) - The migration of humans to areas that are under some form of colonialism, such as settler colonies, trading posts, and plantations. Colonialism - When one group of people establish, exploit, maintain, acquire, and/or expand colonies into another group’s territory and then rule that group (usually an indigenous population) overtly and/or set up unequal relationships between colonizers/colonialists and the indigenous population.
Settler Colonialism – A specific form of colonialism where settlers consent to immigrating to a region and populate (also known as “foreign family units”). This usually leads to the depopulation of the original inhabitants and the settlers taking over the now “vacant” land.
The Taking Tree What is Capitalism? This is a relatively new (about 200 years old) economic system based on three things: 1) wage labour (working for a wage) 2) private ownership of the means of production
3) production for exchange and profit
The Taking Tree What is Capitalism? Capitalism is directly related to class struggle and classism. It creates its own Roots within the Taking Tree with the following kinds of classist oppression:
Owners/Capitalists>Workers Workers must be exploited for their labour This is based on the wage/profit binary. Capitalists desire the most profit, which means the smallest wages possible. Workers desire the highest wages, which means smaller profits for Capitalists. This ongoing battle has been called “the class struggle”.
The Taking Tree Breakout Group We will now break out into groups of 3-4. In each of these groups, you will be making a group agreement and having discussion questions. The point of this exercise is to examine the Taking Tree in your own life and collectives/organizations. If your group really wants to talk about solutions, hold off, as we will be doing a follow up exercise about how we can dismantle the Taking Tree in our own lives and collectives/organizations. Once the group is done talking, everyone meets back together to discuss what they’ve learned from the exercise.
The Taking Tree Break Out Group Review: Oppression uses 3 strategies (physical violence, exclusionary, internalization) on 3 levels (individual, cultural, institutional) The next slide will go through some non-graphic examples. Warning: They are very triggering, so if you need to leave the room or get support, it’s okay.
The Taking Tree Break Out Group Examples of Physical Violence (TRIGGER WARNING!) Institutional: anti-Black racist police brutality Cultural: homophobic bashing by Neo-Nazi group Individual: transmisogyny-motivated murder Examples of Exclusion (TRIGGER WARNING!) Institutional: lack of federal legislative protection for trans people Cultural: TWERF/SWERF (“radical feminists” against trans women & sex workers) Individual: non-disabled friend not inviting wheelchair-using friend to hang out because “the wheelchair’s too much of a hassle” Examples of Internalization (TRIGGER WARNING!) Institutional: The Indian Act (how it changes a Native person’s self-perception) Cultural: the “success” of whitening cream among Filipina & Indian women Individual: a woman’s clothing choices being motivated out of fear of fatshaming and/or sex-shaming Examples of Privilege (TRIGGER WARNING!) Institutional: having the “right” to own land and settle/stay as a “citizen” Cultural: transmasculinity & butchness is beloved in queer spaces Individual: cis male puts up with his cis male friend dominating the conversation and cutting him off but is irritated and snaps at his cis female friend if she does this
The Taking Tree Breakout Group 1) Group Agreement (5 min) - respect pronouns and don’t assume - confidentiality & right to pass - how will your group deal with correcting each other? - how will your group deal with trigger warnings? - how will your group deal with “I” statements? 2) Discussion Questions (40 min) - how does each person in your group face physical violence from the Taking Tree on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? - how does each person in your group face exclusion from the Taking Tree on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? - how has each person in your group internalized the Taking Tree on an institutional level? ON a cultural level? On an individual level? - how does each person in your group gain from the Taking Tree on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? 3) Talk Back (15 min)
How can we take down the Taking Tree? How can we Liberate ourselves?
Liberation Strategies - decolonization - strategies to stop --or at minimum create mass awareness of-institutional oppression (protests, direct action, street theatre) - strategies to protect and defend from violence (security culture and safety plans) - disability justice, healing justice, emotional justice, transformative justice - building alliances (between oppressed groups) and allyship (between privileged and oppressed groups) - empowerment; cultural and skill shares; culture-building
Liberation Strategies Decolonization "Indigenous Decolonization is a process that Indigenous people whose communities were grossly affected by colonial expansion, genocide and cultural assimilation may go through by [...] understanding the history of their colonization and rediscovering their ancestral traditions and cultural values. A contemporary concept in Indigenous health and healing studies, decolonization (Indigenous) is that of a healing journey that may involve grief, anger, rage, growth and empowerment[...] It may also incorporate a realization or consciousness that bondage still exists today. Although a nation-states' political independence from a European state may have played itself out on a limited "battlefield," so-to-speak, true independence from foreign occupation has not yet occurred[...] Indigenous Decolonization in real-time physical terms would also mean either an expulsion or exodus of the continuing forces that occupy the indigenous territory or a complete and total elimination of the bondage that exists.Thus indigenous decolonization must incorporate physical, psychological, and emotional and spiritual strategies since the body, the mind and the soul are affected directly by colonialism. True decolonization can be achieved only when all of these components have been addressed or met in some way." - Wikipedia Examples: Institutional – Protesting /abolishing colonial mechanisms; indigenous sovereignty Cultural – Abolishing derogatory mascots and costumes Individual – Acknowledging whose land you’re on and its true history 39
Liberation Strategies Resistance 1) Stopping or changing oppressive institutions and/or their mechanisms 2) Revealing an oppressive institution and/or its mechanism that had concealed itself to avoid public scrutiny and dismantling Examples: Institutional – Prison and police abolition; immigration “reform” and border agency abolition; lobbying for policy and procedural change Cultural – Creating collectives, art, and literature focused on resistance; creating media campaigns to promote a culture shift against an oppressive institution and/or its mechanism Individual – Do not support this oppressive institution and/or its mechanism; spread information about it; make your lack of support known publicly; direct action
Liberation Strategies Security & Safety 1) Protecting yourself from individual, cultural, and institutional violence 2) Protecting your collective/group from individual, cultural, and institutional violence Examples: Institutional – Abolish/protest against police brutality Cultural – Security culture (creating a set of rules and guidelines to minimize state harassment and violence against your group); creating skill shares that teach your group and others about their rights against police and border agents; self-defense skill shares Individual – Creating a safety plan for yourself and with your friends if you’re ever caught in a bashing or facing violence; self-defense skills
Liberation Strategies Disability Justice “As organizers, we need to think of access with an understanding of disability justice, moving away from an equality-based model of sameness and “we are just like you” to a model of disability that embraces difference, confronts privilege and challenges what is considered “normal” on every front. We don’t want to simply join the ranks of the privileged; we want to dismantle those ranks and the systems that maintain them[…] This work is about shifting how we understand access, moving away from the individualized and independence-framed notions of access put forth by the disability rights movement and, instead, working to view access as collective and interdependent[…] Disability justice activists are engaged in building an understanding of disability that is more complex, whole and interconnected than what we have previously found.” – Mia Mingus Examples:
Institutional – Changing policies, language, spaces, training; protesting against the Medical Industrial Complex Cultural – Community care plans of interdependence Individual – Taking ableist language out of your vocabulary
Liberation Strategies Healing Justice Excerpt from “Healing & Health Justice Collective Organizing Principles - US Social Forum Detroit 2010” “We enter this work through an anti-oppression framework that seeks to transform and politicize the role of healing inside of our movements and communities. We are learning and creating this political framework about a legacy of healing and liberation that is meeting a particular moment in history inside of our movements that seeks to: regenerate traditions that have been lost; to mindfully hold contradictions in our practices; and to be conscious of the conditions we are living and working inside of as healers and organizers in our communities and movements.” Examples: Institutional – Questioning, dismantling, and protesting against the Medical Industrial Complex; making spaces and time for healing part of your organization’s policies Cultural – Creating healing collectives; community care support groups; herbal skillshares; safe (r) spaces where people facing the same oppression can heal together Individual – Self-care integrated into community care; reconnecting with ancestral forms of healing 43
Liberation Strategies Emotional Justice “Oppression is trauma. Every form of inequity has a traumatic impact on the psychology, emotionality and spirituality of the oppressed. The impact of oppressive trauma creates cultural and individual wounding. This wounding produces what many have called a “pain body”, a psychic energy that is not tangible but can be sensed, that becomes an impediment to the individual and collective’s ability to transform and negotiate their conditions. Emotional justice is about working with this wounding. It is about inviting us into our feelings and our bodies, and finding ways to transform our collective and individual pains into power. Emotional justice requires that we find the feeling behind the theories. It calls on us to not just speak to why something is problematic, but to speak to the emotional texture of how it impact us; how it hurts, or how it brings us joy or nourishment[…] It is my hope that we realize that just as we must construct new systems and institutions, we must also develop new ways of relating with each other and to our emotional selves.” – Yolo Akili Examples:
Institutional – Making guided dialogues and retreats around emotional discourse as part of your organization’s policies Cultural – Workshops to help collectives or groups learn how to respe ct emotional information as much as reason and logic; also to learn to be accountable instead of using tears/emotions to avoid accountability Individual – Self-education on communication styles , emotional body & language; self-awareness on psychological frameworks, trauma, & defense mechanisms informing our interpretations of reality
Liberation Strategies Transformative Justice “It is a way of practicing alternative justice which acknowledges individual experiences and identities and works to actively resist the state's criminal injustice system. Transformative Justice recognizes that oppression is at the root of all forms of harm, abuse and assault. As a practice it therefore aims to address and confront those oppressions on all levels and treats this concept as an integral part to accountability and healing." - Philly Stands Up "The goals of Transformative Justice are: - Safety, healing, and agency for survivors - Accountability and transformation for people who harm - Community action, healing, and accountability - Transformation of the social conditions that perpetuate violence - systems of oppression and exploitation, domination, and state violence" - Generation Five Examples: Institutional – Survivor-centred policies that offer alternatives beyond police intervention, such as healing circles, mediation, support for person who has done harm Cultural – Workshops and skill shares on self-accountability, TJ, community acountability; Support groups for survivors to heal; Support groups for offenders to keep themselves accountable Individual – Self-accountability practices
Liberation Strategies Building Alliances & Allyship Making an alliance or building allyship with someone is like building a friendship—you can’t just declare yourself someone’s friend without them consenting and agreeing to the relationship. You have to act like a friend and be a friend before the other person decides to call you a friend. Similarly, you have to act like an ally and be an ally to the person or group of people before they decide to call you an ally. “Ally” is not an identity that you can confer upon yourself; it’s something that people consider you to be in relation to them. It’s something that has to be worked on every day and every moment, and can be taken away if you break people’s trust and act against the alliance you’ve built with them. Good friendships and good alliances are based on similar principles: communication, respect, trust, shared values, an exchange of care and/or service.
Liberation Strategies Building Alliances & Allyship Examples Systemic/Institutional - volunteer with organizations/agencies working towards the rights and empowerment of diverse genders and/or sexual orientations and/or ethnicities and/or abilities and/or bodies Cultural - make sure that when you’re focusing on a specific oppression or multiple oppressions, you take leadership from those most impacted so that the people aren’t being misrepresented or co-opted - cultural exchange and alliances between migrants, indigenous peoples, Black peoples, and Orientalized peoples - take part in events that celebrate marginalized groups, their cultures and histories and people Individual - work on being able to take call-outs as an opportunity to learn and not an exercise in defensiveness - work on finding ways to do effective call-outs or redirecting to others and resources if you lack the capacity - work on asking your friends and loved ones what they want from you as an ally and not assume what they need
Liberation Strategies Empowerment, Education & Culture-Building 1) Understanding the history of different oppressions and how you gain from it 2) Understanding the beauty of your own culture outside of or despite of oppression’s affect on it 3) Building new cultural forms in resistance and/or as an alternative to oppression’s cultural impact Systemic/Institutional Examples - creating anti-o policies and procedures; educational reform Cultural Examples - trainings, cultural exchanges, DIY media; eco-villages; free skools - retreats to educate the power and beauty of aspects of ourselves that oppression taught us was worthless Individual Examples - self-education and undoing micro-aggressions
Liberation Strategies Empowerment, Education & Culture-Building Examples for Anti-Oppressive Procedures - making sure staff/members are trained in anti-oppression overall - making sure staff/members have access to training on specific forms of oppression - making sure that the structures that the staff/members access are accommodating to oppressed groups, such as having accessible and gender-neutral washrooms, accessible entrances and doorways, ensuring trans folks can access the bathrooms they identify with if it’s not the gender-neutral ones, prayer rooms for Muslim folks, smudging areas for indigenous folks, etc - making sure that the terminology is inclusive of sexually diverse and gender diverse individuals, such as not conflating genitalia with gender, using gender-neutral language when referring to large groups of people with a variety of genders, not making assumptions that people will be in heterosexual pairings only, etc. - making sure oppressed groups can have separate spaces to heal together, especially from folks who are privileged and may not have worked on their micro-aggressions
Liberation Strategies Empowerment, Education & Culture-Building A Note on Micro-Aggressions Words or gestures done out of ignorance or good intentions that perpetuate culturally and/or institutionally oppressive norms. Usually people do not know that what they’re doing is oppressive and that what they’re doing is a product of how oppression becomes internalized. Internalization is a more insidious form than the other strategies of oppression (violence and isolation) because it is harder to identify and people feel defensive and that their inherent goodness is attacked if their micro-aggression is pointed out to them. It’s important to combat micro-aggressions through self-education, allyship training, and cultural exchanges.
Liberation Break Out Group We will now return to our groups and go through another series of discussion questions. The point of this exercise is to look at liberation strategies and how to incorporate them in our own lives to combat the oppression strategies of violence, exclusion, and internalization. Once your group has gone through the questions, we’ll come all back together to share what we’ve learned.
Liberation Break Out Group Discussion Questions: 1) How can each person in your group decolonize on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? 2) How can each person in your group resist oppression on an an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? 3) How can each person in your group build security & safety on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? 4) How can each person in your group practice disability justice, healing justice, transformative justice and/or emotional justice on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? 5) How can each person in your group build alliances and allyship on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level? 6) How can each person in your group promote empowerment, education, and culture-building on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level?
Debrief & Bike Rack 1) Do you have more questions about heteropatriarchy, sexual orientation, or etiquette concerning trans people? 2) Do you have more questions about capitalism and classism? 3) Do you want to know more about oppression and liberation/anti-oppression frameworks?
4) Do you want to know more about racism? 5) Do you want to know more about building allies and being accountable? 6) Do you have a particular issue that you would rather email me about than ask in front of everyone? ([email protected]
Ottawa Trainers & Facilitators On Transmisogyny DJ Freedman ([email protected]
) Lyra Evans On Anti-Blackness Tarah Douillon Dee Micho
On Settler Colonialism Gabriel Castilloux On Disability Justice & Ableism Abla Abdelhadi For the presenters that do not have their contact info, please contact me first and I will check if they have the capacity to do presentations before connecting you with them.
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