On July 15, over 40 members of the CNY Solidarity Coalition attended a workshop on Confronting Oppression and White Privilege: Keys to Effective Social Justice Action.
Below are my notes from this workshop, please feel free to add your own notes by posting a comment at the bottom. Thank you.
Opening by playing “Stand By Me” by Playing for Change
This workshop was led by the National Coalition Building Institute International (NCBI). Our facilitators were Phyllis Alexander and Ira Baumgarten.
Ira talked about someone holding a sign and someone coming up to them to ask. Are you changing anyone’s mind? And the person replied I don’t know, but no one is changing mine.
Phyllis shared the quote by Lilla Watson,
If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
There are two different models of helping: the charity model vs social justice. The charity model is about giving but social justice is about learning, teaching and sharing. Which made me think about the proverb: Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.
We are taught to compare everything to something else and we need to stop doing this. This creates a competitive atmosphere, stirring jealously and creates this idea that someone is better than which is false. No one is better than anyone else. We are all human and we all learn through our own experiences.
We need to feel, accept and face the fact we all have been lied to.
Pain that is not transformed is transmitted.
We are good people with misinformation.
We learned about “Calling in” instead of “Calling out” We are all trying but we will make mistakes and it is better to learn from them and apologize than to get defensive.
Here are some resources I looked up more on this:
Calling In: A Quick Guide on When and How by Sian Ferguson
Calling in, not Calling out | Meliha Grbic
Multiple coalition members were very interested in this concept of Calling in instead of Calling out so if you have more information about practicing this please share with us.
Tell your story of how you were marginalized. Share your experiences to connect and learn with others. Don’t speak for someone else.
When doing an activity the organizers would ask “Did I leave anyone out?” and the goal is to have an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable to speak their truth. (Ex) The Ira asks anyone who was born in the west to stand up, anyone in the midwest, anyone in the south, anyone downstate, anyone Central New York, etc. At the end, Ira says did I leave anyone out? And a member says Hudson Valley. Another says Arizona because everyone’s definitions vary because of their own experiences. No one is incorrect, but everyone should be included.
We did an exercise about stereotypes. Even if we know these are not right. They still exist and we need to be upfront about them to address them. Positive stereotypes still hurt because it creates jealously in this this world of competition.
We need to be proactive and intentional to address stereotypes.
A judgement is based on only 15% of the story you need to learn more through others experiences.
Be Authentic, Be Present, Don’t Assume.
Being polite all the time means you don’t get to know each other.
During the stereotype discussion, we had a very hard time to answer the question of what are three things you love about being white? For myself, this is hard to answer because I was not raised to talk about being white or any color in the age of being “colorblind”.
How to have a conversation to build relationships
If someone has a different view than you, instead of being reactive and defensive, try asking them more about why they feel that way. Listen for the “ouch” under lying why they have this view.
In multiple meetings, I have heard that facts do not change people’s mind. It’s about how you make them feel.
This is something you can try and practice only when you are feeling able to stay grounded and keep a good tone.
Different between compromise & collaboration:
Compromise is when in a conversation you go back and forth with someone only getting bits and pieces
Collaboration is when they get to tell their whole truth and then you get to tell yours. Then you can come together to see the similar concerns.
If there is a conversation happening that is getting heated. Then it is your responsibility to interrupt. To cool it down, say something like “Thank you for showing us how hard this is.” Maybe take a break. Then see if the individuals would like to talk one on one with another party to make sure they are being heard.
We need to be prepared to hear things we may not agree with but to zip it. It is important to actively listen. We do not always need to respond. We need to listen and accept their truth.