call to how to ACT!

jetlagged and about to pass out, tomorrow i facilitate the womens media equity summit, and then the allied media conference jumps off, and then the us social forum national/local meeting.

but i wanted to repost an excerpt from the localize this! blog i just posted at ruckus. for a while we have been developing this action framework that allows people from very different backgrounds who need to act together to bridge the resource and historic differences and act right, together.

this year we started the camp with these components, after a welcome and then a local contextualization which was powerful. would love to hear folks thoughts on both the trajectory, and the steps of ACT that follow. it will eventually become a tool that can be used far and wide.

EXCERPT (from www.ruckus.org/blog):

“we tried on a new approach for setting the camp culture. we wanted to address that there were folks there from a variety of experience levels in terms of work around anti-oppression and/or decolonization. the model we unveiled is based on our action framework (”a call to how to ACT”).

first we presented a 5-step perspective on moving towards equity.

1. OTHERING: many folks start with viewing folks who aren’t the same race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, ability, etc as “other”. that “other”-ing can manifest in many ways – superiority, enslaving, hating, fearing, suspecting, inferiority.

2. EXOTIFICATION: when an appreciation of some aspect of a person or group of people you see as “other” develops, and becomes a desire. this can manifest as wanting to own it, have it, control it, bed it, eat it, visit it (within a safe bubble – think resorts in “exotic” locations).

3. TOKENIZATION: when logic, self-interest, good intentions or force makes an individual or organization realize that they want/need to have representation of the “other”. this manifests in obvious and/or subtle ways, such as having one (insert black/female/gay/etc) friend, one (insert poor/impacted) board member, or one (differently-abled/trans/immigrant) staff member.

4. EMULATION: wanting to actually put on the behavior, dress, music, names, spiritual practices, political struggles or culture of the “other”. this is deeper than a visit – this is preferring the “other” above your own identity, and believing you have the privilege to just opt-in to the experiences of the “other”. this is most harmful when it manifests as an individual leaving behind their own communities and families and immersing themselves in the communities which their historic ancestors have negatively impacted, taking up space and resources and not respecting or understanding boundaries. what’s deep here is that individuals involved in emulation are often of the belief that they are showing love and respect for the “other”.

5. EQUITY/EQUALITY: when there is equal opportunity to resources, and fairness and justice in terms of decision making. this is a liberated state of mind that allows you and all the people you interact with to exist outside of constant reaction and struggle, and to evolve. this can manifest in respectful sharing of history and culture, deep appreciation of a whole individual (meaning their complex multiple-identities, not just the surface view).in the long-run, this could manifest a world in which sustainability and self-determination are possible for everyone.

i would go so far as to say active equity is the deepest form of love, and to approach the world from a space of equality and equity the most liberated state. i’m not there yet, but i am working on it.

the easiest way to explain the work that i’ve been able to come up with is the ACT model.

A = awareness. being aware of all of who you are in relation to any group you are in, who else is in the group, and the ways in which you can be part of the mainstream (feeling comfortable, normal, understood, powerful), and the ways in which you are part of the margins (uncomfortable, different, misunderstood, powerless). training for change has a great exercise for this which i encourage you to seek out. we asked folks to think this through for themselves with one other person. the first time folks think and speak through this is usually powerful. many people of color, for example, spend our lives being called “minorities” and fighting for resources – it’s powerful to think of all the ways our culture is shaping the mainstream, the spaces in which we are actually the most powerful people in the room. it’s deep to acknowledge we are the world majority, and have been divided and conquered so successfully. it also helps to hear another person share, and realize just how trained our minds are to put people into boxes based on our perceptions, rather than staying open to their actual experiences and history.

C = communication. learning to communicate clearly, powerfully, at the right time, and from your own experience is a lifelong process. but the better you get at being able to actually communicate from a place of awareness, and understand how you want to be communicated to, the more powerful you can be as a member of your community both within your community, and when representing outside of your community. we had the participants get into affinity groups and think about assumptions and offenses often communicated TO their groups, and how other groups in the room could really communicate well with them for the temporary community of the week.

T = truth-n-reconciliation, both as a formal and informal process. we are going to post more about this process in the near future, but the depth of relationship and equity possible when both parties can bring their truth into the room, reconcile differences and past wrongdoings, and pre-empt future offenses and oppression – that depth is astounding, and illuminates what sustainable and self-determined communities really look like.

this is all old knowledge, old growth knowledge, wisdom that already exists in communities and is just waiting to be remembered.

a new friend, logan, then offered a consent process that helps to create a safe space around sex and sexuality – really important when we have folks going through very physical and interactive trainings.”

what do you think?

3 Responses to “call to how to ACT!”


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