Readings for Engagement Month

Future Zarahs by William Powers

The Revolution Will Note Be Funded by Pail Kivel

Practical Activism in Difficult Situations
Pitzer College ResLife Fall Training 2015

Dominant Groups Subordinate Groups
Always believe the other person’s experience Engaging the aggressor in a conversation through questions. This could help give you context. You can create a space for dialogue and vulnerability.
Coalition  Building – in a way that’s driven, not by what you think, but by the way that people who are impacted believe they can be best supported When the aggressor is in a position of power, recognizing that is difficult. How can you use YOUR power to make an intervention? Read the environment. Are there others that can join you? What are the consequences? Assessing what intervention is going to be most effective for allies and targets.
Being willing to ask for guidance… how can I be an ally? (and if others don’t have desire or capacity to teach you, then seek mentors who are allies) Coalition Building- you are not alone!
Honor the experience of the person coming to you and your own experience Asking for ally ship, coming to others who are not part of your marginalized identity group, reaching out to build relationships and/or a coalition.
When you feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed… it’s so uncomfortable that you may check out because it’s too painful… be mindful and present to your own reaction Finding the delicate balance between protecting yourself and being vulnerable enough to address a microaggression with an aggressor. You can’t give up self-protection, but vulnerability is important to make those human connections. Will you be wrong sometimes? Yes. Will you be right sometimes? Yes.
Don’t allow guilt and shame to keep you from taking responsibility and being present to the experience of the other On who’s shoulders do you stand and who are you accountable to? Being accountable for the people that came before and the people who come after.
On who’s shoulder do you stand and to whom are our accountable? Not fighting every fight- it’s okay to not let a microaggression ruin your day. Choose your battles.
Reflect on the groups you are a part of that may be perpetuating oppression and whether you can call them out. Can you always call out your mom? Can you call out your friends? What does that look like? Can you call them UP instead of OUT? Engage in self-care. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare” Audre Lorde.
Aim for dialogues over a fight. Ask questions.
Knowing what to step in and when not to. Ask questions.
Not fighting every fight.
Engage in self-care. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare” Audre Lorde.


Tips for being an effective social justice ally and advocate
Research has shown that prejudice is countered when critical thinking, empathy development, and positive self-esteem are nurtured. It is important to think about how we can most effectively raise the complex issues of hate, bias, scapegoating, and exclusion so that conversations about cultural understanding and respect are not limited to commemorative events, or other special programs, holidays, or activities but instead, are a part of everyday life. Creating inclusive, respectful communities is an ongoing effort and working for social justice is a life-long endeavor. To prepare for successfully raising issues of diversity, bias, and social justice with others, attempt to make the following practices an integral art of daily practice:

  1. Self-Exploration – Examine personal cultural biases and assumptions. Explore personal perceptions and understanding of situations by developing an awareness of personal cultural “filters”. Keep abreast of current anti-bias and social justice issues. Always consider yourself a lifelong learner, a part of the continual learning process about social justice.

  2. Comprehensive Integration – Integrate culturally diverse information/perspectives into all aspects of learning. Go beyond the constraints of your own cultural history by incorporating multiple perspectives into your worldview, through immersion in other cultural literature, arts, languages, and community experiences.

  3. Accepting Environment – Establish an environment that allows for mistakes. Since most people have been unconsciously acculturated into prejudicial and stereotypical thinking, individuals may not be aware that certain attitudes are hurtful to others. Acknowledge that intolerant thinking will surface from time to time in others and ourselves. Model non-defensive responses when told that something you said or did was offensive to someone.

  4. Intervention – Be prepared to respond to purposely-directed acts of bias. Silence in the face of injustice conveys the impression that prejudicial behavior is condones or not worthy of attention. Make it clear to those around you that name-calling, slurs, offensive jokes, and outright prejudicial behavior will not be tolerated. Appropriate and timely intervention is critical in interrupting both interpersonal and institutional acts of bias.

  5. Discovery Learning – Avoid “preaching” to others about how they should behave. Research indicates that exhortation is the least effective methodology for changing prejudiced attitudes; in fact, it often produces a result opposite from the desired effect. Create opportunities for yourself and other to resolve conflicts, solve problems, work in diverse teams, and think critically about information.

  6. Life Experience – Provide opportunities for everyone to share their distinct life experiences in order to recognize differences, celebrate similarities, and develop empathy. Make every attempt to make any space you are a part of (school, work, home, place of worship, etc.) one where no one’s experiences are marginalized, trivialized, or invalidated. Prejudice and discrimination have a unique impact on each individual. We all develop a variety of coping strategies based upon the type and frequency of discrimination we have experienced. It is never fruitful to engage in a debate over who has suffered the most. Oppression is harmful to all people in all of its forms.

(Adapted from ADL “Creating an Anti-Bias Learning Environment” curriculum resources)