Anti-Oppression Meeting Minutes - November 26, 2011

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Unedited meeting notes from Anti-Oppression Working Group meeting 11/26/11.

Previously did anti oppression training. It was clear that the people most needing the training did not attend Tuesday night we are doing some processing.


Vonds UMASS Nicole Susan Michelle Clyde Nick Simba Francesca Jacob Elizabeth Kathy Orin Carl Chris W Ester Andrea Angela Kendra Stasha Bhavin Maureen Linda Chris M

Ground rules

Step up/Step back Both/and Thinking Don't blame, shame or attack Use “I” Statements to speak for yourself Active listening Progressive stack Give 30 seconds for people to think every 20 minutes Diversity of meeting structure so that different learmning and thinkjing styles have a space


Last meeting

There was behavior that people experience as oppressive Within the conversation that if we use the guidelines at the beginning at every meeting, at the end of the meeting we process how we move into the guidelines

we might accomplish the work

The culture of domination has taught us to be competitive and act as though we have privileges (that we do have)

What happened on Tuesday

Situation with Jamarl and the anti-semetic about the crazy video he put up years ago

Jamarl Crawford sent out a series of demands to Occupy Boston

(Originally he had come to the GA and asked for support, the email was a follow up)

An email spoke to tense relations between the organizations

The email was sent all over the place and attacks on Jamarl were spread all overlapping

Angela adds An over view that all of this was going on before this situation. There were experiences in the encampment and working groups were dominated by white men and there were ongoing attempts

There has been a lot of stuff going down that has very subtle racist and sexist overtones

there are people making some inroads. Some successfully, others with no success.

There are very real things happening in the

Nicole stopped staying in the camp

Occupy the Hood started and the white men said that this was dividing them and that the Occupy the Hood was racist.

The email thread was BS. Nicole felt she should speak up

Weeks later the email thread popped up again. The metro article came up and the white men felt they were dividing them with racism


This is a broader issue than this email chain. The email chain reveals other chains and there are other people who feel oppression in this group for being of different ability. There was already a history in place.

Carl There was an article in the Boston Metro a free paper on the racism at OB. A big article "Racial Rift at Occupy Boston" This was an opportunity to do an enormous amount of unpacking

The POC group was having meeting and there was a request that people were wondering where the white people were and when they were going to deal with this racism

There was not an explicit call to show up

Katie from outreach drafted a proposal to help Jamarl with demands and sent it to the outreach list and that was forwarded. She was accused of attempting to co-opt the movement

It was really exploding and going in bad ways

It is much more complicated. We need to deal with what happened Tuesday night

George Lee has sent a long email list

People have been evicted, their tents thrown away, go to the GA and have not been heard. Were told to move from the Gandhi lane. Now have declared the tent the poc working tent. They do not want to do anything with the GA> Want to carve out their own space. Figuring how to take their concerns and do something about it.

On Tuesday night

The POC group got a bunch of people to bring forth the white allies of OB up to speak to the racism that was going on at the camp

POC stay in on the camp also

Carl came to the POC tent at about six an there were ten or so people there and they had been meeting for several hours. A lot of the discussion was happening before that


Wants to know if we are going sequentially or what next Susan has pointed out before that the space is used as a healing space and I suggest that we have a short narration of Tuesday and move on to the next steps

We have to have some discussion at the GA

There were different things happening at different locals

Susan says that the white allies got together while the POC were still meeting in the tent.

What happened when everything went down. There was a meeting that he POC held to narrow down the statement that needed to be presented

There are many perspectives as to where people are.

Monday there was a revival of an email from Jamarl regarding the Money and anti semitism . Kendra sent out an email regarding her experience. And we decided that this could not continue to happen

George Lee asked Bhavin what was going on and decided there needed to be a meeting to get a feel for what was going on.

People were at a point of whatever people wanted to do. The POC group felt like they were going to the GA and not being heard. The POC group wanted to be more self reliant. There are people camping there who have been houseless for a time. Wanted mentoring, and some education into a better job situation. They were less interested in dealing with the GA and want more insight into getting into a better financial situation and wanting to have their own space to not have to deal with the wider society.

Myrna came over and we talked further and we still did not have a concrete statement. George compiled a list of some of the concerns we were having.

Susan put a proposal forward to OB and it was understood to come along under the issue and we all showed up at the GA to eventually present our concerns.

We were able to go out and we asked the white allies to speak to the crowd and let them understand from their own voices and people that racism is alive and well at Occupy Boston.

There are people in the POC group who are less experienced with speaking out and

When we are talking about folks talking about the POC group there are many who live there.

The winds of change was that the POC group felt that there was some support from the wider group ( of White members) of Occupy Boston

Once they knew that there were people there to support the group. George took some of the concerns to the GA.

We introduced the white allies to talk about the issues of race, classism and sexism

Nicole was speaking to her white allies while we were waiting.

Nicole heard the reactions to the white people at the meeting and there was an odd sense of urgency that this needed to be dealt with immediately

There was a rush to get some kind of statement NOW. For what reason, I still don't know.

This is something that needs to be dealt with over the long run and for the long haul

Angela is a very difficult position

She is very quick to transfer and relate what she is thinking and feeling into words

A few things

I'll just start with I added the preface that doing a lot of the on ground work between people of different races has been very fulfilling in putting into action about what I have been taught about dealing with racism

I was very disheartened with what happened on Tuesday

At first Mariama approached me and asked if I would please do something, because things seemed to be happening too fast. Many people were asking that she still would step in.

I think personally that (judgmentally) that a piece of where we didn't go right was our own racism.

Telling the racism is and telling folks how badly they were doing things'

Our refusal to look at what we are doing ourselves on a day to day basis all the time has got me up here at this point

There might be a person of color, whoever they are doing something we know that they need to address, but most won't talk to them for fear that they are coming across as racist

to have several white people come up on the stage and preach and look down on folks and telling them what they should be doing and talking in terms and terminology in a way that reinforced a lot of the denial and the push back for what had been happening

The night before a white man had been doing a preach down on many people and I took him aside and asked him to calm down

I think many people there do not know who they are talking to. Speak from your own experience and do not try to tell people how they are going to address the problematic How do we address the rhetoric

We have to make strong statements of solidarity

Time check

Question about Tuesday

understood the narrative up to the GA and the POC learned there were white allies outside.

All went to the GA and who said what etc

Maureen is coming from two other meetings

One perspective is that this started was and email from Maanav, about a call from an individual and from the POC caucus.

There was an email that we needed to do something tonight at the GA

People needed to step up and when we got there the GA was started.

We did not know what was going on in the POC tent and there was a communication gap

The GA process has very delineated sections and there is hesitancy once a proposal has started it is hard to stop it. There was a feeling that that window of opportunity was closing and that it would feel like a closing of the chance to make a statement

The urgency was due to the time constraint of the need to get up on the stage and bring a statement due to the lack of clarity from the POC tent Should we bring our own experience or wait for the communicated statement.

It was an imperfect situation

In the end what resonated, is if a person got on individual stack and spoke as an individual we got up and used the people's mike

Not knowing what the POC caucus wanted from us it was a way to shoe support without specifically forming a working group etc.

There was a feeling that we had to propose the white allies group. The POC groups was not together with a statement., we discussed what the grievances were and then we went to the mike with white allies on one side an the POC group on the other side. The other piece was that after we came out we got off and this should go into proposals.

The crowd wanted to address this, but it was a very disorganized process at this stage.

Once the POC came out we were able to communicate with each other and come up with a plan

Primarily speaking to the second statements Michelle is honoring what Angela said about face to face and knowing one another. George called people to come down

Taking guidance from those who have been on site for a while

There was a lot of miscommunication from the POC group for guidance as to how we would communicate individually how we have experienced these events

the white group was able to move further with some guidance and there was a different impact than was intended/

We need further discussions


This was a very messy situation. There was a lot going on that is still being dealt with. The white allies might do some of this work together in unpacking that would be a great beginning for the white allies discussion

It feels like that moment was on of the most powerful moments in my activist career. To have the sense that I was being called to be present was really great

It also felt like the beginning of accountability which is something we can work on in general in this movement

This is what I have been waiting foreseeable there were many positive feelings that I have and I still have, this is the beginning

Some challenges for me are still there. I think everyone was there for the right moments with the right attitude in their hearts.

Challenges were that the people came out with a series of requests that written on paper that were never brought forth.

These were never brought forth

TO wrap it up I feel it was a beginning and it was messy, challenging and problematic for many reasons, but I am excited about using that experience to talk more thoroughly about what was wonderful and what could be done better.

Something tells me that people should have a conversation and we should come back to this at the next meeting.

How the dominant culture really wanted to rush the process means we have a lot of learning to do

A question about an apparently discreet series of events that occurred Monday and Tuesday

Carl wanted to add that the complimentary angle to what Susan said about getting to be able to be an ally

I do no want to speak to other people

It was proposed that we empower this to white people explaining this to people already to not be heard. People were excited by the idea of allowing the allies to speak and someone came up and mike checked that racism was a problem. Two people came up and mike checked that they wanted to have other speak

Clarifying question---why can't we all be color blind?

that was a baited question. (I see color) It felt like being in a boat that was sinking with life boats. We do not have to say anything, the people interrupting. Some people understand and it gets to be sickening.

People trying to get everyone else to scream with themselves The visual was great the people standing on stage in two groups there was a third narrative that was going on. DA was sneaking a tent in during this moment

Nicole reminded that during the DA moment the white allies were trying to have ten conversations at the same time

Nicole stepped away and came back with a message that was very important

Nicole came back with the fact that DA has offered support to the white allies when they need it. They are trying to offer more support and there is some progress happening.

The Next Steps

Katie's question is this group would be talking about Tuesday. She also wanted some follow on the Monday night GA. No Monday GA

Alex Pappali (from the POC group) had sent out an email suggesting that there be a meeting to talk about what went down.


the women's group were organizing around accountable . We want accountability for the sexism at the camp

This conversation has been happening. There is an anti sexist male ally group. They want to run this through the women's caucus and have this work somehow, all groups do not have males/non-POC present etc.

Jacob and Matt Jackson wrote that proposal. The group does not exist yet and we need people to be active in this if we are to change anything. How can we be directed by the women's caucus

Clyde In my experience in working with groups that agree in an accountable relationship, there is an agreement as to what that means

The admission to the POC or the women's group are articulated the allies agree to support that mission

there is an agreements three things in an ally. They are supportive in the sense that they are present

There are those allies who know how to articulate their case. You can say this is what we want and then there are those good at articulating

The best allies can go into a group of men and deal with male supremacy or racism without being guided.

Those type of people need to have a relationship and to be trusted to be an ally

Many people will say they are an ally and then step up and do all the speaking or use the platform as a ego stroke and are often not rela friends who take leadership from the oppressed group

I work with a nation of white people color group and we try to have a regional meeting that are accountable

It has something to do with accounting.

You cannot have people who are accountable who cannot tell what they have done

At the inner society we have an attitude that men can step up for women of their groups. we made a statement on Saturday night. You should come Saturday to hear what women go through

Angela would like to build on the foundation of accountability

My politicalization was through the Native American and the Puerto Rican solidarity movement.

First and foremost there has to be a spirit of solidarity.

The notion of solidarity is as simple as possible is that I am not free if you are not free. The degradation of a person of color is the degradation of myself

At the center of this is accountability

Also the need to do my own work

it might really be helpful to listen to this group of poc to hear that we are willing to take leadership from themselves there have to be relationships and there has to be an explicit agreement that this is a mutual agreement that we walk into and that there is a specific process through which we walk through things.

Not a hunch but the explicit terms used.

One idea for men being anti-sexist male allies having a specific set of criteria like stepping up when people are acting in inappropriate ways, being sexist, can be moved into the anti racist meetings too.

Moving forward before there is a problem

I have been trying know what to do .

Facilitator for the next meeting

Just speaking for myself with the privilege I have is to see if we can exchange emails or stay in communications Chris had something to add about one of the thins going on with what Carl said. Many are young and homeless and many are talking about basic survival, they need sleeping bags, they are starting to get politicized. This is much bigger than the Occupy movement. They have very practical survival needs like a sleeping bag and flash lights. If we are really humble allies we can help them with very simple things. It is not fundraising ourselves, there is plenty of money in the pot.

Before picking next facilitators

Carl said one of the things that a bunch of people went to the United day of Native Americans day of mourning event, there were many people there and many people spoke

they were talking about the word occupy, they feel it is ridiculous.

Some of us are thinking about it in terms ow how it is received.

Political will and how much strength you can mobilize.

do we change the name. Because of the opportunities have been created the time is right now in Boston to say a lot about all of the ills being dealt with in town and around the world right now. The Palestinian people can ever see the merit in the discussion/

bringing forward that George has an email that we have to discuss

We did talk about having facilitators at the next meeting about how we did around these ground rules

All I wanted to say feel we have to do a proposal around decolonizing Boston Friday 5:30 at the food court mezzanine at 5:30

Nicole got run over in the stack process and feels a little pinched

We will work to get everyone's voice heard more regularly

In our conversations, did people experience themselves in stepping up and stepping back. Did we experience there would be problems with this?

In response to this, that I am easily heard and I use my privilege to be heard and I can step up when there is silence

Ester feels good about this , felt there was a frustration about the conversation not leaving room for all to talk.

I think that there is a tendency for certain voices to be heard and I am aware of how that is functioning. It is a place for us to model these rules and I don't think this is working. Some speak more and for longer and the facilitation has not worked, if step up step back is not working how do we deal with that in this space.

We want the space to have higher standards being on the same page. If I feel it is not working, how do we come up with a way to hold us accountable to that.

If we are going to talk about this do you want me to step back . This is being misdirected.

An idea in a practice in the Quaker committee that no one speaks twice until everyone has the opportunity to speak once, this leaves a space of silence for people who have not had a chance to speak to finally pitch in.

If we personalize it is one person trying to fix themselves rather

I have been facilitating for years and I do not use stack. I think that stack destroys the spontaneity.

We can talk about it later

Both and thinking on the Tuesday, we got something when people were mirroring these concerns. It contributed to how powerful things were

both as in it was not an either or, Tuesday was not a failure, it had both weaknesses and strengths

Looking at the visions and the suggested guidelines and how different realities can exist together

Tuesday caused distress in some and happiness in others

That but can be used to excuse the preface

(this is true but)

Don't shame blame or attack

Using I statements

Was I shamed, did I blame someone, or did I attack anyone

We can use this and say yes or no and see what is true in a group

I felt a little tense about discussing this ground rule. I did feel tension and defensive at time, I am not sure if I am being overly sensitive and it is very difficult to know if I am not sure if it is my asthma

I feel like dealing with Kendra's situation and quit the tent and was not really dealt with.

Does the group need to put some concrete things on the agenda and have a more concrete discussion.

We can have a case study about something that is not being spoken too

There was attack and there is a disagreement and now it is harder to enforce the rules because of how things were reacted to

We want people to feel free to speak without feeling like they are attacked.

Stasha, there is a model to this that there is plus minus delta and triangle.

Room for disagreement...oops..ouch what's up with that?

Plenty of that. Had a what's up with that with the interruption and the loss of order in the stack process and order of people who were able to speak.

Give 30 seconds for people to think every 20 minutes

diversity of meeting structure so that different learning and thinking styles have space

bulk of the discussion did not allow the 30 seconds did not happen.

If people are interested in this.. could we go on the in and look for single techniques to address

Pie chart presented as to who spoke the most

Diversity of the meeting structure

Techniques for finding something to incorporate into each meeting, prayer, silence a hymn, comic relief or what have you

m experience when hashing out an agenda, bear in mind these kinds of things that you are suggesting. What we do as a group is not always understandable. Allow people to set an agenda. I am tired at the moment, but it is a concrete question.

There are those in the majority of the meeting who might make more time.

In the sense of the process of reviewing, at the end o the meeting flag those that we need to work on and figure out how to better do this. Know which of these are most needed to be worked on . The stacking process strikes me as something to work on when brainstorming.

Nicole is upset about a major outrage to the what's up with that and people are having a discussion and people should not be shrugged off and it really sucks coming from a man of color. We need to be very cognizant of the feelings of those who are not always being heard in order.

We need to make sure that this is addressed each time it happens. Nicole had a real what's up with that moment and felt whe was dismissed in this step.

We would like to do what we can to help and not to move on.

It is hard. No one has the authority, it is an aggressive move and it should not be a space for aggression.

Part of this work is not having a physical and big move. I am putting my physical body between this, when there are two women talking, I felt this was not heard when I brought.

My background is one aggression has been a hard part of my life. We have to bring it up because there are times when people completely ignore you and you don't know how to address the situation.

When she brought it up, she did not adequately explain why this is a problem.

Angela is sitting on a pretty big ouch herself and has heard that she talks too much and she takes up space and feels weird that she cannot claim her own ouch.

This is the script that is in my head. This is a conundrum I have experienced for years, when facilitating I am good at it but when and participating I am not as good at it. My mind sits on much of what I have to say, I feel like some of what I have to say is or is not important.

When I asked a question that seemed to horrify everyone, bc it felt so indirect. I shared a piece about the history and backup and my personal perspective about what went down and accountability. I was curious about your thing and about being in the medium of this. There are many interpretation about my own stuff about being requested to take back. I used to take it, but now I am having trouble to understand what I am doing that is taking up too much space and time. The contradicting of feeling and ouch and then silencing myself because of feedback is something I have to grapple with

feeling the pressure of time. This work is really hard, process is important and we can get bogged down in process. Some of this can be dealt with out of the group and not during the group

right now we have to get back on the task of finding facilitators for the next group. It has been a good meeting.

In finding facilitators for the next group , how is this done. Can we have someone facilitate for next week.

At the meetings I am at we wait for someone to volunteer.

We are honoring what linda said about silence. It si not just you.

Bhavin. Two people to facilitate, one person to find space and email out the information before the next meeting.

The first facilitators Who would like to do that.

Saturday (12/3) there will be a 10-2 then 2-4pm. It should not conflict too much. We should leave enough time to do all of the work we have to do.

We are tired and urgency, we are overly task oriented. We should have the space to hear what we are feeling. If we need to take extra time we should do it. Part of this work is healing the difficult emotional work.

In earlier meetings we were more conscious of time and allowed those who needed to leave.

Maybe we can email something out and have the people available facilitate.

We have to have people facilitate, secure the space and send out the email within 24 hours. If no one knows who is facilitating I we might nominate people

Would like to nominate Andrea

Who would co facilitate

I can email.

Co-facilitators Andrea and Carl and Meck will be in charge of finding space. Kendra will send out the email.