Anti-Oppression Meeting Minutes - December 3, 2011

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Participants

Susi, Maureen, Mick, Jen, Bhavin, Susan, Salma, Ester, Meck, Michelle, Clyde, Lisa, Cathy, Jade, Chris, Jude

Facilitators: Carl, Andrea

Start Ups

Intro Question: Who are you and how do you identify?

Ways of Being

  • Step up step back
  • Both/and
  • Don’t blame, shame, attack
  • Room for disagreement - oops, ouch, what’s up with that
  • Can use hand signals
  • Use "I" statements speak for yourself
  • Active listening - affirmative gestures body language towards speaker, no multitasking
  • Progressive stack
  • Give 30 seconds for people to think every 20 minutes
  • Diversity of structuring meetings to allow for different learning and thinking styles
  • No screens, laptops, smart phones


Concentric Circles Exercise

1. What do you love about this moment?

2. What pushes your buttons?

3. What is something people don’t know about you?

4. What are you afraid of?

5. What do you dream of?


Our Vision

Time is like dog years in like occupy. In occupy it’s enough to think out one year to think about the future. The idea for the next exercise is to answer this question in small groups: What is our vision of our work? In one year, what are we, the Anti-Oppression Freedom Working Group, proud of having successfully accomplished in Occupy Boston and beyond?

Three small groups worked on answering this question in three sentences or less → report outs:

GROUP 1:

  1. That we still exist as a movement and that our movement is sustainable with enough elasticity to keep us all sane, take care of personal lives model more sustainable life giving movement
  2. That we facilitated the building of relationships across racial, class, gender and other divides and kept the well being of the most marginalized 99% at the center of our efforts
  3. We furthered greater consciousness of systemic, interpersonal, internal and cultural barriers that keep us apart and built tools and practices for connecting and for empathizing with each other

GROUP 2:

Beloved Community

  • Create a movement that is a welcoming space where people are inspired to understand their own power in community and share their gifts
  • Learn values that reflect multigenerational community that lives close to mother earth in a sustainable way (hope this becomes a phrase we use)
  • Anti oppression toolbox or resources that can move out of this group towards the movement

GROUP 3:

  • We inspired a new culture of liberation, resistance, beloved community, safety, courage, accountability, compassion
  • We created spaces for reflection, deep relationships, learning, transformation, sharing analyses, critical and creative thinking, fun

THEMES emerging about our vision:

  • Relationships
  • A concern with interpersonal relationships and compassion
  • Concept of creating a new culture and of shared values have resonance and they´re very similar
  • The word sustainable, which is important to me as a mother, fun means sustainable to me
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Reflection, learning, understanding your own power, learning
  • Space
  • Tools
  • Culture
  • Beloved community
  • Inspire
  • Life giving
  • Gifts
  • Create and build

Wheel of Power and Privilege

All of us hold ways we are oppressed and ways we are privileged. Becoming more aware of those aspects of our identity and how we want to use and not use that knowledge in our work together. The more you’re on the inside, the more you’ll be protected from bumps. The more you’re on the outside of the wheel, the more you get hit with bumps.

Using the “wheel” visual, we paired up to talk about where we fall on the in or outside of the wheel:

  • Where do you identify in or out of the wheel?
  • What comes up for you?
  • What surprises you?

Reflections on this Exercise

  • Fluidity of a number of these categories
  • Complexity in terms of how it changes depending where you are in terms of physical location, country
  • I wasn’t surprised that I was privileged at all, but I didn’t feel that some of the categories were adequate. I’m a citizen, but I consider myself an immigrant. Sometimes you are depressed and feel physically and cognitively impaired and sometimes you don’t.
  • There is another category that seems important, which is whether you grew up with or have access to a stable support system or not. Some of the pies might almost be larger to indicate how much the inners and outers conflict and contact each other all the time. Like with gender, I’m always dealing with men and I can’t get away from it. That doesn’t seem the same as English or non-English. With the OJ Simpson trial, everybody was so eager to talk about race but nobody was going to say anything about the gender problem. I concluded that this was because the media is selling to people in their homes, male female couples, and they don’t want to hear about it. They’re always intertwined and they never get addressed. People are phobic about addressing gender.
  • There’s something about the outside of the wheel. Being in women’s or queer community whatever that means, I feel there’s something in that I wouldn’t get that feels powerful and wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, so sometimes I don’t know about inside outside.
  • We were discussing how much privilege we have, how much we located ourselves on the inside of the wheel and the implications in building beloved community. It means that we have so much work to do in terms of consciousness around how that privilege is playing out and that we need to be constantly reflecting about that and creating space where we can discuss that, be called out on those privileges and not become defensive, but take it as an opportunity to be in process of decolonization of our beings.
  • A lot of that is important to think about not only how we identify ourselves in our circle but also how people perceive us. We need to own that and use it in a productive way and not get defensive about it. It’s a learning opportunity.
  • I think a lot about audience, who I’m talking to and what they’re prepared to hear. I was talking to a Russian Jewish person for an hour at OB. She said “I don’t like these people,” and by the end she was going to look up the Dream Act. She was wealthy. Knowing where you are on the wheel and where the other person actually is on the wheel and where they think they are. You cannot say to someone by the way, you’re here. That’s complicated, tricky, and fascinating. And where you appear to be on that to people. Whenever you’re having a conversation there are four points going on all at the same time.

Checking our Ways of Being

We reviewed the ways of being and discussed how well we did with them at this meeting. An “oops, ouch” was brought up, we discussed it, and agreed that we have an opportunity, as we are building beloved community, to start speaking up in the moment when an oops, ouch happens rather than waiting until the end of our meeting to bring it up, or not bringing it up at all. We will work towards being more constructive by bringing up ouches in the moment.

We agreed to introduce a new hand signal for the ways of being in the future – time out – so that anyone can call a time out when there is an oops, ouch moment during the meetings and/or when it would be helpful to take a 30 second break. This will allow anyone in the group, not just the facilitators, to call for a 30 second break when it is needed.


One Word Check Out

Learning • Beloved • Appreciative • Impressed • Mm • Grateful • Wow • Community • Continuing • Meh • Beloved • Hopeful • Real • Concerned

Thank you to our facilitators!

Now we have a bit of a north star to work from.


Next Steps

Andrea and Carl will be the facilitators for the next TWO meetings so that we have more continuity in the planning and facilitation of our meetings.

Salma will look for a space for the next meeting.

Potential topics, questions, issues for next meetings:

  • What are we moving into? Last time a lot of time was unpacking, debriefing the GA and it hadn´t been planned by facilitators. This meeting tonight was great. There’s so much here to build on. Are we proactive or reactive? I’m mindful that we have some kind of commitment possibly based on what happened at the Tuesday GA with white allies and people of color working group to come back to the occupy camp, to GA.
  • I thought we were accountable to the people of color working group and the OB community to facilitate anti oppression work.