Agreements for Dialogues and Definitions

Some of What’s Up?! gatherings (meetings, workshops, study groups, etc.) begin with the following Beliefs and Community Agreements adapted from the AORTA collective:

Beliefs
–Oppression exists
–We have all been targets and agents of oppression.
–All systems of oppression are connected – intersectionality (coined by Kimberly Crenshaw)
–Dismantling systems of oppression will benefit everyone.
–It is not useful to argue about the hierarchies of oppression.
–Placing blame helps no one. Taking responsibility helps everyone.
–Confronting social injustice is both painful and joyful (it’s a beautiful struggle)!

Community Agreements
–One Diva One Mic
–No one knows everything, together we know a lot
–Be curious
–What’s learned here leaves here; what’s said here stays here
–Speak from your own experiences
–Move up! Listen up!
–Assume good intentions
–Leave space for emotion
–It’s ok not to know
–Don’t expect closure
–There is nothing wrong with silence
–Do what you need to feel safe – Participate to your ability – Practice Self Care

Some Working Definitions

  • White Supremacy: is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.” – Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez
  • Social Justice: A vision of society in which the distribution of resources, opportunity, societal benefits and protection is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole. – Baltimore Racial Justice Action
  • White Privilege: White privilege, or “historically accumulated white privilege,” as we have come to call it, refers to whites’ historical and contemporary advantages in access to quality education, decent jobs and livable wages, homeownership, retirement benefits, wealth and so on. The following quotation from a publication by Peggy McIntosh can be helpful in understanding what is meant by white privilege: “As a white person I had been taught about racism that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage. . . White privilege is an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in every day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” (from “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”) – Aspen Institute
  • Equity: The condition that would be achieved if the identities assigned to historically oppressed groups no longer acted as the most powerful predictor of how one fares, with the root causes of inequities, not just their manifestations, eliminated. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce or fail to eliminate differential outcomes by group identity/background (economic, educational, health, criminal justice, etc.). – Baltimore Racial Justice Action
  • Intersectionality: the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. This was first named by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, though the concept can be traced back to the 19th century. The theory suggests that—and seeks to examine how—various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, caste, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systemic injustice and social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and belief-based bigotry, do not act independently of one another. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination. Wikipedia
  • Racism: The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, educational, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, characterized by white supremacy. Structural racism is racism underneath and across society, permeating its entire history, culture and institutions. Structural racism within U.S. culture perpetuates, normalizes and legitimates the effects of racism, while often making those effects invisible to the narrow legal definition of unlawful discrimination. – Baltimore Racial Justice Action
  • Accountability: “Accountability is a position by which one will be held in check or account for one’s decisions and actions…the acceptance of a role fits within a cultural, political, and social perspective that leads to the liberation of peoples of color from racism, oppression and cultural subordination. It requires a commitment to the vision of African Americans and other oppressed peoples to assume self-determination over those areas deemed by them to directly affect their lives.” (Definition from Undoing Racism Workshop by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.)

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