Active Solidarity and Intersectional Organizing "If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let's work together." To break free from self-perpetuating, often unconscious cycles of oppression within marginalized communities, including those in our own activist circles, the training at ULEX focused on deepening the practices of active solidarity, equity (meaning equal access), and empowerment. All of which we need to embody, in order to help us to manifest the values we are striving for. We specifically addressed issues related to gender, racism, and ableism within the composition of our groups. In our sessions, we had a closer look at the mechanisms of guilt and shame, which often coincide with the themes of privilege and oppression. Those mechanisms are psychologically capable of making us complicit with the aims of patriarchal colonial capitalism to individualize, punish and immobilize. On the other hand, we discussed the potential of remorse and visions of accountability and learning about social ranks and privileges within our intersectional community work as ways to bring us closer with the goals of active solidarity. Fostering a conscious culture of solidarity and learning necessitates a focus on the active roles we can assume in the complex web of intersecting oppressions experienced by members of our communities. By adopting the practices we acquired at ULEX, we can transform relationships characterized by inequality, oppression, and disempowerment into relationships rooted in solidarity and mutual agency. This approach allows us to become increasingly adept at transforming harmful tensions and conflicts into opportunities for growth. Furthermore, skillfully engaging with diversity enables us to incorporate a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and histories, fostering more adaptable, resilient, and powerful movements. Our organizations and movements can become more creative, courageous and effective, while we get to be fueled by more compassion and care and less by guilt, blame or reactivity. Through this way of working, we can become increasingly skilled in transforming harmful tensions and conflict into growth opportunities. Moreover, through a skillful engagement with diversity, we can include a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and histories, for more adaptable, resilient, and powerful movements. practices to move through shame and guilt WHAT WE LEARNED (the following is based on learning material provided by ULEX): The ‘SKILLSET MODEL,’ developed by Leticia Nieto and co-authors, serves as a powerful tool for reflecting on our position within social hierarchies and our actions based on the various privileges we possess or oppression we experience. It offers a detailed account of behavioral patterns that we might adapt, depending on the different rank-position we are holding. The model differentiates patterns and skillsets, depending on whether we are a “target” or an “agent” of oppression in that rank area. It also takes into account how aware we can be of the system(s) of oppression in that rank area, and how willing and resourced we can be in a given moment to engage in dismantling it. SUMMARY of the “AGENT SKILL SET” and “TARGET SKILL SET” a more detailed description of the model can be found here: Skill sets are developed and adopted by each of us as tools for navigating the existing power structures and oppressions in society. Guilt and shame can hinder our progress in acquiring these skill sets, limiting our ability to adapt and interact with society and its ranking systems. However, as we become more aware and learn to embrace discomfort, we can shift our orientation from guilt and shame to remorse. Definitions Privilege: refers to unearned advantages or rights that individuals are born with or acquire during their lifetimes. It is reinforced by both formal and informal institutions within society. Oppression: involves the historical, institutionalized power that allows certain groups to assume dominant positions over others. This dominance is perpetuated at an institutional level and is built around what society deems as “norms.” Guilt: is the feeling experienced when you believe you’ve done something wrong, and you personally feel responsible for your actions. It aligns with collective morality instead of an ethical systemic approach. Shame: is the sense that something is inherently wrong with you, connected to who you are and your sense of self. It reinforces the norms of the dominant culture. Remorse: Remorse is a constructive sense of regret over wrongdoing, affirming one’s internal value systems. The approach endorsed by ULEX’s training and promoted by the Community of Practice at CLab focuses on actively engaging in the deconstruction and transformation of oppression and privilege across multiple levels. This includes personal, interpersonal, socio-cultural, and institutional aspects. It emphasizes the importance of understanding how intersecting power dynamics operate within our groups and developing the necessary skills to transform them in ways that enhance empowerment and encourage fuller participation for all. This approach aims to nurture a culture of care and create spaces for transformation and growth, rather than adopting a self-righteous attitude of ‘canceling’ or undermining others, which can lead to fragmentation and mistrust. The ultimate goal is to empower each other more, not less. There is much more to explore and learn about the cultivation and practice of a Culture of Care. We conclude with a poem by Mara that weaves these themes together, and we eagerly anticipate sharing more in our next blog post! MARA`s POEM_Harvesting our learnings One element The body The essence, the CORE of intersectional organising How we come together listening & being honest Subtleties of inclusion and exclusion Calling IN Rather than calling out (Left OUT: Class issues) Power dynamics intersect Reflecting our own _______ Within a ranking system The role of shame and guilt COMPLICIT with morals and colonial & patriarchal capitalism MOVING Out of punishment Towards accountability A culture of mistakes It’s EASIER for our brains: Guilt affirms morality Shame affirms normativity Remorse affirms internal value systems Being individualised we do EVERYTHING to belong In ORDER to be accepted How do we leave Where ELSE do we wish to go? In a culture of remorse Accountability from a different place Practice(s) to move through: Feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable Power is a vector The DIRECTION defined by prepositions Where do you see your biggest privilege? Generative Somatics & Generation Five Reflect TIME Beyond Empowerment BEYOND Inclusion It starts with: I do not CARE Because actually I don’t know any _______ The State stops at Inclusion We can change the course of things THROUGH awareness Reanalyse power dynamics We can become allies Fully aware of dynamics Not as an ACT of favour. (Our) own liberation by supporting any other marginalised group. It becomes A visceral UNDER_STANDING To add: If we feel stressed for reasons of _______, It is easy for us to fall back The more we feel inner strength The more able we are. Agent and Target We are socially undervalued or overvalued Trying hard to CONFORM My body My time Maybe use this as a tool for reflection.