I have tried to edit the notes as little as possible and just made sure similar topics were grouped together and not mentioned more than once.
The notes have been written up in a problem then possible solutions format, in the style of how we undertook the workshop.
During discussions of white privilege, discussions often divert to white people talking about ways they are oppressed.
• Have separate discussion spaces for other forms of oppression. Keep the discussion on topic and it is up to the facilitator (and ourselves) to make sure discussions stay relevant.
Excluding migrants because gatherings are risky/ time consuming and (sometimes) illegal.
Constantly planning actions without permits from the state/ police means than people with precarious legal status cannot be involved.
• Have a range of levels that people can be involved at –don’t glamourise action-based roles and recognize the importance of support roles (e.g. Childcare, ‘reconnaissance’, transport, legal support).
• Marches with permits and stewards, gatherings in rented spaces.
Experiences of confrontation with the police e.g. Shoplifting, fare dodging.
• Don’t assume that everyone will face the same consequences from the actions.
• Solidarity and sharing of possible repercussions from challenging police racism.
Assuming that homophobic attacks come from people with migration backgrounds
• Recognise that white culture is also homophobic. Don’t define people by their race or religion in terms of homophobia.
Stop buying into ideas that the ‘west’ is a good place for queers and the ‘middle east’ is a bad.
• Why not get in contact with queers across the divide? They do exist! Initiate rapports with people and self educate too.
• Don’t adopt ‘holier than thou’ attitudes. Don’t assume that other nations are more oppressive than your own.
Making assumptions about a person’s background and lifestyle.
• E.g. don’t just assume that someone with a Zimbabwean accent must have experiences poverty. Also it cannot be assumed that a person with an accent wants to be immediately asked where they are from and what it is like there.
• Examine your own background and realise that everyone’s experience is different. There are many ways to combat one thing (I.e. oppression, racism).
• Expectations should not be lowered depending on a person’s background either –e.g. claims that Eastern Europe and Eastern countries are ‘macho societies’ so they are less capable of analysing oppressive behaviour.
• Educate yourself –there’s plenty of information out there.
Events scheduled on religious/ cultural holidays
• Check international/ cultural/ religious dates, add them to diaries and aim to not schedule events on holidays and days of rest for example.
The ‘scene’ concept
• Whose ‘scene’ is it? What are the norms? Work to challenge them and get out of your comfy ‘scene’ bubble –take your activism to other places that need it.
Vegan food being the ‘norm’
• Offer alternatives –multiple dishes served at events or make it explicitly clear that people are welcome to bring their own food.
• It should not be assumed that one person represents ‘all’ of a particular ethnic group. Appreciate that we are all individuals, with different experiences. Challenge the behaviour of those that make generalizations/ assumptions.
• The term ‘people of colour’ itself is problematic, be aware that not everyone is comfortable with the term.
• Don’t assume that its up to a ‘person of colour’ to help you with your racism. It is up to you to educate yourself.
Drawing attention to the fact that a group is predominantly white.
• It invisibles the ‘people of colour’ who are there, acknowledge instead of ignoring.
Advertising/ promotional materials do not represent diversity so aren’t welcoming and inclusive.
• Be explicitly open on advertising materials e.g. ‘Anti racist/ Anti fascist –ALL welcome.’
• Put promotional materials in a more diverse range of spaces, don’t just advertise in spaces where you know people will be interested in your event.
• Look at the focus of existing radical/ queer/ women’s/ anarchist resources. Is it white centric?
• The creation of a structured radical history reading list or group. One that includes post colonial literature and World history rather than European history and aims to link history with present society/ social policy.
Race and/or privilege is always a small part of the agenda and is rarely taken seriously e.g. scheduled against popular workshops
• Be aware of what workshops are happening at the same time, race/privilege workshops could have solo slots and or/ be early on in the day when most people are likely to be around.
• Challenging racism shouldn’t just be saved for one workshop during a three-day event (for example) but should instead become an integral part of our lives, inside and outside of queer events.
• Don’t laugh?!
• Anticipate where the joke is going and intervene
• Acknowledge if it is discomfort that is making you laugh
• Intervene later and talk to the person/s involved, if you didn’t manage it at the time.
• Claiming ‘it’s just a joke’ doesn’t make it less racist so call people out on it.
• Don’t wait for ‘people of colour’ to challenge racism. Take responsibility and don’t be afraid to have critical conversations with friends who say something racist / ‘unthinking’.
Event details e.g. ‘Ladyfest’s’ where the workshops are similar and generally geared towards a specific audience, locations, and music style.
• Contact local community groups, network and find out about bands that may exist outside of your ‘scene;
• Find out what people want from events e.g. questionnaires, people may have workshop/ discussion suggestions but may be too shy to facilitate them.
Above all we should aim to create a culture where feedback and critical dialogue is integral, challenging behaviours rather than the individual.
‘If you have come to help me you’re wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.’
Lilla Watson, Aboriginal educator and activist.
These notes were written up by ze. –email@example.com