navigating social justice oriented spaces 

in anticipation for the launch of hearts of healers i wanted to write a bit about how i, personally, navigate social justice oriented spaces. i know this can be daunting for folks who are just beginning to enter these spaces – it certainly was for me. i was afraid of saying the wrong thing or often just avoided going altogether because i didn’t want to seem ignorant but that is definitely not the move! many of us live on the intersection of many oppressions and being in these spaces can help us articulate why said systems are oppressive while also understanding how we may be complicit to the oppression of others. it’s daunting, i know, but i hope that some of my tips below will help empower you to lean into the discomfort and show up to do the work.

remember, none of us are free until all of us are free.

  • if i’m part of the privileged group (ex: being a cisgender person and trans & rights of gender nonconforming folks are raised) i, especially at first, simply listen. i try to set my ego aside and recognize that i have a lot to learn.
  • i recognize that usually the oppressed group ends up doing a lot of the emotional and intellectual labor and that this must be incredibly exhausting. i try to recall the moments it was on me to educate folks and how exhausted i was at the end of it all. i try to hold onto that empathy when i have the urge to tone police and resist doing so.
  • if i’m feeling uncomfortable, i try to grapple with why exactly that is. is it because i feel disrespected? or rather because i’m being challenged and forced to grapple with the face that i, too, hold problematic views?
  • if i have a question, i first try to google so as not to add to the labor folks are already doing
  • when i’m part of the oppressed group (ex: conversations on WOC, islam and the bigotry surrounding it, etc.) i try to share the labor of educating. i do my best to be kind about calling in/out and try to encourage folks to do the same but also recognize that it is not easy to always be polite when i’m explaining why i deserve respect, safety and sometimes to simply exist.

of course, no one has to agree/follow this. simply sharing what works for me at the moment in case others are looking for some guidance. i’m sure this will continue to change throughout my life cause this learning is lifelong!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
[image description: dr. angela davis speaking at first corinthian baptist church in harlem, new york city]

how do you navigate being in social justice oriented spaces – both in person and online? what has worked for you? what hasn’t?

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