On August 14, 2017, Jobs with Justice facilitated a gathering at Bell Street Chapel of multiple organizations and groups from across Rhode Island in response to the tragedy in Charlottesville. We joined together as a community and pledged to stand with each other in solidarity in opposition to fascism, white supremacy, and other forms of oppression using the lens of an intersectional feminist praxis. (For more information on intersectionality, click here to read the Wikipedia article and click here to read the original article that forms the basis of this important praxis)
As part of this pledge we promised to create within our own organizations efforts that will implement these initiatives both amongst our members and in our surrounding communities. This means that we promise to create an effort that will challenge oppressive structures and attitudes in our individual members, in the bylaws that govern our operations, and in the communities we work within up to and including the abolition of the police and prison-industrial complex. In no way is there any place for agencies which have facilitated the rise of this fascist menace in our communities.
So how do we do this?
We can start by by creating what is called an affinity group. It is a group formed around a shared interest or common goal to which individuals formally or informally belong. Some affinity groups are organized in a non-hierarchical manner, often using consensus decision making, and are frequently made up of trusted friends. They provide a method of organization that is flexible and decentralized. Other affinity groups may have a hierarchy to provide management of the group’s long-term interests, or if the group is large enough to require the delegation of responsibilities to other members or staff. Affinity groups may have either open or closed membership, although the latter is far more common. Some charge membership dues or expect members to share the cost of the group’s expenses. (Click here to read more about creating an affinity group)
Once you have created an affinity group, begin to create an internal education curriculum module that make sure every member understands intersectional feminism. From there you will want to begin developing an understanding of this history of race and racism as well as Critical Race Theory, the academic discipline that is focused upon the application of critical theory, a critical examination of society and culture, to the intersection of race, law, and power. This is a large topic that can take multiple meetings. (Click here to read Richard Moser’s useful introductory text on white skin privilege, the culminating benefit of racism.)
After your affinity group understands this material, look into creating either a standing committee or caucus within your organization dedicated to internal implementation. Once formalized this body should focus energy and resources on educating the community you occupy about opposing white supremacy, racism, fascism, and oppression of all types.