An idea I shared with my network upon listening to organizers center the real work of so-called allies is in our own families and communities – spaces people with more vulnerable identities may not have access to >> Oppression comes with privilege so as allies we need to dismantle oppression by acknowledging and leveraging our privileges. After deliberating for years how to engage my privileges and encourage others to engage theirs, one idea that came to me (and it’s not unique but feels important) is to be more public vocal and therefore vulnerable with the process of assessing privileges and engaging our circles of privileges, so people can see others doing this work and getting ideas or feedback for doing it too. I know it is working because since I began writing reflections a few months back, a handful of people have written in or told me they appreciate the effort and looking into engaging the work themselves.
So here’s the idea to assist those of us confronting our privileges frame our battles in spaces we have access to. This work in our personal circles is perhaps the toughest because we have to be our best selves caring creative firm and persistent. I’m calling it Five for Five.
Way it works >>> I encourage gathering a group of 4-5 comrades to help you with this. It’s not gonna be easy.
In the coming month think about five problematic people in your life who share with you the privileges that make them problematic but somehow listen (or react) to you, and without lecturing them, understand if you can engage them in assessing how they might be problematic. And possibly with solutions they can look into. Think back to the paths that helped you begin to come to terms. And know there’s no point in getting frustrated. nothing will happen if they are not willing to acknowledge there is work to be done. (The term problematic is problematic so I’m thinking of a more specific term)
(Epiphany! I have been called in for being problematic by some very compassionate people. Honestly I’m grateful because all the reading and listening sometimes doesn’t get through to me quite like this. I’m grateful that some people holding multiple vulnerable identities reach out to so/called allies. Even when they don’t have to.)
Also this month think of five people holding up community that you cheer for whom you may not be acquainted with, and, resisting entitled behavior to friendship, figure out how you may support them (organizers are pretty vocal. Hint: do what they are asking, because what they are asking is likely in line with what the community is asking).
Finally select five organizations that work deeply in community whose messages you will amplify on social media and maybe even through volunteership
Times are tough. We need to keep our ears to the ground to listen for what our communities need and do precisely that work in our communities.
My five problematic spaces have been my family, the caste-Bengali community at home, the caste-D South Asian community here in Boston, dominant-Hindu institutions of South Asian identity … and myself. There are five people in the midst of these spaces that I have identified and working with.
My community crushes? So many!! I’m trying to do right by their organizing and have donated time and super humble funds towards their organizing efforts.
There’s a great list of local organizations being passed around on social media now and then. I’ll dig it up and post here. As I am amplifying some personal messaging I’m getting the hang of how I might incorporate amplifying community messaging. Finding a balance between doing ground work and media work efficiently is always a challenge. Will share best practices soon.
Thoughts welcome welcome ???
Small long-term intimate dances with the people closest to you make the biggest impact
Photo and feet painting by the inimitable Axomiya Suwali Ankana