We hope to launch the Power Beyond Privilege programme this Summer 2014.
The aim is to hold a series of workshops on a quarterly basis (every three months). Prior to the workshops, we will have the opportunity to explore the chosen theme more deeply with each workshop being interspersed with occasional reading group meetings, visits to exhibitions, film viewings, take-home experiments, or participation in solidarity activities with groups working on campaigns, trainings and actions in line with the Programme.
We hope that the first workshop will be held in September 2014 with a day-long session on Power and Privilege generally, which Seeds for Change have kindly agreed to facilitate for us. We hope to work closely with organisations such as Seeds for Change, London Roots Collective, Platform-London and others that have done this kind of work for some-time. We want to take on the role of organisers – bringing together activists interested in the Programme and transformation (rather than being the trainers) – as we are seeking to learn much from the Programme ourselves.
We hope that we are able to complete eight workshops over a period of two years – and grow together – as we explore deeply personal – and deeply political – themes centred around an attempt to transform ourselves as part of the revolutionary process of agitating and fighting for new institutions which do not replicate exploitative, oppressive, hierarchical social relationships. How can we overturn forms of oppression that inevitably arise in our very own organising circles, in our friend groups and in our social relationships? What are the available methods of overcoming internalised oppression and its manifestations within our organisation through internal group work?
Are you active in London and exploring answers to these questions? If so, please Contact Us. It would be great if everyone who gets involved is reasonably committed to this Programme – seeing it as a longer term commitment towards building a collective group of individuals who support each other in this learning process – rather than it being a casual one-off activity.
The idea for this came about as we – Sofa, Preeti and Nana – discussed how we would like to develop our own understanding of how systems of oppression are inter woven, and are able to recreate, reinforce and defend one another and our interest in building upon our own understanding together with others interested in pre-figuring new social relationships and taking this learning into our organising and agitating for change in London.
Further information about Why we thought this Programme was important is available here:
At a time when austerity measures are imposing huge hardship on families and individuals, and environmental degradation threatens to end the world as we know it, it can become easy to justify prioritising engagement in anti-capitalist actions. But, what type of world would anti-capitalist movements create if they were not cognisant of other forms of oppression – which capitalism exploits but which also exist independently of it? Would this new world repeat – forms of sexism, racism, hetro-patriarchy, ableism, and political power that are prevalent in society today? I think so. I think it is just as necessary to understand power and privilege as it is to advocate and agitate for a future anti-capitalist society in which real democracy is exercised. I think we need to understand better how oppressive social relations form us, and how we reproduce them through our own conduct – prefiguring new kinds of social relationships now – to the extent we are able. Because, I think, this is necessary if we are committed to building a better world for ourselves and each other – but also because it would make our movements now – more accessible, sensitive, participatory, intentional and fun! I would like to be part of movements and groups that create spaces which improve the lives of its participants – rather than puts up barriers to engagement. I am keen to develop my own understanding, working with others to create a safe space to explore power and privilege. To learn how I can improve and help foster and be part of movements that encourage, are open, reflective, fun and accessible to all. For me, this initial workshop – and hopefully continuing workshops – might be steps forward in exploring how we might work together to put these ideas into practice in our movements, advocacy and agitation for a society free of all forms of oppression.
I feel that most people in society, many activists included, seem to think of oppression as a problem that the oppressed have, and that it’s therefore is up to the oppressed to do something about it. For example, gender equality is usually seen as a women’s issue, racism as an issue for people of colour, etc. But actually, oppression is central to how our social power structures work: we ALL need to understand how patriarchy and racism etc work, and we are ALL taking part in these power structures, especially privileged people. For anybody who wants to work for a more egalitarian society it is therefore imperative to understand more about how power and privilege work, and how power and privilege play out in our everyday lives.
Another reason why I think these workshops should exist is because I strongly believe in prefigurativism as a strategy for social change (a kay strategy among others), and in order to prefigure egalitarian organising activists need to know about how privilege and power play out in practice.