Commitment to Anti-Oppression

350 Connecticut is committed to confronting oppression on both the institutional and interpersonal levels because we are committed to seeking systemic change. This means that as an organization we will make every reasonable attempt to be as inclusive and accessible as possible. Realizing that oppression is innately uncomfortable as a topic and can be debilitating when it is experienced, we vow to accept the discomfort and to try to address oppression before it can be manifested, and to seek out ways of addressing oppression in proactive rather than reactive ways. We will educate ourselves on the causes and effects of, as well as the language of oppression, in order to recognize it and dismantle it. We will strive to create an organizational culture that allows us to hold each other accountable for oppressive behavior and words without placing blame or accepting guilt. We pledge to focus on issues of oppression brought forward by members of traditionally oppressed or marginalized groups. Anti-oppression requires a lifelong commitment, as such, we will incorporate anti-oppression into all of our activities, and resolve to regular reviews of this commitment.

Specifically, we commit to the following principles* of anti-oppression and expect all of our members to do the same:

1. Power and privilege can play out in our group dynamics in destructive ways. We must challenge supremacist practices which marginalize, exclude or de-humanize others. Privilege, like power, can be used for positive purposes but should be used with awareness and care.

2. We can only identify how power and privilege play out when we are conscious and committed to understanding how white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, heterosexism and all other systems of oppression affect each one of us. Each person who enjoys privileges granted by systems of prejudicial power (no matter how radical or revolutionary) must recognize the benefits and costs of their privileges. We must take responsibility for our prejudices and actions which perpetuate oppression.

3. Until we are clearly committed to anti-oppression practice, all forms of oppression will continue to divide our movements and weaken our power.

4. Developing anti-oppression practices is life-long work and requires a life-long commitment. No single workshop is sufficient for learning to change one’s behaviors. We are all vulnerable to being oppressive and we need to continuously struggle with these issues and behaviors.

5. Dialogue and discussion are necessary and we need to learn how to listen non-defensively and communicate respectfully if we are going to have effective anti-oppression practice.

*These principles were written by Lisa Fithian based on the “Anti-Racism Principles and Practices” by RiseUp DAN-LA, Overcoming Masculine Oppression by Bill Moyers and the FEMMAFESTO by a women’s affinity group in Philadelphia.

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