Radical Action Circle: February 2021
By: Abby Twyman | February 8, 2021
"February's full moon represents the second chapter of the new year. It represents a time to come out of our rest and hibernation. It's a time where our intentions for the year begin to manifest and with it a new season (spring) of change. February is not just a month of love, but also new beginnings for the year."
Our first Radical Action Circle cycle of the year began on 2/13/2021 following the new moon. Our gatherings are aligned with the natural cycle of the moon. This cycle is complete. Check out the updates further down in this post to read about the outcomes of our conversations!
Our mission is to #FuckingListen to stories of oppression and liberation, #BeRadical in our development as accomplices, and #TakeAction in the service of dismantling systems of oppression that meets the quality expectations of established activists and their communities in an efficient way. Are you down to FBT?!? Take on the #AONoMore challenge!
In 2021 we are centering stories from Black and other oppressed communities in the service of developing a more effective process for generating and maintaining Anti-Oppression Activism amongst accomplices.
Our honored guest this month is Camille Morgan of Love, Sex & ABA, and Blvck Womxn Worldwide. She will be interviewed on the first episode of our podcast Tipsy Unicorns in partnership with Beautiful Humans: The Social ChangeCast. Her story and perspective will be centered as we learn and grow together on our path toward collective liberation.
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
“We cannot come together if we do not recognize our differences first. These differences are best articulated when women of color occupy the center of the discourse while white women remain silent, actively listen, and do not try to reinforce supremacy by inserting themselves in the middle of the discussion.”
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
“I am done living in a world where women are lied to about their bodies; where women are objects of sexual desire but not subjects of sexual pleasure; where sex is used as a weapon against women; and where women believe their bodies are broken, simply because those bodies are not male. And I am done living in a world where women are trained from birth to treat their bodies as the enemy.”
Unfu*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop
“Life won’t stop for your pauses and procrastinations. It won’t stop for your confusion or fear. It will continue right along without you. Whether you play an active part or not, the show will go on.”
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
“The opposite of racist isn't 'not racist.' It is 'anti-racist.' What's the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of 'not racist.”
Power by Kanye West
"I just needed time alone, with my own thoughts
Got treasures in my mind but couldn't open up my own vault
My childlike creativity, purity and honesty
Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts
Reality is catchin' up with me
Takin' my inner child, I'm fighting for custody
With these responsibilities that they entrusted me"
New Slaves by Kanye West
"My mama was raised in the era when
Clean water was only served to the fairer skin
Doin' clothes, you woulda thought I had help
But they wasn't satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself"
Gathering #1 - 2/13/2021 (New Moon 2/11) - Setting Intentions
- #FuckingListen - we collectively listened to Cammie's story and perspective and then reflected upon what we heard, first silently and then through talking piece council. We shared our reflections, questions, and committed actions in response to the words we heard from our honored guest and wisdom shared from the edge of the circle. We set our intentions for this cycle. (updated 2/15/2021)
- The Messages We Received From Cammie (added 2/15/2021)
- Her Perspective on Oppression: Throughout her life, she has experienced differential responses related to her intersectional identities (i.e. Black, cis-gendered woman, lesbian, military spouse). She and others from her generation have suffered from the erasure of identity (e.g., older generations promoting the message and behaviors of "colorblindness"). She has often been questioned or second-guessed particularly when she's speaking about issues from the perspective of her various identities.
- Her Perspective of Liberation: She focuses on balancing her time, energy, and resources more equitably across her identities to ensure she's caring for and able to express her whole self in the way she desires to be seen. Her goal is to help others raise their consciousness so they can freely see the world for what it is. She believes that people need to continue to refine their ability to notice racism in all its forms.
- Her Tips for our Crew:
- Fucking Listen!
- Check your motivating operations - why are you doing what you are doing?
- Remember that all behavior makes sense once you understand the context.
- Our Introductions and Our Whys (added 2/15/2021)
- "Grew up in a family with a legacy of racist actions, and felt powerless to change it. Over the decades, I developed a strong sense of self and dedication to this work, to undo the violence I perpetuated through my silence, even when it may be painful for me."
- "I'm here to empower people with the tools and foundation they need to clarify their goals and their situation, get unstuck, and build a world we can all be proud of."
- "Looking to strengthen community. I want health and wellness for all, empathy, and impact. I want to become an ally to communities that are suffering."
- Our Reflections and Questions from this Gathering (added 2/15/2021):
- "Suffering within one’s own life, plus intergenerational trauma, has established a person who is unwilling to allow it to continue for her or her community. I’d like to be an ally in that."
- "I’d like to learn more about intersectionality and differential responses. I’d like to explore how my intersectional identities have been responded to differently."
- "I heard that more people need to use observation mindset, to listen to what's really there instead of the filters we place on what we hear. All of these tips connect to observation. "
- "What do we expect people to learn when they listen?"
- "Refining the ability to recognize and respond to racism. I have several identities, and I’m looking to improve workplace culture and increase the joy of work."
- "What ability does my organization or my team have to respond to racism? What ability do I have?"
- "What are organizations in society doing to refine these abilities to notice racism? Policies and procedures, leadership practices, human resources, et cetera."
- "We need to define the lenses through which we see the world, based on our identities. What lenses or filters do I have, and how can I take those lenses off and remove the filters in order to see things more clearly?"
- "I’ve had trouble figuring out my own identities (professional identities and gender identity are pretty solid). I admire Camille’s work to develop strong senses of identity. Her tips are also excellent: checking motivation before taking action, especially in moments of intense emotion."
- "How am I checking my motivation on a daily basis?"
- "We need to know who we are, what our lenses are, what our motivations and reasons are, what context we’re working in, and how we’re generating and sustaining action over time that aligns with our values that keeps the ball moving forward and affects the trajectory of our world and our progress as humanity."
- Our Radical Action Plan (added 2/15/2021): These are our commitments for the next week in order to prepare for the next part of our conversation. These are small actions, individual steps this week in service of this work. You're encouraged to join us!
- "I’ll download and start reading This Will Be My Undoing and Come As You Are."
- "I’ll journal my identities and filters."
- "I’ll brainstorm and research how we could create a guiding document tool for ensuring the social validity of ideas and plans."
- "I will research different cultural contexts in order to better understand how to lower the barriers between them, to allow people to listen and demonstrate respect more effectively."
- "I’ll do some literature searching on racism related to the workplace: organizations, anti-racism, policies, and practices."
Gathering #2 - 2/20/2021 (First Quarter Moon 2/19) - Exploring Possibilities
- #BeRadical - we collectively considered actions we could take at the Me, We, and Us systems levels through silent reflection and talking piece council. We shared our perspectives in response to the words we heard from our honored guest and wisdom shared from the edge of the circle while exploring possibilities for this cycle. We refined our intentions for this cycle.
- Our Introductions and Our Whys (added 2/22/2021)
- "Growing up, I was conditioned to not speak up for fear of punishment, and that hurt my mental health. I’m working to unlearn those habits and learn skills to help me be fully in alignment with the person I want to be. I want to help others learn those skills as well, to free themselves, and act to end oppressive systems."
- "I'm here to empower people with the tools and foundation they need to clarify their goals and their situation, get unstuck, and build a world we can all be proud of. "
- "Health and wellness for all, empathy, impact. I want to be an accomplice to dismantling oppression for communities suffering from it. I want to be a part of the solution."
- "I would like to show up for social justice issues and take committed action in the direction of those values. I saw this group as a way to possibly demonstrate my action in that direction, and become a person who helps with solutions for those. I have a lot of tools and privilege and I want to make those available to groups who can use them to amplify their voices and center their stories. I’ve been able to help center voices for racial justice and neurodiversity, and offer support in other forums."
- Our Reflections and Questions from this Gathering (added 2/22/2021)
- "I’ve begun to read the books that Cammie recommended. The systems we live in shape our experiences. It’s like an Adverse Childhood Experience score. We’ve all experienced and witnessed oppression of some kind, to some degree. Instead of constructive conversation, conversations often turn into “struggle olympics” (phrase frequently used by Cammie) where people compete on how oppressed they are instead of working to solve oppression in general."
- "I did some research on different contexts. This isn’t an original thought of mine, but it seems that at the core of all of these, it means not being able to avoid issues, the problems society creates. One doesn't get the choice to stay out of things or ignore them. That will influence how people see and respond to things. "
- "Part of what it means to be an oppressed group, even if there’s no longer legalized oppression, means in order to get things done one must navigate contexts that are inhospitable. People in the majority may make inaccurate assumptions, or fail to make good general assumptions, or just be unable to communicate as smoothly for the context of the community a minority person is from, the way they could with the majority community."
- "Cammie brought up a question about what ability I and my organization have to respond to racism, including in the moment. It’s important to understand the history and what I personally am doing and what my organization is doing to work around that. One of my action items was to do a literature search on anti-racism, policies and procedures. There’s an article I’ll read next."
- "There was a case where a health practitioner wanted guidance and best practices regarding the case, so as our group was watching the recording of the case, we noticed several instances of ableism. I was impressed that someone brought it up in a neutral and informative way. They discussed how we can recognize and respond to these issues in the moment."
- "There was a book on black women pursuing PhDs, and if I pursue one I’d want to learn more about the different experiences of other people, about the barriers people face, and make sure I’m not contributing to those barriers. I’d like to make sure I have that awareness so I can react if I find myself in that situation. I’m involved on the ableism front online."
- "A self-advocate moved a criticism they posted from a larger group to a smaller group, and I acted to try and amplify their voice to make it heard in the “safe space” of the larger group. I work to help people understand why experiences are valid."
- "As part of becoming a provider, I’ll ask how people would like me to amplify their voices and make other people aware of their experiences."
- Our Radical Action Plan (added 2/22/2021): These are ideas we are exploring for actions we can take on the Me, We, and Us systems levels. Join us next week to expand on these ideas!
- See/Say and See/Write Responses to Racist/Oppressive Behaviors
- Training Exercises to Fluently Identify Racist/Oppressive Behaviors
- ACT Workbook for Developing Anti-Oppressive Thoughts/Words/Actions
- Actively Seek Feedback from Communities We Serve to Ensure Alignment
- Use Privilege as ACE Provider to Provide Platform for Communities
- Translating Stories of Oppressive Contexts and Experiences
- Use Translations to Help People Gain Deeper Understanding of Issues
- Connect Deeper Understanding to Meaningful and Helpful Actions
- Ensure Social Validity of Actions by Seeking Feedback from Communities
- Explore Ways to Get More People Actively Involved in Committed Action
- Find Ways to Amplify Anti-Oppressive Action Within Your Current Work
- Read and Listen to Stories of Oppression and Share With Your Network
Gathering #3 - 2/27/2021 (Full Moon 2/27) - Making Decisions
- #BeRadical - we collectively made decisions about actions to take at the Me, We, and Us systems levels through talking piece and conversation council. We shared our perspectives regarding the next right actions for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We sealed our intentions.
- Our Reflections and Questions from this Gathering (added 3/1/2021)
- "Cultural humility came up; sit with our feelings, and understand where they come from and that we don’t have all the answers. We should always be listening for understanding and connecting on a deeper level. Cammie’s push to help people think is an important lesson that I want to remember forward: We don’t have to force our thoughts or perspectives on others, but we can use questioning to help people think for themselves. "
- "“Check your privilege” can sometimes be similar to “be calm” or “be happy”; people don’t necessarily do it just because they’re told. There’s an art to asking questions as Cammie does to lead people to reevaluate their assumptions. Finding those key questions and lowering barriers to entry will make social justice movements faster and more effective."
- "Cultural humility stood out to me. Something she brought up regarding her legacy of ancestors who have survived racism made me realize it’s a big part of cultural humility. My education lacked cultural humility."
- "I appreciated hearing Cammie’s and Morgan’s voices. One of my classes had “packing the invisible knapsack”: It’s a good way to visualize privilege. I heard Cammie’s patience and exhaustion with having to do that every time, interacting with people who are only now seeing something that’s always been there. I am asking myself how I can take action to support people who are asked that question over and over, and what I can do to relieve some of that burden."
- Our Radical Action Plan (added 3/1/2021): These are ideas we are exploring for actions we can take on the Me, We, and Us systems levels. Join us next week as we finalize ideas for action!
- "I’ve been challenged with not letting the fear take hold in the moment when something could be said, without hesitation. Could I become more fluent in saying what needs to be said in the moment, even in the presence of fear?"
- "Could I use connection to be there for more situations where people will benefit from framing situations and questions?"
- "Could I research and write a short post a week to take a dividing issue and create a uniting framework for cooperation?"
- "Could I become more culturally humble, identify more culturally humble practices and development?"
- "Could we put together a group of people to develop an ACT workbook for dismantling oppressive systems?"
- "Could we change how people talk about problems to emphasize connections and commonalities and mutual benefit?"
- "A nonprofit organization I volunteer with has the opportunity to develop professional development educational activities and products. Could we use our platform to do professional development in culturally relevant ways?"
- "Regarding the education system, could someone create an easily accessible, available, and usable training program for educators and families and students to learn the communication skills and cultural humility, that is comprehensive and not just a one-off."
- "Institutions that claim to be meritocratic, like democracy and capitalism, pride themselves on conflicting forces that only pull in their own directions with their own agendas, but those can tear them apart. Could someone create institutions to resolve conflicts among the groups that lend those institutions power, using cultural literacy?"
- "Could someone in each state (possibly at the government level since they make the rules) produce shared values around cultural humility?"
- "Could each government have cultural humility as a goal of action?"
- "New Mexico has a culture/diversity group that is supposed to take action. Could we influence the people in power in every state to embrace and adapt this idea of figuring out what cultural humility looks like and taking some action?"
- "Many institutions didn’t previously have diversity, equity, and inclusion task forces (or had idle task forces). Could we provide resources to those groups that assist with aligning our efforts?"
- "Could we provide tools that help groups within organizations ensure that what they’re doing is socially valid and transformative and not just performative? Frame conversations and evaluate impact."
- "Somebody needs a robust evaluation process and other micro- and macrosystems to get the information that they need."
- "Building on that, having institutions look for what they don’t know is there. Giving observation mindset to the institutions themselves."
- "Also, helping people connect to suffering in a way that activates them rather than deactivates them. If people feel they can’t do anything about suffering, they may try to ignore those who suffer or even try to blame them. We need to dissolve that narrative and replace it with a constructive one."
- "We’ll need to deal with defensiveness using connection, empathy, and empowerment. We can present information in ways that uplift, inspire, and empower."
- "We’ll look for groups and opportunities to empower to expand our impact."
- "Gifts of generative gratitude"
Gathering #4 - 3/6/2021 (Third Quarter Moon 3/5) - Taking Action
- #TakeAction - we shared with the circle the committed actions we are taking or plan to take and accepted feedback. We surrendered our intentions to the universe, committed to continued engagement in Anti-Oppressive Action, and expressed our gratitude.
- Our Radical Action Plan (added 3/9/2021):
- Honestly explore our lenses and filters
- Accelerate development of effective accomplices
- Activate transformation through shared empowerment exercises
- Proactively guide history by facilitating connections
March Radical Action Circle Cycle
Invitation - please join us for this next We will listen to the perspective of our next honored guest (TBA), celebrate the strengths in what we're doing to create change already, and consider what we can do next to take radical action at each level: me (individual), we (group), and us (society) utilizing the Appreciative Inquiry Process.
Register for Radical Action Circles - Join us Saturdays at 10:00AM Alaska (11:00PST/2:00EST)
Gifts of Generative Gratitude
Support Love, Sex, ABA - Express your gratitude for Cammie by becoming a Patreon!
Support Blvck Womxn Worldwide - Express your gratitude for Cammie by contributing resources!
Support Beautiful Humans Social ChangeCast - Express your gratitude for Denisha and Arin by listening to their podcast and becoming a Patreon!
Support Black Applied Behavior Analysts - Express your gratitude for all the Black Applied Behavior Analysts who are working every day to dismantle systems of oppression in our world!