Anti-Oppression Training-OCtober 26 2014, Lukayo Estrella

October 26th, 2014
Lukayo Estrella
Workshop Agenda
Acknowledgement & Introductions (15 min)
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation (20 min)
The Taking Tree Story
Break Out Group #1 (60 min)
Violence, Exclusion, Internalization & Privilege
Liberation (5 min)
Break Out Group #2 (60 min)
Debrief & Thank You (15 min)
This Powerpoint can be emailed to you if needed.
Thanking those who came before:
- my Ancestors & Spirits
- those who have done this work (Harsha Walia,
Andrea Smith, Steve Klabnik, my friend Reem)
Thanking those who continue to do this work
Thanking the land
Thanking the people of this land, the Algonquin
Apologizing that this presentation is only in English
1) Name
2) Your Preferred Pronoun
(The pronoun others should use when they’re
referring to you in conversation, such as “she, he,
they, ze, etc”)
3) What Do You Hope To Learn
A Note On Triggers:
You may have different ways you process, learn, communicate, or socially
interact with others. You may have survived trauma, abuse, the
psychiatric system, bullying, discrimination, and oppression. You may also
have “triggers”, i.e. things that are said which remind you of traumatic
experiences or current concerns that could initiate a panic attack,
emotional shut down, or rage. Since we are talking about oppression, this
presentation could be triggering to you for any of the above reasons. It is
my sincere hope that you have a support network and a care plan if you
are triggered by this presentation. If you need to leave the presentation,
please indicate that to the organizers and perhaps other
accommodations can be made.
How I’m Situated In This Conversation
- [email protected] (Bicolano/Bicolana)
- settler of colour
- asog / tomboy
- physically grandiose
- makata / daitan
Western Cultural Terms
(Sometimes I identify with, sometimes I just accept as the only term available):
- Asian / Pacific Islander / Filipino
- Canadian Citizen & immigrant with immigrant parents
- transgender / transmasculine / transsexual / genderqueer / pansexual
- fat, able-bodied
- Bachelors in Humanities
- philosopher / spirit worker / poet / writer / educator / community organizer
- volunteer for PTS (Centre for the Queer Community in Ottawa), No One Is Illegal,
Philippine Migrants Society of Canada, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
- worker at Jer’s Vision
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation
Our bodies come in many shapes, colours, sizes, genders,
sexes, expressions, abilities, and styles
Our minds and emotions process and express themselves
in a variety of ways
Our relationships, families, and ways of loving are expressed,
built, and sustained in a variety of ways
We are a diverse species
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation
(where one aspect of a person is superior
and people who have the rest are inferior)
Violent Action On Many Levels
(institutionally/systemically, culturally & individually)
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation
Another way to see it
is when the diversity of human beings
becomes replaced by a supremacy
through the strategies of physical violence,
isolation, and internalization,
then that creates oppression.
4 Main Levels of Oppression:
1) historical
2) institutional/systemic
3) cultural
4) individual
Diversity, Oppression & Liberation
Abolishing oppression systemically, culturally, and
individually through empowerment, healing justice,
education, building alliances, changing policies, and
re-incorporating diversity is
This is important ground work and a framework for unions,
organizations, and collectives to work from in regards to inclusive
organizing, diverse membership, and equitable practices.
The Taking Tree
Born from the Seed of Empire
Grown with dreams of Greed, Power, Gold & Blood
(Imperialism is a system of domination and subordination
with an imperial center and periphery. Definition
paraphrased from scholar Edward Said. In this example, we
are talking about European Imperialism that colonized most
of the world in the last 500 years.)
The Taking Tree
The Roots of the Tree are alive and hungry,
and they feed by taking power.
They operate on an Oppressive Logic:
( Group A > Group B so Group B must be
The Taking Tree
Some of the roots have names:
Racism / White Supremacy
The Taking Tree
Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics:
Racism / White Supremacy
- Anti-Blackness
- Settler Colonialism
- Orientalism
- Border Imperialism
- Cissexism / transphobia
- Sexism / patriarchy
- Heterosexism / homophobia / biphobia
- Eugenics Model
- Medical Model
- Charity Model
The Taking Tree
Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics:
Racism / White Supremacy
(Non-Black People > Black People  Black People must be turned into property)
Settler Colonialism
(Settler> Native Native People must have their land taken)
(Citizen> Foreigner Foreigners must be fought and conquered)
Border Imperialism
(Citizen> Migrant/Undocumented Undocumented People/Migrants must be
turned into property and/or be fought and conquered)
The Taking Tree
Racism / White Supremacy
Put in another way, what we commonly know as racism or white supremacy are
social norms and policies enforced by violence, isolation, and internalization on
systemic, cultural, and individual levels so as to ensure the best or largest
quantity of resources goes to those coded as “White”.
These resources are the following:
- land
- labour
- war
The Taking Tree
Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics:
Cissexism / Transphobia
(Non-Trans/Cis> Trans Trans People must be erased)
Sexism / Patriarchy
(Men/Masculine> Women/Feminine Women/Feminine People must be made into
Heterosexism / Homophobia / Biphobia
(Straight> Queer Queer People must be erased)
(Non-Transfeminine People > Transfeminine People  Transfeminine people must be made
into property or erased)
The Taking Tree
Put in another way, (cis)heteropatriarchy are Western white social norms
enforced by violence, isolation, and internalization on systemic, cultural,
and individual levels.
These norms encompass:
- sex assignment
- gender identity
- gender expression
- sexual orientation
- relationship agreements and family structures
The Taking Tree
Some of the roots branch off into smaller roots with specific logics:
Eugenics Model
(Normal>Deviant Deviants must be erased)
Medical Model
(Normal>Broken  Broken people must be fixed)
Charity Model
(Normal>Incompetent  Incompetent people are cared for as property)
The Taking Tree
Can you name other violent action-based
supremacies that are the Roots of the Taking Tree?
The Taking Tree
From the Roots of the Taking Tree grow the Trunk.
The Trunk is made of Institutions.
The Taking Tree
What are Institutions?
They are social structures/mechanisms that govern behaviour and
exist beyond individuals who may have founded the institution.
They generally have the following of their own:
- spaces
- language/terminology
- policies
Can you name some Institutions?
The Taking Tree
Examples of Institutions
Law and legal system
Military or paramilitary forces
Police forces
Mass media
Civil society or NGOs
The Taking Tree
From the Trunk of the Taking Tree grow branches
that eventually bear Fruit. This Fruit is the product
of all the Institutions that make up the Trunk.
Different individuals have different experiences with
the Fruit of the Taking Tree.
The Taking Tree
Questions to Consider:
1) Can folks see the Roots of the Taking Tree?
2) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree
and are on the “right side” of the Roots’ supremacies?
3) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree
and are on the “wrong side” of the Roots’ supremacies?
The Taking Tree
1) Can folks see the Roots of the Taking Tree?
No. The Roots are underground. Folks only interface with the
Trunk/Institutions and the Fruit.
2) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree and are on
the “right side” of the Roots’ supremacies?
Privilege. The “American” Dream. Benefits. Advantages. The Good Life.
3) What happens to folks who eat the Fruit of the Taking Tree and are on
the “wrong side” of the Roots’ supremacies?
Impacted by the 3 Strategies of Oppressive Violence:
- Physical Violence
- Exclusionary/Lack of Access
- Internalization/Self-Hatred
The Taking Tree
Put in another way…
Those who enforce supremacies are oppressors.
Those who gain from supremacies are privileged.
Those who suffer violence, isolation, and internalization
because of their diverse way of being are oppressed.
It’s possible to be all three or sometimes a combo of two depending on
The Taking Tree
All the Roots merge together underground and within the
Trunk because Oppression is intersectional.
This can mean that individuals or groups can be oppressed
by multiple supremacies, but it also means that
oppressions are interconnected.
The Roots are also constantly hungry to consume other
Trees (Cultures & Civilizations). This movement of
consuming is called Colonization and Capitalism.
The Taking Tree
What is Colonization?
Migration (Human) - The physical movement of humans from one area to another.
Colonization (Human) - The migration of humans to areas that are under some form of
colonialism, such as settler colonies, trading posts, and plantations.
Colonialism - When one group of people establish, exploit, maintain, acquire, and/or
expand colonies into another group’s territory and then rule that group (usually an
indigenous population) overtly and/or set up unequal relationships between
colonizers/colonialists and the indigenous population.
Settler Colonialism – A specific form of colonialism where settlers consent to immigrating to
a region and populate (also known as “foreign family units”). This usually leads to the
depopulation of the original inhabitants and the settlers taking over the now “vacant” land.
The Taking Tree
What is Capitalism?
This is a relatively new (about 200 years old) economic system based on
three things:
1) wage labour (working for a wage)
2) private ownership of the means of production
3) production for exchange and profit
The Taking Tree
What is Capitalism?
Capitalism is directly related to class struggle and classism. It creates its own
Roots within the Taking Tree with the following kinds of classist oppression:
Owners/Capitalists>Workers  Workers must be exploited for their labour
This is based on the wage/profit binary.
Capitalists desire the most profit, which means the smallest wages possible.
Workers desire the highest wages, which means smaller profits for Capitalists.
This ongoing battle has been called “the class struggle”.
The Taking Tree
Breakout Group
We will now break out into groups of 3-4. In each of these groups, you
will be making a group agreement and having discussion questions.
The point of this exercise is to examine the Taking Tree in your own life
and collectives/organizations. If your group really wants to talk about
solutions, hold off, as we will be doing a follow up exercise about how we
can dismantle the Taking Tree in our own lives and
Once the group is done talking, everyone meets back together to discuss
what they’ve learned from the exercise.
The Taking Tree
Break Out Group
Oppression uses 3 strategies
(physical violence,
on 3 levels
The next slide will go through some non-graphic examples. Warning: They are very
triggering, so if you need to leave the room or get support, it’s okay.
The Taking Tree
Break Out Group
Examples of Physical Violence (TRIGGER WARNING!)
Institutional: anti-Black racist police brutality
Cultural: homophobic bashing by Neo-Nazi group
Individual: transmisogyny-motivated murder
Examples of Exclusion (TRIGGER WARNING!)
Institutional: lack of federal legislative protection for trans people
Cultural: TWERF/SWERF (“radical feminists” against trans women & sex workers)
Individual: non-disabled friend not inviting wheelchair-using friend to hang out
because “the wheelchair’s too much of a hassle”
Examples of Internalization (TRIGGER WARNING!)
Institutional: The Indian Act (how it changes a Native person’s self-perception)
Cultural: the “success” of whitening cream among Filipina & Indian women
Individual: a woman’s clothing choices being motivated out of fear of fatshaming and/or sex-shaming
Examples of Privilege (TRIGGER WARNING!)
Institutional: having the “right” to own land and settle/stay as a “citizen”
Cultural: transmasculinity & butchness is beloved in queer spaces
Individual: cis male puts up with his cis male friend dominating the conversation and cutting
him off but is irritated and snaps at his cis female friend if she does this
The Taking Tree
Breakout Group
1) Group Agreement (5 min)
- respect pronouns and don’t assume
- confidentiality & right to pass
- how will your group deal with correcting each other?
- how will your group deal with trigger warnings?
- how will your group deal with “I” statements?
2) Discussion Questions (40 min)
- how does each person in your group face physical violence from the Taking Tree on an institutional
level? On a cultural level? On an individual level?
- how does each person in your group face exclusion from the Taking Tree on an institutional level? On a
cultural level? On an individual level?
- how has each person in your group internalized the Taking Tree on an institutional level? ON a cultural
level? On an individual level?
- how does each person in your group gain from the Taking Tree on an institutional level? On a cultural
level? On an individual level?
3) Talk Back (15 min)
How can we take down the Taking Tree?
How can we Liberate ourselves?
Liberation Strategies
- decolonization
- strategies to stop --or at minimum create mass awareness of-institutional oppression (protests, direct action, street theatre)
- strategies to protect and defend from violence (security culture and
safety plans)
- disability justice, healing justice, emotional justice, transformative
- building alliances (between oppressed groups) and allyship (between
privileged and oppressed groups)
- empowerment; cultural and skill shares; culture-building
Liberation Strategies
"Indigenous Decolonization is a process that Indigenous people whose communities were grossly
affected by colonial expansion, genocide and cultural assimilation may go through by [...]
understanding the history of their colonization and rediscovering their ancestral traditions and
cultural values. A contemporary concept in Indigenous health and healing studies, decolonization
(Indigenous) is that of a healing journey that may involve grief, anger, rage, growth and
empowerment[...] It may also incorporate a realization or consciousness that bondage still exists
today. Although a nation-states' political independence from a European state may have played
itself out on a limited "battlefield," so-to-speak, true independence from foreign occupation has
not yet occurred[...] Indigenous Decolonization in real-time physical terms would also mean either
an expulsion or exodus of the continuing forces that occupy the indigenous territory or a
complete and total elimination of the bondage that exists.Thus indigenous decolonization must
incorporate physical, psychological, and emotional and spiritual strategies since the body, the
mind and the soul are affected directly by colonialism. True decolonization can be achieved only
when all of these components have been addressed or met in some way." - Wikipedia
Institutional – Protesting /abolishing colonial mechanisms; indigenous sovereignty
Cultural – Abolishing derogatory mascots and costumes
Individual – Acknowledging whose land you’re on
and its true history
Liberation Strategies
1) Stopping or changing oppressive institutions and/or their mechanisms
2) Revealing an oppressive institution and/or its mechanism that had concealed
itself to avoid public scrutiny and dismantling
Institutional – Prison and police abolition; immigration “reform” and
border agency abolition; lobbying for policy and procedural
Cultural – Creating collectives, art, and literature focused on resistance;
creating media campaigns to promote a culture shift against
an oppressive institution and/or its mechanism
Individual – Do not support this oppressive institution and/or its
mechanism; spread information about it; make your lack of
support known publicly; direct action
Liberation Strategies
Security & Safety
1) Protecting yourself from individual, cultural, and institutional violence
2) Protecting your collective/group from individual, cultural, and institutional
Institutional – Abolish/protest against police brutality
Cultural – Security culture (creating a set of rules and guidelines to minimize
state harassment and violence against your group);
creating skill shares that teach your group and others about their
rights against police and border agents; self-defense skill shares
Individual – Creating a safety plan for yourself and with your friends if
you’re ever caught in a bashing or facing violence; self-defense
Liberation Strategies
Disability Justice
“As organizers, we need to think of access with an understanding of disability justice, moving away
from an equality-based model of sameness and “we are just like you” to a model of disability that
embraces difference, confronts privilege and challenges what is considered “normal” on every
front. We don’t want to simply join the ranks of the privileged; we want to dismantle those ranks
and the systems that maintain them[…] This work is about shifting how we understand access,
moving away from the individualized and independence-framed notions of access put forth by the
disability rights movement and, instead, working to view access as collective and
interdependent[…] Disability justice activists are engaged in building an understanding of
disability that is more complex, whole and interconnected than what we have previously found.” –
Mia Mingus
Institutional – Changing policies, language, spaces, training;
protesting against the Medical Industrial Complex
Cultural – Community care plans of interdependence
Individual – Taking ableist language out of your vocabulary
Liberation Strategies
Healing Justice
Excerpt from “Healing & Health Justice Collective Organizing Principles - US Social Forum Detroit 2010”
“We enter this work through an anti-oppression framework that seeks to transform and politicize the
role of healing inside of our movements and communities.
We are learning and creating this political framework about a legacy of healing and liberation that is
meeting a particular moment in history inside of our movements that seeks to: regenerate traditions
that have been lost; to mindfully hold contradictions in our practices; and to be conscious of the
conditions we are living and working inside of as healers and organizers in our communities and
Institutional – Questioning, dismantling, and protesting against the
Medical Industrial Complex; making spaces and time for healing
part of your organization’s policies
Cultural – Creating healing collectives; community care support groups; herbal skillshares;
safe (r) spaces where people facing the same oppression can heal together
Individual – Self-care integrated into community care;
reconnecting with ancestral forms of
Liberation Strategies
Emotional Justice
“Oppression is trauma. Every form of inequity has a traumatic impact on the psychology, emotionality
and spirituality of the oppressed. The impact of oppressive trauma creates cultural and individual
wounding. This wounding produces what many have called a “pain body”, a psychic energy that is not
tangible but can be sensed, that becomes an impediment to the individual and collective’s ability to
transform and negotiate their conditions. Emotional justice is about working with this wounding. It is
about inviting us into our feelings and our bodies, and finding ways to transform our collective and
individual pains into power. Emotional justice requires that we find the feeling behind the theories. It
calls on us to not just speak to why something is problematic, but to speak to the emotional texture of
how it impact us; how it hurts, or how it brings us joy or nourishment[…] It is my hope that we realize
that just as we must construct new systems and institutions, we must also develop new ways of relating
with each other and to our emotional selves.” – Yolo Akili
Institutional – Making guided dialogues and retreats around emotional discourse
as part of your organization’s policies
Cultural – Workshops to help collectives or groups learn how to respe ct emotional
information as much as reason and logic; also to learn to be accountable
instead of using tears/emotions to avoid accountability
Individual – Self-education on communication styles , emotional body & language;
self-awareness on psychological frameworks, trauma, & defense mechanisms
informing our interpretations of reality
Liberation Strategies
Transformative Justice
“It is a way of practicing alternative justice which acknowledges individual experiences and identities and
works to actively resist the state's criminal injustice system. Transformative Justice recognizes that
oppression is at the root of all forms of harm, abuse and assault. As a practice it therefore aims to
address and confront those oppressions on all levels and treats this concept as an integral part to
accountability and healing." - Philly Stands Up
"The goals of Transformative Justice are:
- Safety, healing, and agency for survivors
- Accountability and transformation for people who harm
- Community action, healing, and accountability
- Transformation of the social conditions that perpetuate violence - systems of oppression and
exploitation, domination, and state violence"
- Generation Five
Institutional – Survivor-centred policies that offer alternatives beyond police intervention,
such as healing circles, mediation, support for person who has done harm
Cultural – Workshops and skill shares on self-accountability, TJ, community acountability;
Support groups for survivors to heal; Support groups for offenders to keep
themselves accountable
Individual – Self-accountability practices
Liberation Strategies
Building Alliances & Allyship
Making an alliance or building allyship with someone is like building a
friendship—you can’t just declare yourself someone’s friend without
them consenting and agreeing to the relationship. You have to act like a
friend and be a friend before the other person decides to call you a
friend. Similarly, you have to act like an ally and be an ally to the person
or group of people before they decide to call you an ally. “Ally” is not an
identity that you can confer upon yourself; it’s something that people
consider you to be in relation to them. It’s something that has to be
worked on every day and every moment, and can be taken away if you
break people’s trust and act against the alliance you’ve built with them.
Good friendships and good alliances are based on similar principles:
communication, respect, trust, shared values, an exchange of care and/or
Liberation Strategies
Building Alliances & Allyship Examples
- volunteer with organizations/agencies working towards the rights and empowerment of diverse
genders and/or sexual orientations and/or ethnicities and/or abilities and/or bodies
- make sure that when you’re focusing on a specific oppression or multiple oppressions, you take
leadership from those most impacted so that the people aren’t being misrepresented or co-opted
- cultural exchange and alliances between migrants, indigenous peoples, Black peoples, and Orientalized
- take part in events that celebrate marginalized groups, their cultures and histories and people
- work on being able to take call-outs as an opportunity to learn and not an exercise in defensiveness
- work on finding ways to do effective call-outs or redirecting to others and resources if you lack the
- work on asking your friends and loved ones what they want from you as an ally and not assume what
they need
Liberation Strategies
Empowerment, Education & Culture-Building
1) Understanding the history of different oppressions and how you gain from it
2) Understanding the beauty of your own culture outside of or despite of
oppression’s affect on it
3) Building new cultural forms in resistance and/or as an alternative to
oppression’s cultural impact
Systemic/Institutional Examples
- creating anti-o policies and procedures; educational reform
Cultural Examples
- trainings, cultural exchanges, DIY media; eco-villages; free skools
- retreats to educate the power and beauty of aspects of ourselves that oppression taught us was worthless
Individual Examples
- self-education and undoing micro-aggressions
Liberation Strategies
Empowerment, Education & Culture-Building
Examples for Anti-Oppressive Procedures
- making sure staff/members are trained in anti-oppression overall
- making sure staff/members have access to training on specific forms of oppression
- making sure that the structures that the staff/members access are accommodating to oppressed
groups, such as having accessible and gender-neutral washrooms, accessible entrances and doorways,
ensuring trans folks can access the bathrooms they identify with if it’s not the gender-neutral ones,
prayer rooms for Muslim folks, smudging areas for indigenous folks, etc
- making sure that the terminology is inclusive of sexually diverse and gender diverse individuals, such as
not conflating genitalia with gender, using gender-neutral language when referring to large groups of
people with a variety of genders, not making assumptions that people will be in heterosexual pairings
only, etc.
- making sure oppressed groups can have separate spaces to heal together, especially from folks who are
privileged and may not have worked on their micro-aggressions
Liberation Strategies
Empowerment, Education & Culture-Building
A Note on Micro-Aggressions
Words or gestures done out of ignorance or good intentions that perpetuate
culturally and/or institutionally oppressive norms. Usually people do not know
that what they’re doing is oppressive and that what they’re doing is a product of
how oppression becomes internalized. Internalization is a more insidious form
than the other strategies of oppression (violence and isolation) because it is
harder to identify and people feel defensive and that their inherent goodness is
attacked if their micro-aggression is pointed out to them. It’s important to
combat micro-aggressions through self-education, allyship training, and cultural
Break Out Group
We will now return to our groups and go through another series of
discussion questions. The point of this exercise is to look at liberation
strategies and how to incorporate them in our own lives to combat the
oppression strategies of violence, exclusion, and internalization.
Once your group has gone through the questions, we’ll come all back
together to share what we’ve learned.
Break Out Group
Discussion Questions:
1) How can each person in your group decolonize on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an
individual level?
2) How can each person in your group resist oppression on an an institutional level? On a cultural level?
On an individual level?
3) How can each person in your group build security & safety on an institutional level? On a cultural
level? On an individual level?
4) How can each person in your group practice disability justice, healing justice, transformative justice
and/or emotional justice on an institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level?
5) How can each person in your group build alliances and allyship on an institutional level? On a cultural
level? On an individual level?
6) How can each person in your group promote empowerment, education, and culture-building on an
institutional level? On a cultural level? On an individual level?
Debrief & Bike Rack
1) Do you have more questions about heteropatriarchy, sexual orientation, or
etiquette concerning trans people?
2) Do you have more questions about capitalism and classism?
3) Do you want to know more about oppression and liberation/anti-oppression
4) Do you want to know more about racism?
5) Do you want to know more about building allies and being accountable?
6) Do you have a particular issue that you would rather email me about than ask
in front of everyone? ([email protected])
Ottawa Trainers & Facilitators
On Transmisogyny
DJ Freedman ([email protected])
Lyra Evans
On Anti-Blackness
Tarah Douillon
Dee Micho
On Settler Colonialism
Gabriel Castilloux
On Disability Justice & Ableism
Abla Abdelhadi
For the presenters that do not have their contact info, please contact me first and
I will check if they have the capacity to do presentations before connecting you
with them.
Please keep in touch by signing up on our mailing list or email
us at
[email protected]
Jeremy Dias (Director)
[email protected]
Lukayo Estrella (Presenter & Conferences Manager)
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