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On Saturday 25th April at the RPI gathering, Abher Behn – mother, writer, sound artist, printmaker and
proud dilettante – will be facilitating a workshop on Street Activist Coalition Building Across the Margins. Here is the description….

*“Now we must recognise differences among (wo)men who are our equals,
neither inferior nor superior, and devise ways to use each others’
difference to enrich our visions and our joint struggles.”*

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

audre_lorde

Street and community activists use face to face engagement as a tool to
action change, raise awareness about social justice issues and the
atrocities of state and nation.

If, as “progressive” activists, we confront many issues in solidarity with the
marginalised communities they affect,why are the groups fighting for social
justice still so lacking in diversity?

Why are we are still struggling to embrace and include difference within
activist groups?

Why are the decisions of autonomous non-hierarchical activist groups still
being dominated by white straight able bodied privileged men, in said and
unsaid ways despite the rhetoric?

The anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist/feminist movements of the last 20 years
have worked hard to be truly “inclusive”, to avoid the political replication
of a rightwing exclusionary demographic (from which the leftist vanguard
suffered to its detriment) and essentialisms, but are we really succeeding
in doing this? In the very act of “including” we are announcing that there
is “another” to include, someone we place outside of the socio-economic
history of activist organisation.

If we continue to deny difference we deny access, despite the declarations
of an open door and so our potential for movement and transgression remains
a contradictory theoretical construct.

*******

In this workshop we will discuss and map the language of oppression and
“inclusivity”, how identity and privilege work complicitly with
race/gender/class/ableism in an immediate and destructive way in our lives
as activists and community organisers. How in trying to sustain our
communities and tackle local, global and personal oppressions we need to
find ways to challenge the behaviour, language and actions of the self and
one another beyond tokenistic gestures of tolerance and acceptance.

*****

Books that have informed the putting together of this workshop, deal with
community building both experientially and theoretically across the margins,
analyse class/race/able-ism/gender/privilege and are accessible and cheap to
buy second hand.

*Skin * Dorothy Allison
*Speaking sex to power * Patrick Califia
*Black women, writing and Identity: Migrations of the subject* Carole Boyce Davies
*Pedagogy of the Opressed* Paulo Freire
*Where we stand:Class matters* Bell Hooks
*A Restricted Country* Joan Nestle
*Yonnondio * Tillie Olson
*Chelsea Girls*Eileen Myles
*Zami: A new spelling of my name* Audre Lorde
*Paradise* Toni Morrison

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