Principles of Transformative Solidarity Practice

Evening lounging - Jonathan Soren Davidson for Disabled And Here

Centering

Transformative solidarity requires centering those most affected by systems of oppression, and shifting power to directly impacted communities.

This means continuously inviting directly-impacted people and communities into spaces and making room for their critiques, guidance, and leadership – not just inviting folks in to talk about their trauma, without making any meaningful changes to the way organizing spaces are set up. It’s important to understand that people living at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression experience things you may not be aware of. This is an opportunity to learn and sharpen your political analysis, not a challenge to your identity or experiences. 

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Connections

Building connections across differences is a critical part of transformative solidarity. White supremacy wants to pit us against each other, but we can instead choose to cultivate empathy for each other’s perspectives, experiences, and causes. We can refuse to operate from a mindset of scarcity and competition, and instead make space for everyone’s voices to be heard.

LONDON, UK - March 15, 2019:Thousands of students and young people protest in London as part of the youth strike for climate march

Commonalities

Beloved Chicano activist, Betita Martinez, once said, “I still believe if we’re ever going to really have the power and build a movement strong enough to transform this society into one of justice with peace, a large part of that will happen as a result of different forces coming together, seeing what they have to fight for in common, and really getting out there and using everything they can — nonviolently, of course — to change this society.” We have shared values, shared hopes and dreams, and a shared interest in ending white supremacy – because oppression hurts all of us.

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Co-Liberation

Activist Lilla Watson once said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." We practice co-liberation by believing in the collective 'us' - by recognizing our liberation is inextricably connected, and we must work together towards our mutual freedom and redistribution of power. This means acknowledging the multi-generational consequences of white supremacy, anti-Black racism, and settler colonialism. Co-liberation also means that we develop an explicit commitment to dismantling anti-Black racism today. As Black leaders remind us: “When Black people are free, all people will be free.”

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Co-Conspiratorship

Co-conspirators recognize the need for co-liberation and they approach solidarity with respect and humility. They practice active listening and they follow the lead of those most directly impacted by systems of oppression. We all make mistakes - but rather than being defensive or feeling shame, co-conspirators listen and course-correct.

Group sleepover - Jonathan Soren Davidson for Disabled And Here

Capacity

Capacity refers to our individual or collective ability to show up and do this work for the long haul. This could mean identifying generative approaches to address conflicts, developing practices to take care of ourselves and our communities, or ensuring our staff have sustainability plans and are comfortable implementing them - even when that means the work must slow down. Along with self-care, rest, and self-reflection, developing your capacity could include identifying the different social change ecosystem roles you play, learning about restorative justice, and relying on mentors, peers, and guides to support your well-being.