Power and privilege training has become commonplace in US social justice activism over the past decade as an integral part of making real and lasting change. Here in the UK, interest in engaging with this practice and developing our own models in a different context is growing; in Bristol in 2009 activists held a Race & Privilege conference (www.raceprivilegeidentity.wordpress.com), there was a workshop at Coal Action Scotland’s Outdoor SkillShare (www.outdoorskillshare.noflag.org.uk/?page_id=7) in June 2010, and Seeds for Change (www.seedsforchange.org.uk) also held one at the Earth First Gathering August 2010. Also growing in the past two years, and a great point of reference, So We Stand (www.diyeducation.wordpress.com) “is an emerging grassroots movement of people who consciously work for empowering social change to develop multiracial politics and self defence strategies for environmental and climate justice.”
The practice stems from concern that too often it seems the patterns of the very social structures we are trying to shift are repeated in workplaces, collectives and groups. Seeing this calls for an examination of the issues on a much more personal, yet collective, level. From meetings dominated by speakers with male privilege, to networks dominated by middle class people with white privilege, looking at how privilege operates in our social interactions is a useful step towards shifting social relations. Being more aware of what’s actually going on can help us pin point what needs to change.
This week was our first session, and we’re keenly aware that doing a training can’t ‘heal’ us. Thinking about power and privilege is something we’ll all hopefully continue to do in our work for decades to come, rather than something we can ‘quick-fix’ capitalismo-style. The practice is not intended to be trust-building, but often to in fact make people feel uncomfortable in order to raise their awareness. Doing the training however involves an exploration of trust and an endeavour to be non-judgemental.
Our process will continue, both practically at PLATFORM, and in many other spaces beyond. Even though we’re just beginning, we wanted to share the resources we used, adapted and made to do this, for anyone else who is interested in developing this work in the UK.
Download our training outline: www.platformlondon.org/PowerPrivilegeTraining.pdf
Brilliant articles, most of which articulate a US perspective:
“White privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh (www.rantcollective.net/article.php?id=74)
“Tools for White Guys who are working for social change”
“Going to places that scare me: personal reflections challenging male supremacy”
Principles of Anti-Oppression
‘Outlaw Culture’ by bell hooks