23 March 2007

old dogs should learn new tricks or...

how i had an unexpected WHOA! moment at the maac meeting...

maac is the multicultural assessment and advisory committee of amnesty international - a board committee charged with moving amnesty to greater internal (and external) diversity - multicultural - anti-oppression achievements...

so we're meeting here at the annual general meeting and having a discussion about the implementation process for the new strategic plan - a plan that could have sweeping (positive) impacts upon the relevance and impact of amnesty as a human rights organization at the community level...

anyhoo we were having a discussion with njambi who is a staffer in washington working as a student leadership coordinator and she shared with us the difficulties encountered when trying to recruit culturally diverse and underrepresented youth into amnesty international...

it seems that even when amnesty is successful in bringing new people in, especially from economically disadvantaged communities, we are rather inept at creating safe spaces for them and sustaining their interest in human rights work with amnesty...and that is, i believe, precisely because as an organization we have not gone through the necessary internal cultural changes that will allow amnesty to attract new members...we have not developed campaigns that are rel event to their day-to-day realities AND we remain insensitive to the experiences and realities of people who are not predominantly white and middle classed...

for example - and here's my WHOA!!! moment - we don't imagine that some people have never flown before, that they have never had to get to the airport for a flight, never gone through security checkpoints (in an airport!), nor had to make a connecting flight...

so if you recruit a kid from the inner city who's never been involved with amnesty and book them to come to a conference, training, or planning session and wonder why they don't show up maybe it's because they didn't get the support they needed for interacting in a world that people of privilege take for granted...that the tools you laid out without checking in to see if they needed instructions were in fact obstacles to their participation...

that's one way that white (or class) privilege can play out in everyday life...it takes training for people who look like me to see things from a perspective different from the privileged one i navigate through on a daily basis and if we want to build a human rights movement that represents the world we want to see we have to challenge ourselves at every step just as we challenge those around us ... we too must be the change we hope to see and not see ourselves as outside that process...

peace out <3

1 comment:

nograysunflowers said...

so how do we fix it?