Anti-Oppression Home

Occupy Boston Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Workshop
October 16, 2011 7pm - 9:00pm



1. Welcome / Context [ 5 min, Stasha ]
  • Use “People’s Mic”
  • Grounding.
  • How did we get here?
  • Give background on why this workshop was proposed.

2. Ground rules [ 3 min, Mariama ]
  • Try using the “Step Up/Step Back” technique. (For those who are shy, step up and consider sharing/talking more. For those who are frequent contributors, consider stepping back and listening more.)
  • One Mic -- Only one person speaks at a time.
  • Don’t engage in side conversations.
  • Hold questions & comments on “Bike Rack” (aka “Parking Lot”) we commit to getting back to them


3. Racial Wealth Divide [ 30 min, Steve Schnapp United for a Fair Economy ]
  • Video clip from the 1987 feature film Matewan, directed by John Sayles. The film is based on the true story of the 1920 Battle of Matewan, West Virginia, in which miners at the Stone Mountain Mining Company confronted representatives of the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency who had been hired by the mining company to evict the miners. The miners had been on strike, organizing with the United Mineworkers Union, when the company brought in immigrant workers and African American miners to break the strike. A “scab” is a strikebreaker. In this excerpt, James Earl Jones portrays “Few Clothes” Johnson, a leader of the African American miners. Chris Cooper portrays union organizer Joe Kenehan. __http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=ZzjWbag6zxQ__
  • Stepping forward and back exercise on the Roots of the Racial Wealth Divide in Government Policies
  • All sharing is voluntary.
    • Instructions:
1. Ask volunteers to stand up in a line in the middle of an open floor space (explain that anyone who doesn’t want to reveal their family history shouldn’t volunteer).
2. Call out the “step forward if/step back if” government actions (see below).
(Usually Black, Native American and Latino folks are far back, Jews and Asians and recent immigrants are near the line, whites are forward, and WASPs are far forward).
3. Imagine that this is a race for wealth that’s on the far wall, and these are your starting lines. What conclusions do you draw from what you see?
Step Back
Step Forward
Your family members who were in the US workforce in the 1930s to 1950s didn’t get Social Security benefits.
Your family members who were in the workforce in the 1930s to 1950s got Social Security benefits
Your ancestors lost land due to conquest by European colonizers or the US government.
Your ancestors got land under one of the Homestead Acts.
Your ancestors lived in danger of being lynched, with inadequate police protection.
Your ancestors got land in grants from monarchs in colonial days or from the US
Your ancestors were slaves
Your ancestors owned slaves.
Your Ancestors arrived as a Catholic or Jewish immigrant from Europe before 1950.
Your ancestors were voluntary Protestant immigrants from Europe to the American colonies or the US.
You or your ancestors arrived as an immigrant from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia or Latin America.
You or your ancestors arrived as a refugee or immigrant from a country targeted as a communist enemy by the United States, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam or the Soviet Union.
Your ancestors were forced to live on Indian reservations.
You or your ancestors arrived in the US with the promise of a good-paying job on arrival.
You have ancestors who lived in the US but weren’t allowed to be citizens and/or to vote because of their race
You are a US citizen and all your US family/ancestors have been citizens and eligible to vote.
You have ancestors who lived in the US but weren’t allowed to own land because of their race
During the Depression, your family member(s) got a public works job.
You had ancestors who lived in the US but were barred from attending most colleges due to their race.
You or your ancestors went to college on the GI bill

You or your ancestors got mortgages through cheap VA or FHA loans

You or your ancestors owned a farm and got farm aid through the Department of Agriculture

Your parents or ancestors owned a small business that got government loans or contracts.
You attended an underfunded urban or rural public high school.
You attended a well-funded suburban public high school
You were denied a mortgage because your neighborhood was considered too risky to make loans (redlining)
You were able to get a loan to buy a house in the neighborhood of your choice.
You were offered a subprime mortgage and ended up in foreclosure and/or eviction.



4. Peer-Share [ 15 min]
  • Discuss issues raised in previous step.
  • Speak to your neighbor: Ask people to say what came up for them.

5. Temperature Check [ 10 min, Vonds ]
  • Ask people how they're feeling, figure out where we are at as a group at this moment.

6. Are we the 99%? [15 min, Jason]


we want to see who we are, who is in this space. If able, please sit, kneel or crouch down. I will make some statements in the first person, and if that statement is true for you, please stand up.

We want to see, are we the 99%? I have some statistics about who makes up Boston. We're going to do this piece by piece. This is not a calling out, this is about recognizing where we are. This isn't about guilt, this isn't about blame, it's about taking responsibility for who we are, knowing we need to see ourselves to make change. Let go of the guilt so we can take action. Thank you.



I am under 18.

In Boston that's about 19.8% of Boston. We're at 1%.

I am over 65.

In Boston that's about 10.4%. We're at 1%.

I am a woman.

In Boston that's about 51.9%. For us it's 54% tonight.

I am Black.

In Boston that's about 25.3%. For us it's 7%.

I am Native America.

In Boston that's about .4%. We're at 3%.

I am Asian American, Asian Pacific Islander.

In Boston that's about 7.6%. We're at almost 3%.

I am Latino/Latina.

In Boston that's about 14.4%. For us it's 6%.

I am White.

In Boston that's about 54.5% We're guessing we're at about 80-90%.

I am an immigrant.

In Boston that's about 25.8%. For us it's around 7%.

My first language is something other than English.

In Boston that's about 33.4%. For us it's 11%.

I have a Bachelor's degree or higher.

For Boston that's 35.6%. Are we more than that? YES!

I or my family own the home that I live in.

For Boston that's about 35.6%. We're probably close to that.

My household income is $39,600 or more in my household.

For Boston that's the median of where we are in Boston. 50% of households make less, 50% make more.

My household has an income of $18

That's 19.5% of Boston. We're at approximately 10%.

I fabulously identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer.

That's about 12.3% in Boston by some estimates, but that's got to be low. We are at 20%. All movements have high percentages of queer folks, even when they've been oppressed in those very movements.

I identify as a person with disabilities.

Boston 11.3% of people who self-identify on one survey they found. WE're at 4%.



There are other identities in this space, in this movement, but knowing some of who we are is how we can move forward with transforming this space.


7. Definition of Oppression [ 10 min, Mariama ]
      • “prejudice + power combined to create systems that privilege one group at the expense of another”
      • Introduction of the iceberg of oppression - internal/interpersonal/institutional/ideological (cultural)
        - (from the notes)
        There are four forms of oppression that we want to look at. We use the 4 I's of oppression:
        Ideological (cultural) oppression – the one that people talk about the least. Widely held beliefs that are reinforced that one race or groups is superior to another group and deserves more rights and privileges in a society. Those folks might not think they're getting anything special.

        We're starting with the lens of race. It gets much deeper than that. But for tonight we're starting here.

        Interpersonal oppression – discrimination. It's held by individuals. It's not connected to system (even though it may come with power). It's individuals acting against members of a certain group.

        Internalized oppression – this is huge. We all live in America. We all come from different parts of the world where these things have existed. We live in this stew. We all take on things we have heard all our lives. Example of skin lightening cream.

        Institutional oppression – the policies of dominant group, intended or not, to have differential effect of minority groups. Intentional or not, if the effect is unequal but you don't know or are not measuring that effect – it doesn't matter what your intentions are. Policies that are considered neutral. Structural and institutional are connected.

        Iceberg image. There's always a piece of the iceberg above the water line – that's the individual. But it doesn't stand by itself, it's held up by the institutional and cultural oppression.

        What is making our icebergs disappear is not that something is happening here at the top of our iceberg, it's that the temperature of our ocean is changing and they are melting from the bottom up. We've got to do the same thing in our group, in our culture. Change the temperature of our ocean to melt the ideological and institutional oppressions, to melt the whole thing.

      • Use People's Mic to articulate definitions and give examples (also have posters, that need to be made, that have definitions on them and the iceberg drawn out)
        • have everyone yell out types of oppression that they know and understand
      • Articulate to the group that we are talking specifically about racism for multiple reasons, including that it is the most talked about form of oppression going on in this space. We recognize that all forms of oppression are operating in this space. We welcome people to go deeper on this and on all topics of oppression in this space.


<<< BREAK INTO SMALL GROUPS >>>
8. Race [ 30 min, all facilitators ]
  • Tell a story about how you have seen race and/or racism playing out within Occupy Boston. TELL A PERSONAL STORY!
    • No speeches. Story time.
  • Facilitators: it is your responsibility to direct people back to this.

9. Closing exercise [ 5 min]
  • Instruction: Ask how do you want to go deeper on this work.
  • If they want to be contacted put name and email on back of card.
  • Materials:
    • Note cards.
    • Pens.

>>> BACK TO LARGE GROUP <<<
10. Sharing [ 5 min ]
  • Invite some participants (popcorn style) to share what they wrote on their cards (we will be sure that it ends on a challenging but good note)

Related Info:

  1. Notes
  2. Participant Feedback