We expect this document to undergo many changes as we learn what does and does not work well. If you have suggestions or comments, please email us at greaterkciww at gmail dot com
To educate ourselves, each other, and the wider population about bigotry, including, but not limited to racism and homophobia. As workers, the unemployed, the under employed, and prisoners, we have been divided us along the lines of race, gender, sex, ethnicity, etc. “Divide and conquer” is a phenomenally powerful weapon and these divisions have seeped deep into our culture. Saying “all are welcome” is not enough to combat the overwhelming bigotry, both overt and tacit, that plagues us. To build class consciousness, it is essential that we actively work to deconstruct barriers to organizing and combat bigotry in its many forms. Overt bigotry, practiced by those who actively choose to hate and engage in hateful speech or activities, will be immediately rejected, censured, and publicly exposed by any and all means, for the safety and comfort of our members as well as the wider population. We will approach tacit bigotry, which often arises out of ignorance, with an intent to educate people and eradicate the tendencies, instead of simply alienating ignorant individuals and throwing them back out into the world as ignorant as they were when they came to us.
Conduct anti-oppression workshops for branch members and the general public. The workshops will be directly influenced by local, regional, national, and international members of the communities we are studying, whether they are IWW members or not. It is key that we take guidance directly from members of oppressed communities wherever possible. Where direct interaction is not possible, we may take guidance from a trusted person who is in direct contact with the individuals involved in the situations we would like to address. For some groups, developing relationships will be difficult and may require online interaction, travel, and other creative means of getting feedback. This direct interaction is essential so that we may learn to offer the exact kind of solidarity the people want in the most effective and least intrusive ways possible.
To learn how to most effectively address racism, we will be using the anti-racist training manual, “The Progressive Plantation: Racism Inside White Radical Social Change Movements” by Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin and strongly suggest that other Anti-Oppression Committees do the same since the author is an accessible anti-capitalist, anti-racist of color who is intimately familiar with the goals, ideology, history, methods, and structure of the IWW. It is recommended that the book is first reviewed people who are comfortable with criticism before sharing the text with the rest of the branch in anti-racist workshops. The Progressive Plantation can be purchased here https://www.wepay.com/x18fpby/stores/829693 Additional manuals will be recommended as they are identified, based on the simplicity of language, availability, recommendations from members of oppressed communities, etc.
Use all of our resources, outlets, networks, and social media to increase awareness about hateful groups, individuals, and activities and denounce them wherever they may occur. Our participation includes, but is not limited to, promoting petitions, phone and email campaigns, standing in solidarity if asked, and protesting hateful gatherings as a branch, rather than just as individuals. Again, as with the workshops, it is essential to work with, and take instructions from members of the communities who are directly affected in any given situation. Where direct interaction is not possible, we may take guidance from a trusted person who is in direct contact with the individuals involved in the situation we would like to address. Raising awareness and encouraging people to engage in activities do not require a vote but significant activity regarding a specific community should be discussed at Anti-Oppression Committee meetings so that we may all understand the community being addressed. Official branch support and statements of endorsement require a vote per Article V, Section 3 of the branch bylaws. In the event we wish to mobilize quickly, we may act as individuals in a personal capacity and seek branch endorsement after the fact, or we may attempt to call for a special meeting per Article II, Section 1 of the branch bylaws. Relevant portions of the bylaws are included at the end of this document.
Work closely with the General Defense Committee (GDC), Women’s Caucus, Gender Issues Committee, any future People of Color Caucus or Unemployed Caucus that may form, etc so that we may learn to recognize overlapping forms of oppression.
Coordinate with other branches that would like to form Anti-Oppression Committees.
Strongly encourage all members of marginalized groups to guide the Anti-Oppression Group and provide a safe space where marginalized people may freely express exactly what they think without fear of being shut down or offending anyone. Participants that are not part of an marginalized community should be prepared for harsh criticisms from marginalized people. These criticisms should be accepted gracefully and with humility. Criticism is essential to the ability to offer solidarity in a non-offensive manner and thereby build class consciousness.
Isolate and educate members who are potentially bigoted. Because we have such strong rhetoric, few bigots want to join the union, however all workers are welcome to join the IWW, and distinguishing between racism, for example, and ignorance can be difficult, so there is always a risk of accidentally letting overt racists in or accidentally alienating ignorant people who could be educated. If, after someone joins, that person begins making offensive comments, they will immediately be required to begin attending Anti-Oppression workshops and will be denied access to the main body of the branch, its listservs, and all other means of interaction until the Anti-Oppression Committee is satisfied that the individual is able to conduct themselves in an inoffensive manner.
Members of the Anti-Oppression Committee should make every effort during workshops to not shame or humiliate people who are ignorant but not hateful. Those who are there to attend the workshops are there to learn. Being divided and conquered means that there is an incomprehensible amount of power and wealth dedicated to keeping us ignorant. In undertaking this task, we recognize that we are deconstructing a culture of bigotry and it is important to remember that the ignorant are victims of a cultural indoctrination program and are often not choosing to be hateful. This should, in no way, be misinterpreted as an effort to accept ignorance or hatred, but, rather, as an effort to isolate and eliminate it.
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