Monday, November 9, 2015

LOCUS “Keeping Current” Happy Hour III Recap

For LOCUS “Keeping Current” Happy Hour III we met on October 21st at Green Spoon Cafe with the purpose of discussing three topics (activist strategies and white culture, tone policing, and elitism in social movements) brought up by three articles elected as pre-reads for the event: 
We began the discussion by sharing personal experiences in activist spaces. The variety of experiences and perspectives of activism in the group directed us to a terminology discussion about the meaning of activism (noun) and what it means to be an activist (adjective)? After some time we arrived at consensus that there is a specific image that comes in mind when we heard the word activist--from personality, to work, and physical appearance--that can exclude the volunteer commitments in our multicultural communities, or the continuous discussions we have with others when witnessing discrimination. The discussion also explored the challenges of ageism and socioeconomic privilege in activism. Some of us acknowledged times when we ourselves fell under the concept of “elitism” and excluded others from discussions because they didn’t posses the same knowledge that we did. 

We continued the discussion with tone policing and intertwined it with activism critics and white culture and privilege. We talked about how many times when people of color (women of color in the case of the articles) call out racism, the discussion always becomes about how it was called out and not about what was said. Then, hyper-sensitive, angry, emotional, over-exaggerative labels are placed on the people of color who called out racism and discrimination. Further, the group shared their experiences, like workplaces, where whites were a majority in the space. Besides discussing our experiences code switching, we also talked about how white culture has been normalized as the “professional” culture, where talking about or calling out racism is a taboo and even considered unprofessional. Some of the attendees shared anecdotes in which they felt uncomfortable calling out prejudiced remarks or situations in which people of color were called “asocial” and were held accountable for building relationships in which the efforts would be one-sided (the person of color forced to understand the white middle-class experience but not the other way around). 

We concluded the event with re-sharing each other’s name and taking the opportunity to do more one-on-one networking.

Event participants dining at Green Spoon Cafe

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