Anti-Oppression/Collective Liberation Group Agreements

This statement is a reflection of Peaceful Uprising’s philosophy towards collective social liberation. As a climate justice organization, we recognize and loudly declare the relationships between the legacies of social and economic oppressions and the destruction of our planet. We expect all who identify with Peaceful Uprising’s movement and vision to align themselves with these principles and work to dismantle oppressions and build a socially and ecologically just world.

Peaceful Uprising understands oppression as interpersonal and institutional power dynamics that affirm certain identities or experiences while actively oppressing others. Forms of oppression are many but include oppression based on class, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, age, ability, immigration status, language, etc.

Oppression takes many forms:

  • a system of mass incarceration that especially impacts specific racial, economic or ethnic groups

  • reinforcing stereotypes about people from a particular group (even if that stereotype is presumed to be positive)

  • interrupting, ignoring, not seeing, or erasing people from traditionally marginalized groups

  • sexual harassment or assault

  • evaluating someone’s appearance, especially their body shape, size or attractiveness

  • the use of another person’s culture at their expense

All of these examples derive from specific and historic systems of power; they create deep divisions in our society and threaten the emotional, psychological or physical safety of various groups.

Some identities are not oppressed by historical systems of power, but instead experience inheritances that provide them unearned privileges. Some of us inherit access and power through our class, race, gender, etc. While we are not personally responsible for past atrocities that established that power (e.g., patriarchy, slavery, genocide, economic exploitation), we are responsible for how we use our access to power and opportunities (such as wealth, education, social rank, etc.) and that is where anti-oppression work begins. Climate justice requires recognition of the intersections between social oppression and the destruction of a livable planet. For example, those most devastated by climate change and environmental degradation are often those most oppressed by social and economic systems.

Peaceful Uprising puts anti-oppression at the center of our organizing for ethical and strategic reasons; anti-oppression is not charity, but rather a strategic vision that requires mutual aid and solidarity across identities, groups and borders to win ecological and social justice.

Peaceful Uprising recognizes that unlearning oppressive world views and behaviors takes time. We are developing group practices to address oppression and hold each other accountable. We have patience with learning curves but we expect people in our network to be intentional about practicing towards change. It is not enough to superficially recognize oppression or privileges in the world, we must actively undermine the systems of power that oppress some and privilege others. Anti-oppression is not an easily implemented formula; it is a lifelong practice. People who are new to the concept will need time to adopt it regardless of how committed they are to doing so. We strive to be patient and compassionate in this commitment but expect earnest effort toward these collective goals now.

This statement was approved via consensus in the fall of 2013.