Our Invitations into Dismantling Institutional Oppression

Illustration by Natalie P Bui

Operating as a Women of Color owned business in predominantly white institutions have led to countless challenging conversations and moments, internally as well as externally.

Below are our guiding principles in how we approach our diversity, equity, and inclusion work around race and gender equity, with our clients and with each other. The amount of times we’ve had to call each other in to not respond urgently or to draw boundaries with clients is endless. In those moments, we learn how deep we have to dig to continuously uproot practices that stop us from showing up as fully human in this white supremacist capitalistic society. All of this ultimately is about deepening our relationships and our capacity to engage in accountability and critical love. And we continue to learn and evolve these invitations in real time.

The following philosophies are drawn from the works of Adrienne Maree Brown, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Meenadchi, Loretta Ross, and the work of so many more activists and elders before us — namely many Black women. We share these back with you today in hope of furthering this conversation and as a tool for moments you might find yourself deep within the work, seeking a grounding affirmation.

  1. The Process is Going to Get Messy.

We will need to create space for generative tension, and challenge our right and entitlement to comfort. Normalize operating in non-linear and non-binary ways of success.We want to commit to integrity not perfection.

2. Active Listening.

Absorb what is being said before looking for loopholes or trying to escape the natural messiness. Challenge judgement with curiosity. Be aware of how much space you take up. Who do we need to be hearing MORE from? How can we center the most historically silenced voices?

3. Responsibility to self and community.

We all are making a commitment to ourselves and each other to show up. To us, that means practicing self-accountability. This means being responsible for your words and actions and their impact, centering care, and also committing to unlearning and relearning all the harmful ways we’ve internalized white supremacy.

4. Abundance over scarcity.

The systems we will be unpacking together like racism, white supremacy, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, anti-Blackness, capitalism, sexism, xenophobia — all teach us to operate in fear, and that there is not enough. We offer that we to try to operate from a place of possibility for transformation and radical re- imagination.

Our invitations are continuously evolving as we learn and continue to grow. What are some guiding principals you practice your work by? Tell us in the comments below!

SHIFT is a gender and racial equity consulting group founded by three women of color. We tackle institutionalized oppression one relationship at a time through trainings, workshops, and consult on diversity, equity, and inclusion and sexual harassment prevention topics. We are committed to centering equity, safety, and inclusion for all communities through compassionate accountability, dialogue, and an arts-based lens. Contact us for more information on trainings, workshops, and consultation at team@SHIFTingculture.co. Follow us on IG at @SHIFTconsultingco or visit our website at www.shiftingculture.co.

Racial equity and gender equity consulting group founded by three women of color. •Natalie Bui, Veline Mojarro, Kausar Mohammed• Visit www.shiftingculture.co.

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