Engaging in active solidarity will entail identifying the areas or spheres where we can realistically influence and make change, which are discussed in this section.
SPHERES OF INFLUENCE
There are many ways to engage in solidarity with oppressed groups, which is often based on which sphere we are acting from. Thus, it is important is to choose the sphere of influence (see below) in which we hope to make change. Being able to apply our intervention to the appropriate sphere of influence is a developmental skill that will be helpful for in our solidarity efforts.
Here are a few ways you could start engaging in solidarity at the various spheres of influence:
Individual Sphere (educating yourself)
Influencing personal change by developing awareness and educating yourself!
Reading books/articles or watching movies/documentaries/shows about social justice or social inequality by people from oppressed groups
Taking courses/trainings related to social justice or social inequality (e.g., BAM!)
Journaling about your feelings for, thoughts about, and experiences with people who are different from you. Write about where these thoughts, feelings, and experiences originate
Engaging with and following the lead of people from oppressed groups
Speaking less and listening more to people different from you
Building capacity to receive and accept criticism
Embracing and processing the complex emotions that come with engaging in social justice work
Creating a list of all of the ways that privilege and oppression have impacted your lived experiences. Consider how racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and other ‘isms’ impact your lived experiences. Include experiences when you have been oppressed, passive, and/or oppressive, as well as when you have used your privilege(s) to act in solidarity with oppressed groups
You are already working on the individual sphere of influence by taking this training! Continue making change in your individual sphere with an activity. Start creating an ongoing list to help you identify and acknowledge your privileges in order to reflect on the impact they have had on your lived experiences. Make note of your feelings (emotions) and thoughts as you create the list.
Influencing change in people you interact with!
Engaging a family member in a conversation about privilege and oppression
Supporting a loved one during their coming out process
Pointing out sexist, classist, racist, ableist, and/or homophobic/transphobic language among people close to you, and describing why the language is harmful and inappropriate
To start influencing your interpersonal sphere, identify someone close to you and encourage them to take the BAM! Training and engage with them in conversations about it as they go through the training.
Social Institutions Sphere
Influencing institutions (e.g., school, work, government) where you interact on a regular basis!
Speaking up in class when a professor makes a transphobic remark
Talking to your boss about the lack of access ramps for people with mobility disabilities
Joining campus (e.g., MCDA, cultural student orgs) or community organizations focused on diversity and social justice
To start influencing the social institutions you interact with, identify a social justice oriented organization and become an active member.
Helping organize community, state, or national campaigns targeting the repeal of oppressive laws (e.g., separation of immigrant families)
Creating social media campaigns that address a form of inequity (e.g., racism in the criminal justice system, or homophobic bullying in schools)
Contributing financially to local, state, national, or international social justice-oriented organizations
Influencing the larger society, including those with whom and where you interact infrequently (e.g., city, state, nation, globe).
To start influencing society at large, join and spread the word about social media campaigns challenging social inequities.
It is essential to figure out the sphere(s) of influence in which we wish to make a change, and then, target our actions accordingly.
Take some time to consider the following questions. It might be helpful to write down your responses:
- How does reading the above inspire you?
- What are additional acts of solidarity you could realistically do at each sphere of influence?
- What knowledge, skills, and resources do you need to take action? ? How can you obtain these? What barriers may you experience?
TEST Your Knowledge
After completing all four modules, take this test to assess your knowledge on what you learned in this training.TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE