“Solidarity & Intersectionality” Participant Page

This page is for registered participants in the online course Solidarity & Intersectionality: building power together. Please do not share this page with anyone who is not taking the course. All materials for the course will be compiled and accessible on this page as they come available – including homework assignments and recordings of live sessions.

Homework Assignments

Recordings

  • Live session recordings are linked at the top of the corresponding homework assignments.
  • We edit and post recordings 2-3 days after each live session. The session one recording should be available Tuesday evening.
  • Chat logs are also archived and linked at the top of the corresponding homework assignment.

FACEBOOK GROUP – request to join here

  • Write us at info@whiteawake.org and if your FB profile name is different from the name you used to register. We cross check FB requests with the participant list.
  • FB Group norms: Please review the guidelines in the pinned post at the top of the page and ensure that we approach one another online with the same respect, curiosity and care that we are bringing to our live sessions. 🙂

Have you visited the Logistics & FAQ page?

If not, please do so now! You will need about 20 minutes to review the Logistics and FAQ page for the course. This page gives you all the information you need to participant in live sessions and/or access recordings and course mailings.


Homework for Session One / April 26

Recording of Session One here

Chat Log from Session One here

Resources referenced during call:

***

Welcome to Solidarity & Intersectionality! We are so excited to be engaging in this work with you. Below is your first homework assignment for the course. We ask that you do your best to complete it before session one (April 26).

Your homework for this course is divided into two sections: Study (with resources for you to read or view) and Activities. We will allow time in the beginning of each session to check in about your experience with the assigned homework.

Books used for study assignments: In future homework assignments (not this one) we will be giving assignments from two different books. If it is possible for you to purchase these books and read the selections directly from them, we encourage you to do so. Many independent booksellers are shipping at this time. However, when we assign book selections, we will also post them as PDF’s (temporarily) so that everyone has access, whether you’re able to purchase copies or not. These books are: The Populists’s Guide to 2020 (Ball & Saagar) and No Is Not Enough (Klein).

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STUDY

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ACTIVITIES

Throughout this course, we will assign simple activities designed to help you internalize, and relate in ways that go beyond the intellect, the concepts, strategies and stories (or histories) we are working with in the study materials, and during live sessions.

To kick off the course, we will start with two basic activities, which we will build upon as the course progresses.

Solidarity Altar

This assignment pertains to a space we are asking you to create within your home. This space does not need to be large or grand in any way; you simply need room for a few items that represent particular qualities. We do suggest that the space be one that is easily accessible to you, in a room that is part of your daily routines.

Your first assignment is to first select and/or clear a space within your home for this altar. If you already have an altar practice, you might clear or clean (ritually and/or physically) your altar space. You may, alternatively, want to set up a different space just for this course.

There are three components to your assignment for your altar this week. First, we suggest placing an object or objects on your altar that represent or hold a space for the following three:

  1. Your family (whether by blood, adoption, or choice)
  2. Something that inspires you in the pursuit or desire for collective liberation
  3. Your work (whether paid or unpaid; the labor you do that helps society run)

The items you select may be directly related to these three things (such as a family photograph, book that inspires you, or a tool that you might use in your work). They can also be more symbolic, and related to these three topics in ways that build on associations you have with them.

Our desire is that the altar you set up is a way of grounding and focusing the work of this course in: the life and needs of your family (whether this is the family you grew up in, or a family that you have chosen for yourself as an adult); the leadership, stories, or movements that inspire your own work or desire for an equitable, life sustaining society; and the labor that you do (whether paid or unpaid) that has a direct relationship to your and your family’s economic and material well being (such as caring for children, caring for the home, or making money through any number of trades or other paid pursuits).

In addition to items that relate to these three areas, you may also want to include natural elements or other items (such as a candle, incense, flowers, bowl of water, shaker, colorful cloth, etc) that have a pleasing sensory appeal.

If you chose to do a ritual in the creation of your altar, think of what would be meaningful for you.  A ritual could include such activities as breathing three long, slow, deep breaths to help ground you and then placing the items you’ve collected out on the altar all at once, and speaking an intention you have for what you want to get out of this course.  It could be placing items on your altar as you collect them, taking a moment to feel what energy/emotions come up for you as you hold your item and then place it on your altar. The altar is for you, as a source of grounded, meaningful energy to support you through the course, make it yours in whatever ways feel right to you.     

If you have any questions, drop us a line at: info@whiteawake.org

Solidarity Action

Given that solidarity is a central theme of our work, we plan to give you an assignment with each session that supports the sense of contributing to the common good – being part of something larger than ourselves. For this first assignment, our hope is that you can start with a small, simple action that makes this aspect of interconnected, human relationship embodied and alive.

Given that we are all impacted, in one way or another, by social distancing measures our towns, cities, or states may be taking, our focus in this first assignment is on caring for someone near to you. Here are some examples of actions you might take:

  • Reach out to someone you know who might have a hard to accessing supplies, and see if there is anything you can bring by to them when you are out getting supplies for yourself.
  • Set up a phone tree with a few neighbors or friends as a way of ensuring that everyone is accounted for, and each person in the group can support others according to their means.
  • Say a prayer for people on a front line of this crisis.
  • Take time to listen and be especially kind to someone you live with.
  • If you sew and have gotten set up to make a cloth mask for yourself, make a few extra to share (this is inspired by a Tweet from NYC in which a person posted a sign in a public space, with multiple face masks in ziplock bags pinned to it, available for whoever needed them)

You are likely already caring for people around you in practical and creative ways. We hope you’ll take a moment to consider this type of action within the larger context of solidarity – knowing that we depend on one another and committing to being there for one another through thick and thin – as part of the work of this class. You might do this activity at any point in the next two weeks.


Homework for Session Two / May 3

Recording of Session Two here

Chat Log from Session Two here

***

Your homework this week is again divided into two sections: Study (with resources for you to read or view) and Activities. We will allow time in the beginning of each session to check in about your experience with the assigned homework.

In this assignment we also begin to incorporate optional resources for your consideration, now or (most likely) later. The “Deeper Study” section in particular is intended for your use once the course is over, with suggested resources for exploring in more depth the themes we are working with in a given session.

STUDY

Fleshing out content from Session One:

Capitalism

  • Optional: Current & Specific Example of Divide and Control
    • If you have time, check out this interview with David Sirota, OR this article on the same topic, which highlights a divide and control strategy being used in the pension fund crisis to avoid monetary accountability to government employees
    • Pull quote: “[Pension] shortfalls are not the product of Kentucky’s public-sector workers being greedy or lavishly remunerated … the shortfalls are the result of 1) state lawmakers repeatedly refusing to make annual contributions to the system, 2) investment losses from the 2007 financial crisis and now the COVID downturn, and 3) especially risky hedge fund investments ….”

Solidarity-Based Organizing

Prep for Session Two:

Intersectionality & Solidarity

**Below is a “deeper study” section which you can return to as you have time and interest (perhaps once the course is concluded). Meanwhile, please scroll down to ensure you have also reviewed the Activities portion of this assignment! 🙂

Deeper Study:

The Leap Manifesto

Barbara Smith Interview

Intersectionality & Solidarity

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ACTIVITIES

Solidarity Meditation

This is an activity focused on nourishment for our hearts and spirits on the journey against supremacy systems and for solidarity and collective liberation.  We experience the heartbreak, overwhelm, and sadness of what we are up against, what it has done to us, the people we love, our communities and the Earth.  It’s critically important that we develop practices that nourish us. This is one offering, among many that you may already practice and that are around us, passed on in our cultures, in our spiritual and secular traditions, and in our communities.  Use it, modify it, do what feels right and good, with a focus on nourishment through the theme of solidarity.

The activity is a meditation on the theme of solidarity and, specifically, the power and energy of deeply interconnected, intersectional solidarity that brings down the ruling class strategy of division and unites us – our people, our communities – for the work of justice and all getting free.  You can do this sitting, standing, going for a walk, whatever feels right to you.

First, find a place to sit or stand, and feel the connection of your body to the Earth. Take three deep, slow breathes, and allow your mind and body to relax. Drop your shoulders, release tension where you can, stretch in ways that feel good, in ways that create more space in your body for nourishing energy to flow from your connection to the Earth, and bring your mindful attention to relaxing your body.  

Take three more deep breathes and this time, when you inhale, think of whatever feels nourishing to you, whatever brings you positive energy – people and animals you love, experiences you cherish, powerful moments that helped you become the person working for collective liberation that you are today. Inhale and feel the energy of those positive thoughts and images moving through your body. On the exhale, think of what you want to let go of, what holds you back or gets in the way of your commitment to collective liberation. Imagine yourself breathing that energy out of your body and releasing it – pushing it out with your breathe, releasing it from your fingers or feet, holding your hands up to your chest on the inhale and on the exhale pushing your arms out to the sides or in front of you, releasing the energetic hold of whatever holds us back.  

Now, decide if you would like to continue standing, sitting, walking or some other way you’re inclined to move or position your body. Be mindful of breathing slower and deeper, and come to your own rhythm with your breath. Use your breath to connect inward, while softening your gaze on the world around you or closing your eyes if stationary. Take a moment to remember the divide and control strategy of ruling classes and now breath that out and focus your attention on solidarity for collective liberation. In whatever way feels right, invite the energy of solidarity into your body, your heart, your spirit. Focus your mind on solidarity in whatever way works best for you, perhaps slowly saying the word solidarity to yourself, or imagining what solidarity looks like, or moving your hands together and then away and feeling that coming together of your hands. Let images, feelings, sensations come up, make space for them, invite them in, create them.  Let this go on for 5, 10, 15 mins, depending on what feels good for you.

The final part of this meditation on solidarity is expressing what came up for you – through journaling, drawing, creating art, finding something on your walk that expresses solidarity for you, or finding something in your room (a picture, a book, an object). The goal here is to allow yourself to feel the energetic power of solidarity and create or find something that expresses/represents that power. We want to develop our capacity to access and create powerful, grounding energy for solidarity as we live, work, love, dream, and and build collective liberation values, commitment and action.

If you want to place what you wrote, created, found on your altar, go for it. If you want to share it with someone important to you, go for it. If you want to share it with the group doing this course together (we’ll get a Facebook page up for you soon; you may also take a picture and share it during our next call), do what feels right for you.

Thank you for helping us all build up the power of solidarity, against supremacy systems and for collective liberation.

Solidarity Action

Our intention for this segment of the homework is to build on the first assignment to provide you with suggestions or opportunities to take more immediate action in a solidarity manner during this pandemic and economic crisis. For now, though, we’d like you to simply review the action assignment in the first homework assignment and consider if there is an simple action you would like to take at this time, bringing the attention and intention we suggested for linking the action to the work of this course.


Homework for Session Three / May 17

Recording of Session Three here

Chat from Session Three here

Article Eleanor shared during the session:

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The focus of our session on May 17 will be on ways in which a politics of identity has been distorted – both on the “left” (or within activist spaces) as well as in more mainstream political discourse. Our goal is to unpack patterns of distortion to see how they do not serve the larger goal of collective liberation, and through this shed further light on our understanding of how solidarity & intersectionality fit together in a mutually beneficial way.

STUDY

Deeper Study

Populist’s Guide to 2020 (co-authored by the hosts of Rising, The Hill TV)

If you have chosen (or at a later date choose) to purchase a copy of The Populist’s Guide to 2020, note that the following selections have particular relevance to the topics we’ll be discussing in session three:

  • “Identity” – pgs 133-137
  • “White Feminists Melt Down Over AOC’s Bernie Endorsement” – pgs 139-143
    • see original monologue on YouTube here 
  • “Historic Election of Black AG Conveniently Ignored” – pgs 161-165
    • see original monologue on YouTube here

Adolph Reed, Jr

Touré F. Reed

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ACTIVITIES

We’ve included three types of activities in this session’s assignment: 1) a meditation; 2) an altar exercise; and 3) a list of solidarity actions you might want to take. We don’t expect everyone will have time for every activity given, but want to create this resource of embodied exercises to utilize during the course and come back to at any time once the course is complete.

Solidarity Meditation

This is an activity focused on nourishment for our hearts and spirits on the journey against supremacy systems and for solidarity and collective liberation. We hope you will use this meditation if and as it serves, feeling free modify it, doing whatever feels right and good, with a focus on nourishment through the theme of solidarity.

You can do this meditation sitting, standing, going for a walk, whatever feels right to you. You may want to read over the meditation before engaging in it, potentially even recording yourself reading aloud to guide yourself through the steps (pausing where you feel you will need more time).

The meditation is designed to be a reflection on the deeply embodied web of interconnections we have with other humans in a far reaching social and economic network. We will focus on these connections with other humans (some known, but most not) as a way of drawing our mind and spirit to the potential of building collective power, through solidarity, that can transform human society so that it is respectful and life sustaining for all beings (human and non-human alike).

First, find a place to sit or stand, and feel the connection of your body to the Earth. Take three deep, slow breathes, and allow your mind and body to relax. Drop your shoulders, release tension where you can, stretch in ways that feel good, in ways that create more space in your body for nourishing energy to flow from your connection to the Earth, and bring your mindful attention to relaxing your body.

Take three more deep breathes and this time, when you inhale, spend some time thinking about all the humans you are connected to in order to sustain your life. You are welcome to think of loved ones that you know – people who provide the sustaining human connections that give life meaning and joy – however we hope you will also turn your mind towards people you do not know, whose labor is necessary for your shelter, your food, your access to electricity, your entertainment, your bodily care, and everything else you need in life. These people include are laborers who pick food; factory workers who operate machinery; warehouse workers who ensure the products we need are packed and ready for distribution; truck drivers or other transport personnel who distribute goods; and retail employees such as grocery workers, or essential health care workers who receive us in clinics and hospitals, all of whom ensure we have to access the things we need for life.

As you think of these different people or groups of people with whom you are connected, you might visualize these connections as though they were material in form – threads of light, yarn, silken thread … imagine literal lines of connection between you and these people.

As this network of connections grows in your imagination, allow yourself to contemplate the connections between other people that you are envisioning. Various laborers depend on one another as well, for the different roles that different groups fulfill. And each person in the world has people with whom they are connected – family, friends, loved ones – and people who explicitly depend on them. You are also are a part of this web, providing essential tasks and services for other people through your work (paid and unpaid), fulfilling responsibilities to the people who depend on you.

Without disturbing this growing image of a light filled web among all these different people and groups, take two or three deep, slow breaths. As you breath in, reflect on your gratitude for what you receive. As you breath out, breath out this gratitude as a living, glowing light that illuminates the thread-like connections between yourself and others, and along every other route of connection in this great, human web.

Now we invite you to, while still holding this glowing web in your awareness, begin to think of three types of intentions: 1) What do you want for yourself? 2) What do you want for the other people who occupy this web? 3) What do you want for the world (human and more-than-human) within which we are all immersed?

Continue to focus on your breathing, and spend time with each of these three intentions. As you breath in, think about what it is that you want for yourself. Savor this as long as feel right, and then on an outbreath, breath these intentions out into the light filled web.

On a different in breath, think about what you want for each of these people with whom you share these vital connections. Breath with these intentions for as long as you like, and then on an out breath release them out into this web of connections.

Finally, on a different in breath, shift your focus to the things that you want for the world. Environment, social justice, a caring society … whatever your heart felt intentions are, savor them, reflect on them, and then on an outbreath, breath these intentions into this light filled web of connections.

At this point, we invite you to consider for a moment the power that lies in the connections you have just visualized and filled with breath, intention, and light. Think about what it would mean for this network you’ve called to mind if each of these connections represented unbreakable, human solidarity – shared goals, shared purpose, respect for our different needs and social positions, and the commitment to fight for one another and fight, together, for the whole.

This is solidarity.

Notice whatever you are feeling in your body. Notice any emotions that are coming up. Notice what thoughts arise. And then we invite you to let the image of this web fade (or fall into the ground) as you send these intentions out as a prayer. You may want to consciously send your breath down into the ground for a little while to ground yourself. You may also want to say a prayer, in whatever way is right for you, for guidance in your day to day life as to how best you can build and support the kind of solidarity we all need at this time.

Once the meditation is complete, you may find it helpful to move your body, stretch, get a drink of water or bite to eat. Something to ground yourself further.

We also invite you to spend time (shortly after the meditation, or later the same day) expressing what came up for you – through journaling, drawing, creating art, finding something on your walk that expresses solidarity for you, or finding something in your room (a picture, a book, an object).

If you want to place what you wrote, created, found on your altar, go for it. If you want to share it with someone important to you, go for it. If you want to share it with the group doing this course together (we’ll get a Facebook page up for you soon; you may also take a picture and share it during our next call), do what feels right for you.

Thank you for helping us all build up the power of solidarity, against supremacy systems and for collective liberation.

Solidarity Altar

This is an altar activity you can do in conjunction with the meditation or on it’s own.

The mediation asked us to think about people who are in different positions of the economy and in society then us. To imagine what connects us in solidarity and builds our power for collective liberation. For this activity, get something to write with and a piece of paper. We are focusing on what it feels like, what it looks like, what comes up, imagining yourself getting free. On the first call, someone shared that they often work for social change, for collective liberation, but rarely include themselves in their vision, in their thinking.

This is an opportunity to put yourself, personally, into your vision of collective liberation. Allow space for whatever emotions, thoughts, images come up and be kind and curious. Jot down or draw whatever you’d like to come back and reflect on, or just stay present. Once you’re ready, write on your piece of paper your response to “When I include myself in my vision of collective liberation, it feels like… it looks like… and I want it because…”.

For some of us our responses will be about us specifically in our own lives, for some of us it will be significantly about our families (blood and chosen), and that is beautiful too. If you do think of others (grandchildren, siblings, parents, beloveds), also think about how you feel when thinking about them free, when you think about living in a better and healthier world.

Place what you have written onto your altar and give it a word, phrase, blessing of intention – “may it be so”, “with all our power”, “for the love of all people and the Earth”, “and so on.

Over the coming weeks, if you find it helpful, stop by your altar and take a deep breathe in and out, gathering and feeling the power of solidarity and collective liberation that your altar is generating.

Solidarity Actions

Below is a short, non-comprehensive list of some actions you might want to take (or be inspired by) as a way of acting in solidarity with others at this time. With the exception of the mutual aid network protocols, the activities we have compiled are US based; we hope those of you in other countries will look for similar opportunities to take immediate, time based actions in support of justice and equity in your area.

Demand “A People’s Bailout.” Write to your member of congress to demand this plan endorsed by hundreds of social movement organizations that calls for a bailout of everyday people and the most vulnerable, not the wealthiest among us. 

Take action: Farm Workers left out of COVID-19 federal aid | United Farm Workers – email your Congress Members today

Showing Up for Racial Justice has three types of actions you can tap into now to push for immediate decarceration in the midst of the pandemic:

1) 1000 Conversations for Decarceration: Phone banking to help us have 1000 conversations with folks across the country.  These phone banks have been transformative for people involved both making the calls and also people who are receiving the calls.  Join us to reach our goal and build up our base! To participate copy paste into browser: bit.ly/Call2FreeThemAll

2) Detention Release Now Phone Zap: In one hour on our first phone zap we had 475 actions taken to challenge ICE Directors, and other power holders to release people from immigration detention. Join this effort to make calls to targets to #FreeThemAll from detention. (Thanks to the Immigration working group for organizing this) To participate copy paste into browser: bit.ly/SURJFreeThemAll

3) #FreedomFridays:  Join in the collective actions people are taking across the country including car caravans, phone zaps/call in days, and virtual candle light vigils to push for people to be released from jails, prisons and detention centers. To participate copy paste into browser: bit.ly/freedomfridaysmay

One Fair Wage emergency fund – donate to help provide cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more

Support the National Domestic Workers Alliance by donating to an emergency assistance fund that allows domestic workers to stay home and healthy.

Donate to No Kid Hungry, a fund supporting school districts and nonprofits to feed schoolchildren at this time. 

Check out one of the following resources if you’d like to build a mutual aid network in your area:


Homework Assignment for Session Four / May 31

The focus of Session Four will be on solidifying our shared understanding of what an intersectional, solidarity-based approach to social change looks like, and then supporting one another (with ample Q&A time with facilitators) in thinking through how to apply and engage the work of this course to our own lives and work. This is a longer homework assignment, so we hope you’ll allow adequate time! Likely 3 hours total.

STUDY

The study portion of this final homework assignment is kinda jam-packed … ;). For this reason, we’ve attempted to break things down into smaller pieces that allow for different degrees of engagement, including optional resources, strongly suggested resources, and options to choose from. We’ve also broken each section of study down with estimated time to complete that section, to help you better manage your time.

Historic & Contemporary Examples of Multiracial Unity (30-45 min total time)

Political Strategy (5-25 min total time)

Power of Labor (30-60min total time)

Apply & Engage (30-45 min suggested time)

We have prepared a non-comprehensive list of organizations or initiatives for you to spend time exploring as you consider concrete ways for you to deepen or step into your own involvement in the work of social change. Please take some time to explore these, considering what you might want to come back to after the course ends. We do not expect you to read, watch or listen to everything in this section before Session Four.

Community Organizing:

Progressive or socialist challenges to corporate political control:

Organizing Strategies:

 

***Please skip ahead to your ACTIVITIES section, at the end of Deeper Study (which includes topic-related resources you may want to look at at another time) and ensure you make time for completing the Personal Assessment activity before Session Four. Thanks!

Deeper Study

Taking action together

Additional historical examples

Neoliberalism

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ACTIVITIES

We’ve given you three activities for your consideration between now and our fourth session: a personal assessment re solidarity-based work; a contemplative altar practice; and a love letter to help build a culture of love, gratitude and solidarity.

You may complete all of them, or just one or two. Remember that you can return to these activities after the course is complete.

Regardless of what else you choose to do, please complete the Personal Assessment exercise before Session Four. We will be working with the fruits of this exercise in our session. Thanks!

Engaging in Solidarity-Based Work: Personal Assessment (20-60 min)

Please do your best to complete this assessment before our final live session, as we will using break out time and whole group discussion time to work with the questions and material that comes out of this process for you.

As you work with the study portion of your assignment (particularly the “Apply & Engage” section) and consider other types of solidarity-based, social change work we didn’t include here, we encourage you to make a personal assessment of externally focused work that you are engaged in or want to be engaged in. You might want to write out each question on a sheet of paper or copy-paste them into a digital document, and then make a list underneath each one of everything that might apply. 

  1. What work are you already involved with? Or what type of work might you want to be involved with? Consider things you might do on your own, as part of an activist network, progressive organization or faith community, or via collective action in your workplace. 
  2. What unique interests, passion, skills, or sphere of influence do you bring to this work?
  3. How much time do you give, or how much time to do you have to give? If you are looking to begin work you aren’t already engaged in, what times are you available for additional activities you aren’t already involved in, or how might you integrate the work of social change into something you are already involved with? If you are already active, do your activities feel sustainable, or does anything need to shift?
  4. What type of interactions or experiences do you need to have in order to be nourished by your work for social change? in order for you to stay involved?
  5. How can the work of this class (related specifically to solidarity and intersectionality) inform, influence, or ground your work for social change?

After responding to each question, consider what form of support you might want during Session Four. Are there questions you have that you think the facilitators or other course participants could provide some advice or insight into? Are there resources you need access to? Do you feel blocked anywhere? Would you like a sounding board in your process for committing to specific activities of social change? Do you need help thinking through first steps? Etc.

Personal Assessment & Solidarity Altar Activity

As you consider these questions, you might want to integrate them into an altar practice. Start by grounding yourself simply – by taking a few deep breaths, noticing the weight of your body and your literal connection to the earth, attuning yourself to your altar and the space it is in via each of your senses, etc. If you have a candle on your altar, or a place to burn incense, or an object that makes a pleasing noise, you might want to light the candle (or burn incense, or use this object) to mark the beginning of your practice.

Next, take a moment to reflect on the work of the class. If one of our meditation practices has been particularly helpful for you, you might want to spend time practicing it or calling it to mind and practicing a small portion of it (such as, reflecting on solidarity and allowing yourself to feel the expansion nature of it in your body, etc).

Now spend time reflecting on the physical objects you have gathered on your altar, one by one, and relate them to the assessment you have completed. You may want to simply gaze at each object, or pick them up and hold them in your hand, or focus on each object in a different way, experiencing these objects through your senses as well as contemplating the ideas connected to them.

Here are our ideas about how you might relate the different objects to your self assessment, though you may certainly have other ideas of your own (and you may also have added additional objects beyond the three we suggested in your first assignment):

Object that represents your family

  • As you focus on the object that connects you to your family, consider who you are in terms of what you have inherited. This involves culture and identity, as well as special things that belong to your family alone – specific relationship, humor, memories, family stories – and expressions of connection that are universal in nature – such as love, connection, pain, longing, and the experience of sharing memories and passing down stories (though the exact memories and stories are specific). 
  • You might take a moment to think about how you and your family are unique AND how you share in a common human experience of life. 
  • You might also think about the power structures of society that we’ve studied in this course, and specific ways that they impact your family, as well as how your family is interconnected to larger experiences of these systems.
  • Close this reflection by considering the strengths you draw from your family, the things that you want for yourself and your family, and anything about your connection to (or estrangement from) family that might motivate you to work for social change. 

Inspiration around the work of collective liberation

  • Reflecting on this object can be a way of grounding yourself in the specific focus you have within social change work (environmental, indigenous solidarity, anti-racism, etc), or within a certain tradition (such as anarchist, communist, civil rights, specific cultural struggles for liberation, etc).
  • Reflect on where you center your own work – or the work that you want to be doing – in the context of traditions and different areas of focus.
  • Reflect on how these traditions or areas of focus are impacted by the power systems we’ve studied in this class, and how they are connected to other movement work that is taking on another aspect of this same power structure.
  • You might close by considering the specific qualities of person or thing your object represents, and what they mean to you. You may want to notice body sensations, emotions and/or stories or images that come to mind as you consider the source of inspiration that you’ve chosen to hold space for on your altar.
  • How does this inspiration bring you joy? How does it sustain you in your own work for social change? How does it help connect you to others, and what qualities of relationship do you aspire to maintain in these connections?

Your occupation or work in the world

  • Remember that our intention for this object is that it holds space for your direct contributions to society. These contributions can include any type of labor that you do that contributes to the larger society, whether paid or unpaid, including such things as: your occupation, your care for family, friends and/or dependents, your involvement within a spiritual or cultural group that maintains important social bonds.
  • Consider how your work in the world is embedded in the economic and social systems we have studied in this course. Consider also the inherent value and sacredness of your labor – completely separate from the monetary value or social status that the capitalist social structure may assign to your labor.
  • Consider the people who depend on you, and upon who you depend. Call to mind some portion of the larger net of connection you may have meditated on in the assignment for Session Three.
  • Finally, consider the deep power that comes from grounding and embedding your work for social change within the work you do that keeps society going – whether this power involves organizing in your workplace, instilling your values in your children, connecting your spiritual or cultural communities to mass struggle for freedom, or something else.

At the end of this reflection, ensure that each item is placed back on your altar in the way you would like it to rest there. You may want to thank and bless these items for holding this type of space for you. You may want to take a moment to let everything you’ve just reflected on simmer within you – potentially making connections between these different areas of life. Allow a certain degree of freedom in your thoughts and emotions, while noticing what shifts, stirs, or arises. Finally, we suggest that you ground the energy of all of this by releasing specific thoughts, focusing on an overall body sensation, imbuing this sensation with thankfulness and your intentions for change, and then sending all of this energy down into the ground beneath you to bear fruit as it will.

If you feel so inclined, you may want to record your experiences or any insights that come out of this altar exercise.

Love Letter

This is an activity to help build a culture of love, gratitude and solidarity. You may want to complete it now or after the course is complete.

As part of building up the social justice movement culture we want, a culture that nourishes and sustains us, a culture that emboldens and empowers, we are going to write love letters.

Think about one or two people who have been incredibly important to you in your development as a person committed to ending supremacy systems and working for collective liberation.  Think about how they have influenced you, supported you, given you insight and courage. 

Now write them a love letter.  This could be a letter you send in the mail, an email, or message through social media.  Let this be a letter that names and explains how they have been awesome, important, meaningful in your life.  Not just a “thanks for being awesome”, but a “here are things I am grateful for, ways you have inspired me, things you have taught me, times you have helped me be the person I am today, the person I want to be.”

If you have more than one person, go for it. But try to write at least one love letter between now and our fourth session OR commit to writing one after the work of the class is complete.

Next Step: Add something to your altar that reminds you of the person you wrote your letter to.  This could be a photo, a piece of art or object that reminds you of them, or writing their name on a slip of paper.  See how it feels in your body to add them to your altar.