IFG UPDATE: Week 4/5 – What Do I Do? & Mixed IFG

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Lilla Watson – Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia.

For the past two weeks in IFG, we used the mindfulness tools we’ve learned in previous sessions and finally put them into practice. During Week 4 in our session What do I do? we analyzed racist and LGBTQI related microaggressions that occurred within the program in the past and discussed our roles as bystanders in those scenarios. In groups, we answered the following questions:

  • What is happening in the scene?
  • Who is being affected and how?
  • Who is benefitting (either individually or structurally?)
  • What would you ideally do? vs. What would you probably do? 

Whether it was race or LGBTQI related, it was generally easier to understand what was happening in the scene as well as why it was problematic. However, it was a bit more challenging to answer the last question, and more specifically, what was keeping us from doing what we would ideally like to do in the first place?

We explored this question more during Mixed IFG where we discussed other scenarios through the framework Right Mind vs Right Action. If we have the Right Mind, or the the right awareness and intention to intervene, why haven’t we been able to engage in Right Action, or the appropriate intervention required of us in each of these scenarios?

We talked about how what often keeps people in privileged positions from intervening is not only the fear of facing temporary discomfort, but actually the inability to understand that these incidences are not just happening to the person being targeted, but they are happening to everyone, including you. If we only intervene because we feel bad for the person who is being affected, we are not conscious of how we’re directly implicated in allowing oppressive actions like these to continue.

This is the difference between sympathizing with your friend who just experienced racism and being directly angry that you witnessed racism at all. Many well-intentioned, empathetic people in positions of power are say they are unsure about how to respond “appropriately” in these scenarios. However, it’s not they lack of understanding what is wrong, but it’s because they’re attempting to act on behalf of people in marginalized positions. But if you act for yourself because you truly understand oppression affects all of us including you, how to transition between Right Mind and Right Action becomes a lot more clear. 

READ
“I Need an Accomplice, Not an Ally”
“I want someone to do more than just feel for me. I want someone to do more than just listen to my pain. I want someone to be more than an ally, I want them to be an accomplice.” -L. Follins

“Accomplices not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex”
“The risks of an ally who provides support or solidarity (usually on a temporary basis) in a fight are much different than that of an accomplice. When we fight back or forward, together, becoming complicit in a struggle towards liberation, we are accomplices.”

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