Reigning Love: Understanding Oppression, Lifting Diversity
This bi-weekly class will explore the definitions, mechanisms, and history of systemic oppression in its myriad of forms. Whether talking about classism, racism, ageism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and beyond, we live in a world often divided by life experience. It is difficult to understand and talk about and yet the healing of our human race means embracing and learning to do just that. This class will cover some of the newest research on oppression and offer conversations and activities to consider what each of us knows about oppression, diversity, and liberation.
Due to the sensitive nature of this class, this class is by registration only. Participants must be able to attend the first session and miss no more than two of the eight sessions. Classes will be every other Wednesday from 7-8:30 beginning September 9th and concluding on December 15th. There will be occasional assignments that require no more than one hour of preparation per session.
September 9th- Introduction
We will establish some definitions, create a class covenant, and review some case studies.
Homework for next session: Read article on microaggressions:
September 23rd- Microaggressions- The Thousand Paper Cuts of Oppression
We will discuss the basic types of microaggressions, the psychological impact that have on marginalized people and communities, and ways to identify them in our culture.
Homework for next session: Read article on Interculturalism (to be handed out in class)
October 7th- Intercultural Awareness- Understanding Cultural Difference
We will explore the basic intercultural developmental model and consider where we may be and what this model can teach us about our world.
Homework: Read chapter from Lillian Smith’s book Killers of the Dream (handed out in class) and explore the “Things White People Like” website.
October 14th- Power Dynamics: Who is Given Privilege and Why?
As we grow in our understanding of systemic oppression, we begin to explore the notion systemic power. How is power created? Can we overcome it? What does it mean to be an ally?
October 21st- Seeing the System Around Us: An Exercise In Awareness
PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ATTEND THIS DAY. We will engage in a group activity to increase awareness of our own social location. This is a deeply personal and powerful activity. We will spend the entire time focused on exploring our experiences of this activity and what we have learned about ourselves.
Homework: Visit the Bechdel Test website (www.bechdeltest.com). Determine one book or movie that you particularly enjoy that passes this test and one that
fails this test to be shared in the next session.
November 4th- Going Deeper: Is Equality Possible Between the Different Genders?
We will explore gender and sexism as an oppression in the 21st century. What has changed? What can we be working on? Why do children as young as three still identify “girl” and “boy activities that are not tied to either gender?
Homework: “A History: The Construction of Race and Racism” by Dismantling Racism Project.
November 18th- Going Deeper: #whoselivesmatter: Racism Will Not Be Over for a Long While
We will explore the power dynamics involved in racism. How was race constructed? What work do we still have to do?
Homework: Read “The Power Chart Revisited” by Paul Kivel (handed out in class)
December 2nd- Making Connections: Intersecting Oppressions
Understanding the complexity of oppression and how they overlap. We will look at the work of Barry Oshry and Paul Kivel to understand how power and oppression are lived out cultural, institutionally, and personally. How is oppression passed on from generation to generation and how might we dismantle it?
Homework: Provide a personal reflection on this question- how might we begin to transform oppressive systems within First Unitarian Church of Alton?
December 16th- The Future: Can We Build the World We Dream About?
We will talk about how to transform oppression through our own agency and the work of the church. Recognizing that transforming oppression and lifting up diversity will take multiple lifetimes, we will focus on what we can do here and now to help support future efforts, as well.