In the facilitator and trainers’ circles we inhabit here in the UK there’s an ongoing conversation on facilitating diversity in groups and movements and supporting those same groups and movements with training to help them deal with difference in all it’s forms. Fortunately it’s more than just a conversation – it’s a living experiment with some successes and some failures and some forums for sharing both.
Various training collectives are offering such training drawing on different sources of information and inspiration and using various names. Some refer to it as “anti-oppression” work, some as “power and privilege” training, others “diversity” training and so on. A lot of the learning seems to be coming from the States or from the States via Australia – organisations such as Training for Change and The Change Agency.
Twice in recent weeks I’ve heard it referred to as “liberation” work – first on the People & Planet website and then again whilst working with Liverpool Guild of Students. A student connection…. I’ve always liked the idea of liberation struggles – whether women’s lib, animal liberation or whatever. They go beyond the notion of mere ‘rights’ campaigns to something deeper, more inherent, profound and not dependent on the permission of other people/species. And in the thinking and feeling of liberation is the notion of interdependence – that we’re all entwined in the same struggle and that none of us will be fully liberated until we’re all liberated.
For me this allows us to transcend the hierarchy of oppression that much of the power and privilege conversation seems to reinforce – everyone scrabbling to point up the pyramid and blame someone more oppressive than they are, without seeing how divisive and ultimately oppressive that is in itself. It’s more subtle, more connected, deeper, and ultimately more compassionate, co-operative and less violent.
I spoke with Gill for half an hour or so recently and recorded that call. We hope to have an audio file uploaded soon once we figure out whether we need to edit it down to a more manageable size or not. One of the questions she asked as we stopped recording was what happened to the training that was around in the UK 20-30 years ago which, from what I’ve heard and seen, was more in tune with liberation. Good question, and one we’ll explore on the blog in due course. As always we’d like to hear your experience, thoughts and feelings. You know where we are.
In the meantime, here’s to Liberation facilitation in all its forms.