Intersectional Inclusion: Perspectives from the Resistance Manual
I first ran into Resistance Manual co-founder Aditi Juneja on Twitter, in a thread started by Anil Dash. At the time, the only people who had interviewed her about Resistance Manual were women. After I offered to break the pattern*, it turned into a three-part series on Civicist**:
- Building an Intersectional Movement introduces the Resistance Manual, describes its structure and how it fits into the movement ecosystem.
- How to Make Inclusion and Intersectionality Real looks at techniques for operationalizing these principles
- Strategy and Sustainability in Uncertain Times takes a step back and looks to the future
One of the reasons I was so interested in talking to Aditi is that I’ve been fascinated by wikis for years.*** Even more than that, though, I wanted to understand the perspectives of an grassroots organization co-founded by the Black Lives Matter activists of Stay Woke that explicitly took an intersectional view. [If intersectionality is an unfamiliar concept to you, here’s some background.]
Intersectionality: definitions, videos, and links
From Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and more
Resistance Manual’s perspectives start with the very good reasons they focus on intersectionality. First of all, they themselves lead intersectional lives — as Aditi said to me, she’s a woman of color with disabilities, so her identity is intersectional. And there’s also a key strategic reason. From the interview:
Jon: Why does inclusion matter for Resistance Manual?
Aditi: The more people you can get involved, the more effective we will be. So we focus on removing artificial barriers. Our agenda of equity and justice is not in power in government. What we have is people, so we can’t afford to exclude. That’s our strength, and we can’t treat it cavalierly. We try to avoid creating a hierarchy of activists or prioritizing one kind of activism over another.
Jon: Why is intersectionality a guiding principle for Resistance Manual?
Aditi: In order to have a movement in this moment, we need to be very purposeful about coming out of issue-based silos, and seeing how the issues relate each other. Drawing these connections makes the movement stronger and more sustainable. It helps people form coalitions, and reach out to people they may not have thought of before.
Just as important as the commitment to intersectionality, though, is the intentional approach to ensuring the principle is institutionalized in the organization’s structure and processes. There are several good examples in the interview, for example
- actively looking for multiple intersectional perspectives on issues
- routing information to multiple teams to ensure it’s in the right place as well as being cross referenced appropriately.
- highlighting disparities in impact from policies
- making intersectionality and inclusion everybody’s responsibility, not just assigning it to a specific team****
There’s a lot more detail in in the Resistance Manual’s Shared Principles, Policies and Community Guidelines document, such as Community Guidelines that start with
As someone who is part of this community, you agree that:
* We are collectively and individually committed to safety, inclusion, diversity and intersectionality.
And there’s lots of other good stuff there as well. So if you’re in an activist group that’s looking to be more inclusive or take a more intersectional focus, there’s a lot to learn here!
* although Wesley Lowrey wound up beating me to it with Turning away from street protests, Black Lives Matter tries a new tactic in the age of Trump, co-authored with Janell Ross. Still, I think I’m the first guy to interview Aditi specifically about RM, so that counts for something :)
** Thanks to Jessica McKenzie for the editing help!
**** echoing a lesson from the computer security space. Organizations that see security as “the security team’s job” are much less effective than companies that see security as everybody’s job, with the security team as experts.
Originally published at A Change Is Coming.