Intersectional Inclusion: Perspectives from the Resistance Manual

Jon Pincus
Jun 18, 2017 · 3 min read
Resistance Manual - A Project by Stay Woke
Resistance Manual - A Project by Stay Woke

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**:

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.]

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

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!

*** some of the activism-focusd wikis I helped create back in 2006–2009 include Get FISA Right, #p2 and the no-longer-available Stop Real Id Now and Voter Suppression Wiki pages.

**** 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.


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