ICYMI: Building Resilient Organizations

"Executives in professional social justice institutions, grassroots activists in local movements, and fiery young radicals on protest lines are all advancing urgent concerns about the internal workings of progressive spaces," said Maurice Mitchell for The Forge. "The themes arising are surprisingly consistent. Many claim that our spaces are 'toxic' or 'problematic,' often sharing compelling and troubling personal anecdotes as evidence of this. People in leadership are finding their roles untenable, claiming it is 'impossible' to execute campaigns or saying they are in organizations that are 'stuck.'"

"Movements on the Left are driven by the same political and social contradictions we strive to overcome. We fight against racism, classism, and sexism yet battle inequity and oppression inside our movements. Although we struggle for freedom and democracy, we also suffer from tendencies toward abuse and domination. We promote leadership and courage by individuals, but media exposure, social media fame, and access to resources compromise activists. We draw from the courage of radical traditions but often lack the strategy or conviction to challenge the status quo. The radical demands that we do make are so regularly disregarded that it can feel as if we are shouting into the wind. Many of us are working harder than ever but feeling that we have less power and impact. "

"There are things we can and must do to shift movements for justice toward a powerful posture of joy and victory. Such a metamorphosis is not inevitable, but it is essential. This essay describes the problems our movements face, identifies underlying causes, analyzes symptoms of the core problems, and proposes some concrete solutions to reset our course."

"Here are some common tendencies that flow from the larger conditions we find ourselves in and the fallacies underlying those tendencies:"

  • Neoliberal Identity
  • Maximalism
  • Anti-Leadership Attitudes
  • Anti-Institutional Sentiment
  • Cherry-Picking Arguments
  • Glass Houses
  • The Small War
  • Unanchored Care
  • Disproportionality
  • Activist Culture

"We are closer than we think to such a reality. We must go through a humbling but necessary period of change to achieve it. We must learn how to synthesize lessons from the past and observations in the present. That means sitting in an awkward both/and place. We must call out fallacies that weaken us, even when it’s hard and we face criticism for it. And we must meet our problems with grounded solutions that are drawn from a sober assessment of the larger time, place, and conditions we find ourselves in. None of this, of course, will be easy. In fact, much of it will cause great discomfort. However, on the other side of the uncomfortable journey is an abundant, playful, and powerful home for our freedom dreams. Will we choose it?'

Read the full article here.