These WORKING ASSUMPTIONS are offered as a philosophical framework, a foundation, for this justice workshop.
1) Oppression is pervasive and hurts us all, but NOT in the same ways.
2) Racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and every form of oppression is both a system of oppression AND a system of advantage.
3) All prejudice was TAUGHT to us, and we resisted this teaching.
If we choose to, we can UN-LEARN it.
4) None of us “invented” oppression; it is a legacy we inherited. Though its creation is not our fault, we must now accept responsibility for our role in its continued existence.
5) All prejudices and oppressions are interwoven and entangled.
6) “There is no hierarchy of oppression.” Trying to rank one group’s pain over another distracts us and prevents us from dismantling any and all oppression.
7) All of us have had the experience as a target of oppression, as well as the experience of privilege.
8) There is no such thing as “passive anti-oppression.” We are either actively working against oppression or we are colluding with it, allowing it to continue in our name.
9) Individuals, organizations and communities can and do grow and change.
10) Our commitment to eliminating all forms of injustice must be a lifelong one.
11) Difference among humans is NOT a deficit. Cultural diversity is a gift.
(1995 - cultural bridges to justice; #6: essay title by Audre Lorde; #1 & 3: adapted from the work of Ricky Sherover-Marcuse; #2: David T. Wellman)