Engaging in the work of justice at the same time that we’re trying to cross boundaries of race, class, privilege, and power can be daunting – but also hugely rewarding! Remember the basic notion of accountability as you move into unfamiliar territory:
- Support communities by responding to the needs they express as you are able
- Listen to, invite direction from, and remain accountable to those directly impacted by injustice
- Remember that being a good ally often means stepping back
- Listen, listen, listen!
Keep in mind these elements from the UUA’s Social Justice Empowerment Program Handbook (PDF):
- Accountability requires partnership with and taking leadership from the communities most affected by the issue being worked on.
- When considering a particular project, find out what is already happening in the community and talk to the individuals and group(s) most affected before taking action. Be conscious of the safety of those most at risk.
- Be willing to take a supporting role on issues that do not directly affect us.
- Receive leadership from affected groups.
- Be conscious of how much “space” we take up. Are we listening to or dominating the conversation? Are we showing respect for the work others have been doing, or barraging them with our solutions? Are we believing their stories and perspectives, or asking critical questions to make them prove themselves?
- Partner with organizations recognized as legitimate representatives of the community we are working with, not self-appointed groups.
- Foster awareness of your own and the congregation’s power, privilege, and history both as complicit with the status quo and as resisters and transformative agents.
- Structure meetings and events in a manner that is inclusive and accessible to many different people, including those with special needs.
Get information on becoming a good ally.
Get information on the UUA’s JUUST Change Anti-Oppression Consultancy.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
— Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times