Image Description: A cellphone with a giant angry emoji/emoticon on the screen, lying on top of a wooden surface.
Mabuhay! This Troubleshoot Tuesday, I’m going to briefly talk about what Katherine Cross writes as “call-out culture, purity politics, and the veneration of rage in activist circles” (the link to her article in Feministing is in the transcript to this video). This is a multi-part series because of how huge this topic is.
I am not going to talk about social media scapegoating because these tutorial videos are about supporting folks facilitating workshops and running programming in their schools, communities, and workplaces. I think that the dynamic and nuanced discussion on social media scapegoating and shunning culture is super important, and I’ve offered links below to folks who have a lot to say about it.
In the next few videos I’m going to talk about different strategies to handle rage in participants (and yourself) during a workshop. In this particular video I want to argue in favour of emotions, and in favour of anger, and how to make space for it.
I’ve noticed historically and currently how “being emotional” is equated with “being less than” in regards to feminized people and racialized people, and that anger is only permitted for the masculinized– and white. It’s a tactic of silencing, where a person or people’s pain is minimized or erased by the underlying message that they have no right to be angry at all. Giving space for emotions and anger in our workshops for folks who have been told they are “too angry” and “too emotional” is about validating the pain and trauma that folks have endured under oppressive circumstances.
So how do we make space for these feelings? You can say it openly, right at the beginning of the workshop or discussion. That it’s okay to cry, to get angry, to need to walk out, to ask for space, or a hug, or to shake with fear and anxiety. Talk about your own feelings, how they affect you, how they may express themselves during the workshop. I talk about how sometimes I sing when I’m nervous, and I cry suddenly, and that’s okay to let me cry. That when I get angry, I clench my fists, and I scream into pillows but my voice doesn’t rise.
I think it’s also important to bring this up during the Community Agreements part of your workshop (a video on that coming up soon). I don’t think it’s responsible to hold space for emotions without checking in with everyone about any trauma they’re willing to disclose regarding triggers, as well as agreements made on how to manage conflict and feedback between participants, and if there are support people to check in on folks who step out in the midst of great distress.
Anyway, that’s it for today! Don’t forget to comment on this post with your own concerns and questions, and I’ll be happy to answer and troubleshoot with you any situations that have come up for you in your own work and discussions. Tune in next week for more on The Place of Rage!
- Rhizome Syndrigast Coelacanth Flourishing
- So You’ve Been Publicly Scapegoated: Why We Must Speak Out On Call-out Culture by Katherine Cross
- Boundary Setting vs Tone Policing by Miri
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