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Resisting “Othering” and Building Joy: Six Actions to Take Today

By Luna Allen-Bakerian, race equity and public policy strategist, YWCA Minneapolis
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In our culture, “othering is modeled and maintained as an acceptable function of the status quo.

To “other” is to treat or consider a person or a group of people as intrinsically different to oneself or one’s group. But othering goes beyond individual beliefs and actions, beyond separation and classification. It is embedded in our fabric, in our societal structures and practices – from how we handle immigration, to the composition of our prison populations, to the rhetoric of our government.

Othering Builds Walls and Contributes to Violence

When we build our lives around this practice of othering, we are building walls and contributing to systems of oppression and violence. Our current state of affairs is filled with acts of hate: racist, nativist and anti-immigrant practices; and sustained systemic and structural oppression. Othering is deadly.

Bearing Witness and Taking Action

For all of us who hold privilege, be it from race, gender, class, education, ability, religious expression – we must acknowledge that we do not hold all of the answers and that our lived experiences are not universal. We must continue to bear witness to the state of the world and not tune out as unjust history plays out again in real-time. We must take action to tear down these walls.

Joy for All is the Goal

Politics and systems of othering are robbing people of joy.

Joy for all is the goal; and joy in the present can serve as resistance to oppression.

YWCA’s mission is a bold one: eliminate racism, empower women and girls, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. This means rebuilding in nearly all ways. This work is beautiful and it is very difficult and it will take a long time. Some days it feels impossible, but we keep at it, as we must.

Programs to Mobilize and Empower

Through our Racial Justice and Public Policy programs, we commit to spending the next year on these policy goals:

  • Using an education project to mobilize for the 2020 census so that everyone counts
  • Working with state and local government to pursue an equity-based advocacy agenda
  • Serving as a resource for the 2020 elections and policy work

Our work seeks to fight against the forces of othering in governance and policy by empowering people in our community, like you. A politics of equity, inclusivity, reparation, restoration and love will crack open a well of infinite joy. But we have a long, long way to go. Liberation begins with listening and learning. Join us!

Six Action Steps to Take Today:

  1. Think about the ways you might be contributing to othering narratives and actions
  2. Learn about the critical 2020 census
  3. Register to vote
  4. Register for an upcoming racial justice workshop or It’s Time to Talk: Forums on RaceTM
  5. Communicate with our elected officials on an issue that is important to you
  6. Read, remember and honor the great American author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison

Learn More about YWCA Racial Justice and Public Policy Programs

Sign up for Public Policy Updates