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Workplaces & War Zones: Recognizing the conditions that promote violence

Written by Jessica Lawmaster Edited by Adana Protonentis At Kindred, liberation is our north star. Over the past month of escalating violence in the Middle East, we have been speaking up against increasing antisemitism and Islamophobia, as well as voicing our solidarity for Palestinian liberation. We’ve been sorting through resources, turning to trusted leaders, following the news, and holding space to feel the grief that is so heavy. As we listen to, learn from, and elevate the knowledge of those most impacted by what’s happening, it feels clearer than ever that all oppression is connected.

We are reminded of the question we always come back to… “What are the conditions?” What conditions make this violence possible? What infrastructures are at play in justifying so much terror? What scaffolding has been reinforced to allow us to turn on each other during such heartache? What are the conditions that leave us feeling so desperately powerless?

These are questions all of us can and should practice asking. These questions are productive. They help us untangle the web and get to the root. The closer to the root we get, the closer we are to dreaming, co-creating, and actualizing the conditions for liberation.

As I have been reflecting on conditions while reading the news and scrolling social media, I have been recognizing how systems, governments, and institutions across the country and world are engaging in very familiar behaviors…behaviors that we see every day in businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropy… behaviors that abuse power, manipulate truth, and exploit the pain of others.

Regardless of where these tactics play out, it is critical that we notice them, name them, and actively resist or challenge them. As a (hopefully) helpful exercise, I’ve compiled some examples below of some of these dynamics (current and historical) and what they look like on both an organizational level and a national or global level.

What parallels are you noticing? What dynamics feel familiar to you? What tips do you have for staying vigilant in the information you are consuming? We would love to hear from you about your insights and experiences.

* Structural Gaslighting Nora Berenstain (in her article, “White Feminist Gaslighting”) uses the term "structural gaslighting” to refer to “any conceptual work that functions to obscure the nonaccidental connections between structures of oppression and the patterns of harm that they produce and license.” Berenstain indicates that people partake in structural gaslighting when "they invoke epistemologies and ideologies of domination that actively disappear and obscure the actual causes, mechanisms, and effects of oppression.”

** Bothsidesing

Bothsidesing refers to the media or public figures giving credence to the other side of a cause, action, or idea to seem fair or only for the sake of argument when the credibility of that side may be unmerited. The term is also used to describe public figures equivocating about a seemingly condemnable action saying that people on both sides are equally responsible for that action. (Merriam Webster)

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