USFT is a national network of student organizations advocating around Fair Trade principles, products, and policies.
what we do
Popular education is:
- rooted in the real interests and struggles of ordinary people;
- overtly political and critical of the status quo;
- committed to progressive social and political change in the interests of a fairer and more egalitarian society;
- its curriculum comes out of the concrete experience and interests of people in communities of resistance and struggle;
- its pedagogy is collective, focused primarily on group learning and development for action.
Anti-Oppressive Fair Trade Organizing
In our experience, these principles and guidelines have been helpful in guiding groups to dig into anti-oppressive organizing more deeply.
Principles of Anti-Oppression
- Power and privilege play out in our group dynamics and we must continually struggle with how we challenge power and privilege in our practice.
- We can only identify how power and privilege play out when we are conscious and committed to understanding how racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other forms of oppression affect each one of us.
- Until we are clearly committed to anti-oppression practice all forms of oppression will continue to divide our movements and weaken our power.
- Developing a anti-oppression practice is life long work and requires a life long commitment. No single workshop is sufficient for learning to change one’s behaviors. We are all vulnerable to being oppressive and we need to continuously struggle with these issues.
- Dialogue and discussion are necessary and we need to learn how to listen non defensively and communicate respectfully if we are going to have effective anti-oppression practice. Challenge yourself to be honest and open and take risks to address oppression head on.
- Promote anti-oppression in everything you do, in and outside of activist space.
- When witnessing or experiencing racism, sexism, etc interrupt the behavior and address it on the spot or later; either one on one, or with a few allies.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. Think about ways to address behavior that will encourage change and try to encourage dialogue, not debate.
- Keep space open for anti-oppression discussions
- Respect different styles of leadership and communication.
- White people need to take responsibility for holding other white people accountable.
- Be conscious of how much space you take up or how much you speak.
- Be conscious of how your language may perpetuate oppression.
- Don’t push people to do things just because of their race and gender, base it on their word and experience and skills.
- Avoid generalizing feelings, thoughts, behaviors etc. to a whole group
- Set anti-oppression goals and continually evaluate whether or not you are meeting them.
- Don’t feel guilty, feel motivated. Realizing that you are part of the problem doesn’t mean you can’t be an active part of the solution!
We believe that social justice and recognizing structures of inequality is integral to our work, therefore, we must be mindful of and challenge the elements of privilege and power not only on a global and societal level, but also within our own organizational structures and ourselves. We strive to build a movement that struggles to understand and to actively combat racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism and other forms of oppression.