Tiered Anti-Oppression Training is a case study that highlights some successes in provides youth with opportunities to develop an anti-oppressive lens. In particular it highlights the following achievements: recognizing and acknowledging anti-oppressive education as a continual process; bringing in outside facilitation help; taking stock of group and context to help decide how to proceed; and the use of diagnostic tools for assessment.
In our third year of Generating Momentum: Youth Activist Leadership Training Camp (a 3-day camp for 18-30 year olds interested in gaining skills to make change in their communities), we utilized a more responsive model for running anti-oppression training. We knew that providing this training was absolutely essential for participants to better understand power, systemic oppression, privilege, and how to be a good ally. However, in previous attempts, some found these concepts new and overwhelming, while others who were more seasoned wanted to dive deeper into the issues. Camp coordinators also knew that having a strong facilitator was essential, but if there were repeat participants doing the same session, with the same facilitator, it would seem redundant. Additionally, we wanted to make sure every person got the training at the beginning of the three days, but doing anti-oppression with the full group did not leave enough space for shy or introverted participants to get involved.
In order to try and address many of these issues, we decided to run two simultaneous workshops: one that covered the basics of anti-oppression, and the other that went deeper into a few areas, depending on the will of the participants. When registering, we asked youth to self-declare their level of training and understanding, based on a scale we created, and we divided the groups from these identifications. The facilitator of the first group was the same strong, well-organized individual that we had used the year before, and the second facilitator had those same skills and happened to be a colleague of the first. During evaluations of the camp, participants spoke very highly of this split format.
Due to the nature of Generating Momentum (youth living together for three days), doing this training at the beginning is absolutely vital. It teaches us to see the diversity (or lack thereof) in the group or any smaller groups we form. It can teach us how to come to consensus, and to recognize whose voices aren’t being heard. It also creates a foundation for the youth to build a community on — difference is heard and respected, power is acknowledged and dissipated, and we all leave after living for three days in an ideal society that we as activists are trying to recreate.