Workshop on Non-Violence Part 2

7. To continue here are some more things to think about.

a) Have you ever worn uncomfortable clothing-heels, or clothes that felt too tight or too revealing?
b) Have you ever felt you were not pretty or handsome enough?
c) Have you ever felt you were not feminine or masculine enough?
d) Have you ever had an eating problem?
e) Have you ever been on a diet or exercised to change your body size, or body shape or weight?
f) Have you ever felt less important than a man?
g) Have you ever pretended to be less intelligent than you were to protect another person's ego?
h) Have you ever pretended not to like school to be acceptable to another person?
i) Were you ever afraid to speak or felt ignored because one group was doing all the talking?
j) Have you ever felt limited in what careers were open to you?
k) Have you ever earned less than another person for doing equal work?
l) Have you ever been sexually pressured by someone in your workplace or school?
m) Were you ever yelled at, commented upon, whistled at, touched or harassed by a man in a public place?
n) Were you ever lied to by someone, so s/he could get what s/he wanted?
o) Have you ever been called a #@$%, #@$% or #@$%?
p) Have you ever limited your activities or changed your plans to go somewhere out of fear for your physical safety?
q) Have you ever been afraid of someone else's anger?
r) Have you ever said "yes" to someone, out of fear of saying "no"?

What does all this have to do with power, non-power, oppression and violence?

It is important to know that our differences do not cause violence, but they are often used to justify it. We must not let that happen.

8. Here's more...
a) Were you or your ancestors forced to move because of your race, ethnicity or financial problems?
b) Have you ever heard people saying that you or your people should leave or go back from where you came from?
c) In your family, as a child, were you the one who had to act as a go between for your parent/s and store clerks or social workers of schoolteachers, etc., because of language or other differences?
d) Were you ever called names or made fun of by someone you didn't know because you were of a different race, religion, ethnic group or social class background than they were?
e) Were you ever put down by someone who has more power than you?
f) Have you ever been told by someone from a different background than yours that you are "different" from other people who come from your same background? In other words, you're "okay" because you're special?
g) Were you ever told that you didn't act Black, Latino, Asian, Arab, White or Indian enough, or that you acted too much that way?
h) Have you ever received less than full respect, attention, or care from a doctor, police officer, court official, city official, or other professional because of your race or class or ethnic background?
i) Have you ever seen your race or ethnic group portrayed on television or in the movies in a bad way?
j) Have you ever tried to change the way you spoke or looked or acted to avoid being judged or made fun of because of your race or ethnic group?
k) Were you ever told that you couldn't pursue your goals because no one from your race or ethnic background has?
l) Were you ever mistrusted or accused of stealing, cheating or lying because of your race, your ethnic or social background?
m) Did you ever suspect that someone was afraid of you because of your ethnic or racial background?
n) Were you ever stopped by the police on the street because of your racial or ethnic group?
o) Were you ever refused employment because of your race, religion or ethnic background?
p) Were you ever paid less, treated less fairly, or given harder work than a person from a more powerful group in a similar position?
q) Were your religious or cultural holidays not recognized on your job or at your school and meetings and work time were scheduled during that meeting?
r) Was your family ever refused housing or was discouraged from applying for housing because of your racial or ethnic background?
s) Did you ever felt odd, uncomfortable, or alone in a group because you were the only member or your race or ethnic background?
t) Did you ever felt uncomfortable or angry about a remark or joke made about your race, religion, family background or ethnicity, but didn't feel safe enough to speak our about it?
u) Did you ever felt threatened by violence because of your race, religion, or ethnic group?
v) Were you, close friends or family ever a victim of violence because of your race, religion or ethnic group?
w) Did you grow up in a house where you heard "putdowns" or jokes told about other races, religions or ethnic groups?
x) Were you ever told not to play with kids different from you when you were a kid?
We have learned a lot over the years about how different we are from one another. Each of us has had experiences of being "different". All of us live in both power and non-power groups. Each of us knows what it's like to be in power sometimes and what it's like to have someone have power over us. It is important when we are in power to treat those who are not in power decently. It is important for us to build a fairer world where power is shared more equally.
We learn too often in this world that power means "power over" and that if we are targets of violence in one area, the easiest way to deal with it is to find a place where we have power over someone else, and pass the pain we feel on to them. For example, if grownups yelled at you and hit you a lot as a kid, then you are bounded to take it out on someone younger or smaller than you.
We take pain and turn it against one another. Meanwhile, we don't really feel any better either because many of us have come to believe that we got all the pain in the first place because we were no good. And we feel like we don't deserve good treatment either because of this. And if we think about it, many of the same hurts are done to people in different non power groups- women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled, etc....

If we grow up being put down and taught lies about who we are, we come to believe the lies.
So people learn over time to feel bad about themselves and everyone else who is in their non-power group. We need to help ourselves and each other get over these bad feelings.

We need to work together, when each of us in our power roles agrees to be an ally to people in non power groups, refusing to accept misinformation about and mistreatment of them, and always work at working together rather than splitting everyone apart, we can make things more just and fair and peaceful.