Two years ago, ADAPT started the difficult process of addressing its own Racism, Sexism, Transphobia, Homophobia, Misogyny, Xenophobia and Ableism, when it established the Intersectional Justice Workgroup. It is a process that has been far from smooth. There have been uncomfortable conversations, shouting matches and plenty of ugly moments. There have also been beautiful moments of honesty, trust, understanding and reconciliation. Dealing with the intersectional oppression that we are all complicit in is never pretty and nor should it be. It is a process that ADAPT committed to, a commitment that must be continued.
Last week, people saw an example of the problems we have been charged with addressing. We are working with that individual to make their own journey, but we remind everyone that no single individual created systemic racism and the entire organization must take steps to address our issues.
People outside of ADAPT have also seen some of ADAPT’s struggle in dealing with its own racism and ableism. We have had equally painful moments in private, as well as moments where we have seen members use the process to start a journey of growth with the aim of doing better.
Creating the workgroup was never the solution to ADAPT’s problems, but it was the path to the solution. Our workgroup is helping the organization to challenge our biases and to question the policies and practices that, whether through intended or unintended consequences, result in harm to those inside and outside our community.
There is no magic bullet that will singlehandedly undermine the oppression within ADAPT. We must go through the long uncomfortable process together. Understanding the complex intersectional nature of oppression means that the process cannot be simplified to answering hate speech, racism or xenophobia. It means that we need to truly challenge and change the way we operate, and examine everything we do to ensure they harm no one.
This change, however, cannot focus on individuals. It must focus on the organization as a whole. ADAPT is 41 years old and the individual members have changed over time. Our structure inherently perpetuated the structural racism of our broader society. Policies and the institutional memory have helped maintain intersectional oppression within ADAPT. Our workgroup has engaged in organizational training and is making specific recommendations to advance our work at our upcoming strategy meeting.
Some would like to go back to the way things used to be with the belief that they were better then, but the continuation of the process begun two years ago is necessary to change ADAPT. ADAPT will not look the same afterwards. It cannot.
We are united with those in ADAPT who work to change themselves and address the bias in our work. We are united with those from other movements who are advancing the cause of intersectional justice. And we know that our unity will strengthen all of our movements.
Now, we ask that people give ADAPT the time and space we need to do our work. We call upon the contact people and chapters to recognize the changes they need to make before calling out others. And we pledge to continue our work to advance the organization’s commitment to intersectional justice.
-Anita Cameron and Josue Rodriguez
ADAPT Intersectional Justice Workgroup Co-Chairs