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Learn & Unlearn: Anti-racism Resource Guide

Lesson 8: Power

Original post on @saic.maffairs posted 9/19/2020.

Foundation: Power

Power: Its Many Faces?

In having conversations about social justice, we’re really talking about issues of power. Much like the previous topics, Power operates in hidden ways, takes many forms, and is hard to observe.

Power is often associated with control-over. Power is control over material, human, financial, and intellectual resources.
There is power-to, emphasizing individual agency. Power-to shape, and power-to enact change as an individual.
There is power-within, emphasizing pluralism. Power within refers to each individual person, and their motivation “to imagine and have hope; it affirms the common human search for dignity and fulfillment.” 
There is also power-with, emphasizing interdependence. Power-with is rooted in collaboration. Power-with is about building solidarity through collective action. 

Power is dynamic and multidimensional. When we think about power as impenetrable and monolithic, we disregard other sources and forms of power. When we only believe that power is absolute and unyielding, we are denying our capacity to hope, organize, and transform. 


“Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.” - Blaise Pascal

To Research

To Listen

To Watch

To Follow

Emory Douglas @emorydouglasart [Biography]
Patrisse Cullors-Brignac @osopepatrisse
Alicia Garza @chasinggarza
Opal Tometi @opalayo
Dignity and Power Now @DignityandPowerNow
Black Futures Lab @blackfutureslab

To Reflect

Who has power?
How and for what do they use power?
Who or what, gives this group power?
What are your potential sources of power?
What kind of power would it take for organizations to bring about social justice?

Think about a situation that you felt powerful. What feelings or emotions come to mind?
Think about a situation where you felt powerless. What about the situation made you feel powerless?

To Act

Fuel the movement: Use your power to mobilize others. Start with your block and grow from there. [The Breathe Act]