Top 8 Takeaways from Shifting the Lens
Shifting the Lens Recordings Now Available
Shifting the Lens, our annual domestic violence conference, had over 250 registrants. Together, we voiced the importance of taking informed, inspirational risks to serve whole families; approaching our work expansively to stand with survivors at the intersections of racism and gender violence; and approaching our work from a place of justice and love. Please explore our top 8 takeaways below:
The recordings from our conference are now available. Those of you who registered can now watch all the videos, and if you’re interested in watching the conference through recorded videos please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top 8 Takeaways from Shifting the Lens
To end domestic violence, address the systems of oppression as well as their impacts on survivors. Dr. Beth Richie expressed the importance of understanding the links between gender violence and anti-Blackness, making our work multi-dimensional to address all aspects of survivorship: “Anti-violence work must be radical work…not only responding to individual harm. And yes, that work has to be about freedom—not just safety, not just protection, about freedom.” Shalisa Gladney reinforced the power of Black women’s leadership in these efforts: “Black women’s leadership isn’t just about their strength; it’s about how we continuously show up for the common good.”
When education isn’t relevant to the lives of Black, Indigenous and Native, and Youth of Color, it perpetuates inequities that lead to violence. Inclusive, anti-racist education is violence prevention. Marissa Williams explained, “In regular history classes, people of color are not talked about in a positive way. As a Black woman, specifically, the only thing you learn about Black people is that they were [enslaved people]—and everyone in class is looking at you. [In ethnic studies class, I learned] about people of color in a light where they were leading movements, learning about the Zoot Suit riots, etc. Students should attend classes that are different than their own race.”
Colonization continues to cause violence against Native people. Dayna Barrios described how boarding schools ripped children away from their parents, with the goal of erasing Native cultures and languages throughout generations. She also emphasized that connecting with culture heals and prevents violence: “How do we move from a space of surviving to thriving? A lot of times, that’s relearning traditions, it’s being a part of community with Native people, reaching out to our healers and medicine people. Culture is prevention.”
The best way to support youth is to encourage their own leadership and decision-making. Or as one participant put it, “We all need to find new ways to reach youth. What better way than through youth?”. SafeBae Board Member Chalina Morgan-Lopez stated, “If adults were less nervous about letting youth take on these leadership opportunities, we wouldn’t have to protest as much as we do.” Two-thirds of this organization’s board is comprised of youth who determine the direction of the work. Tonjie Reese who discussed prevention as justice in her workshop remarked that we should: “Give young people the opportunity to make mistakes without judgment.”
Creativity and adaptability are keys to success as we move forward. Armando Ruiz used creativity to do prevention work during COVID quarantine by getting curious: he asked youth how they would like to stay connected during the pandemic, and he followed their guidance to create new ways of connecting with them through Minecraft. In her keynote speech, Amanda Gibson reflected on the ways white supremacy in leadership positions has created a false sense of knowing what’s best for survivors and staff. One characteristic of white supremacy is “either/or” thinking, which reduces the complexity of life and the nuance of our relationships with each other. As an antidote to this way of thinking, she encouraged us to use creativity by looking for multiple alternatives and pushing for a deeper analysis.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup” was a common phrase throughout the conference. A reoccurring thread throughout the conference was that supporting staff is crucial to a thriving program. As Yasi Safinya-Davis said, “[bringing margins to center in HR and finance policies] is mission-based work. It does help you align yourself with what you’re intending to do each and every day when you serve people.” It also means equipping staff with training and education on a broad spectrum of issues. Or as Liat Wexler put it “It’s not enough to be trauma informed, we also must be Queer and Trans informed.”
Violence and oppression deeply impact Black queer and trans folx. Kiara Lee shared mindfulness and movement tools that help “reconnect with my body—because oftentimes there’s a disconnection—and really identify moments that it is appropriate and safe and invite comfort back into my body.”
Building equitable workplaces is a part of anti-violence work. Finance and HR are also a part of anti-violence work. Melissa Guajardo emphasized that HR can “change culture[s of HR policies rooted in white supremacy] by intentionally reimagining these practices to be centered on equity and rooted in the humanity of the people who make up our organizations.” Ann King and Nilda Valmores shared that we should prioritize budgets so that they align with the priorities in our work.
We thank you for joining us at Shifting the Lens and for participating in challenging discussions to broaden our viewpoint. And as we take in all this knowledge and look towards a future free of violence, we want to leave you with one crucial question that a participant shared with us: do we have the courage to truly and fully break away and create a path where we can live into our values?
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