(Please do not use photos without the expressed consent of the person photographed.)
On Monday March 11, Beyond the Barricades hosted a forum at The Holdout social center on the topic of anti-repression work. Invited to launch the conversation were folks from The Anti-Repression Committee, the ACAC 19 Support Committee and a member of the “San Francisco 8.” A solid crowd showed up and shared food, informational materials, childcare, and some useful conversation.
Some threads of the conversation included discussion around the necessity for anti-repression work to be more embedded in the general work of organizing rather than the common practice of being relegated to a specific group of people always willing to do the care work. The conversation merged into the gendered nature of anti-repression work and how it often falls on female-bodied folks. The unspoken implication of this phenomenon is that this work is considered less valuable, less revolutionary or less important. This implication, in turn, contributes to the gendered understanding of the work.
Participants at the forum discussed the tendency for anti-repression work to be reactive. Some posited that this is inevitable due to a ceaseless necessity to respond to and push back against repression. At the same time, the most effective anti-repression work changes the nature of repression and vice-versa.
It’s also essential, someone pointed out, to expand one’s understanding of what it means for anti-repression work to include struggle against the repression of folks outside of self-identified Leftist circles. Examples of how this work is happening includes the outreach being done at Santa-Rita and training by the People’s Community Medics. There was conversation of how to strengthen community connections and continuously be engaged with the struggles of people who suffer from daily repression.
The conversation was useful, but limited. Some folks expressed that we should be starting from a place of defining anti-repression and were frustrated by a feeling that we didn’t all have a common understanding, and one woman wrote about her thoughts on the forum. [We encourage you to read it!]
It was great that folks involved with anti-repression work were present, and yet as someone warmly noted after the forum: “This stuff might be new to people who haven’t done anti-repression work for a long time.”
Some questions remain: how do we continue to provide spaces to have useful conversations? How do we increase all types of diversity in the conversation so it doesn’t feel like talking in an echo chamber (not to erase the differences that did exist in the room)? What are truly dynamic conversations to have and how do we make them accessible to the people we think should be having them? These questions remain as we move forward and begin planning for future forums. Stay tuned and check out some resources on anti-repression.