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  • Writer's pictureTamir Novotny

Introducing "Building an Equity Container"

Ahimsa Strategies and Satori are pleased to share our latest offering: Building an Equity Container, a workshop hosted by Equity in The Center. This workshop hones in on an aspect of equity work that often goes unaddressed – Relationships. It is also a major milestone for us in over three years of collaborative work focused on the question: How can multiracial organizations dismantle their internal white supremacy without falling apart themselves in the process?

As a sector, we’ve invested millions of dollars, countless hours and unquantifiable energy to make our organizations more equitable. That work has had mixed results. On top of that, many people involved in that work – especially people of color – experience real harm. Leaders of color often report feeling drained, hurt and taken advantage of in this work. White folks can fall into spirals of guilt, shame and defensiveness. Even groups with strong racial justice analyses and demonstrated commitment to equity can fall into patterns of dysfunction and toxic conflict.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean equity work is wrong. If we’re going to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice, we can’t just ignore oppression in our organizations. That said, if we can’t even be together in equity work, how are we supposed to change the world?

This challenge has led Niki and Tamir (the principals of Satori and Ahimsa, respectively) to focus our work on the concept of the equity container, or holding environment for equity work. An equity container is a set of relational conditions that allow groups to be courageous, caring and creative with one another as they seek to unpack dynamics of oppression in their organizations and reimagine how they operate in order to advance equity. We believe that groups with strong containers have:

  • Alignment around their core vision and purpose (even if they often don’t agree about how best to advance that vision)

  • Agreement on how power operates and is distributed across team members

  • Shared commitments and deliberate practices around healthy conflict, accountability and solidarity.

These conditions, and the ways that team members live into them every day, can create the trust and safety that team members need in order to be vulnerable and authentic, speak and receive uncomfortable truths, and work through harm and conflict. Without these conditions, teams will fight about everything except the things they really need to fight about – and our organizations’ complicity in oppression and inequity will persist.

In Building an Equity Container, we will:

  • Go deeper on what equity containers look like

  • Offer a tool to help participants assess the state of their teams’ equity containers, and

  • Hold space for peers to support one another in reflecting on what’s happening on their teams and making action plans to strengthen their teams’ container.

Building an Equity Container launches on November 1st, hosted by Equity In The Center. We hope to see you there! Our deep gratitude to all of those who have engaged with and supported this work to date.

Learn More About Equity Containers

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