This overview was written in 2017 by Indivisible volunteers. The information contained in here is still important and is occasionally reviewed to ensure resource do not go out of date
Inclusion: Our Struggles Are Indivisible
Why is inclusion so important?
Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 was shocking to many of us, but it did not come out of nowhere. It could only have happened in a society that has consistently devalued the lives and dignity of historically marginalized groups, such as people of color, immigrants, queer people, religious minorities and women. This means that resistance cannot consist just of fighting back against the extremist agenda. Rather we have to work to overturn the patterns of injustice that are helping extremists rise to power.
Therefore, a core Indivisible principle is that we must model the value of inclusion in our work and challenge efforts to silence the voices of people who have been marginalized or excluded. As we acknowledge the injustices that have brought us to this point we are committed to building groups and partnerships that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive. This is an investment in the durability and solidarity of our communities and in the efficacy of our work. And it is a rejection of the idea that any of us deserves to remain vulnerable or to be left out of the conversation.
This is a particularly important principle for those of us within the Indivisible family who have more social or economic advantages due to our race, class, or gender, for instance, because—whatever our personal beliefs and convictions—we are the ones who have benefited from historic systems of oppression. At the same time, inclusion is not a favor that those of us with more power or standing offer to those of us with less. It is a partnership between everyone to overturn the patterns of injustice that affect us all to varying degrees, either directly or indirectly. After all, if we are one nation, indivisible, then our lives and our struggles are indivisible as well.
In short, inclusion is an affirmation of the principle, articulated by Aboriginal activists from Queensland, that my liberation is bound up in yours.
What does inclusion look like?
Minimally, inclusion is inviting and ensuring access, a safe and welcoming environment, partnership opportunities, and leadership for people of all backgrounds, communities, and identities. This might relate to a person’s race, ethnicity, nationality, religious identity, immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, health (including mental health), socioeconomic status—and/or how these and other facets of identity interact.
Centering the leadership of marginalized communities
It’s common for people to claim that they’re speaking for the voiceless. But in the words of Arundhati Roy, “There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” The job of an advocate is not to speak for a marginalized group. It’s to ensure that when marginalized groups and leaders are speaking, everyone is listening, and that their messages are understood and amplified. The voices, experiences, and leadership of those most affected by the extremist agenda, and systems of oppression more broadly, must be central to our work.
Thus, inclusion can mean different things in practice. It can mean being mindful of the power dynamics that operate during meetings or events. It means making your own group as diverse as your community, while promoting diversity in leadership. It also means reaching out to existing community groups that have been working on racial justice, immigrant rights, poverty, women’s rights, environmental justice, disability rights, and LGBTQIA+ rights, understanding their priorities and how you can support them, and inviting them to join you in developing and participating in your congressional advocacy efforts (forming partnerships and other concrete steps will be discussed in greater detail below).
Inclusion makes us stronger
Inclusion can be a source of strength, flexibility and endurance. Simply put, we sharpen our analysis by adding more perspectives. We increase our efficacy by drawing upon more networks, organizations, and resources. Recognizing the variety of experiences beyond our own humbles us and allows us to be nimble and responsive in moments of crisis. Inclusion also offers a reminder to each other that none of us is in this alone.
Inclusion requires leadership, humility, patience, love and courage, which we know are abundant among our Indivisible family. It also requires an intentional effort. Many Indivisible groups may not reflect the demographics of their local communities. Creating a movement that is inclusive across its outreach, membership, leadership, partnerships, group dynamics, analysis, and actions will take a lot of work. We are fighting not just to defeat the extremist agenda but also the systemic injustice and hateful ideas that propelled those on the extreme right to power in the first place. Together, we have the chance to ensure that in building a multi-racial inclusive movement we also help build the nation that we believe in: an America that finally fulfills its promise of liberty, equity, and justice for all.