On Friday, May 19, I attended the Challenger-Healer-Creator (CHC) workshop with some fellow SLS interns. The workshop was held at Trees Atlanta, a nonprofit working to improve Atlanta’s urban forest through conservation and education initiatives, and was led by Afiya and Wekesa Madzimoyo, two storytellers and experts in facilitating authentic communication. This workshop gave some really interesting perspectives and ideas on oppression, especially about the language we use. For the Challenging Oppression section of CHC, Wekesa offered the term injected oppression instead of internalized oppression. Injected oppression provides less blame on the oppressed individual, making them the object, rather than the subject, and insinuating it is another actor who is injecting that oppression. Wekesa mentioned also that this way of thinking gives more room to heal from the wounds of injected oppression.
Another idea presented in the workshop was Storytelling From the Inside-Out (SIO), with a part of this being not using the language given from the outside. Wekesa prompted us to think about how this idea can apply to our own organizations or our own work, and with my current internship, RCE Greater Atlanta’s work with higher education institutions came to mind. There is certainly a more recent movement to change this habit, but a lot of the relationships between institutions and surrounding communities involves storytelling from the outside-in. Georgia Tech has been guilty of this in the past, and I hope the institution is able to fully acknowledge this, especially within its upcoming expansions, to repair community relations. SIO for higher education institutions could look like recognizing past mistakes, trusting community members as experts, or Asset Based Community Development, where assets already existing in communities are emphasized, instead of just focusing on problems seen by outsiders. The CHC workshop provided a lot of tools for healing the wounds of oppression and how to bring those tools into your work, and I’d encourage those working in community engagement at higher education institutions to attend any similar opportunities!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University System of Georgia, or the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.