I had an opportunity to attend the national A CALL TO MEN Conference in Minnesota this year. These are just a few notes I managed to jot down from the morning keynote talk by Dr. Beth Ritchie Director, Institute of Research on Race & Public Policy, University of Illinois – Chicago
Intersectionality has to be the framework we’re using when addressing violence. We need an antiracist, queer positive, class informed community involved vision of what ending gender violence looks like.
Shift the discussion about oppression and masculinity in a fuller way. We have to think beyond what we usually talk about. Beyond counseling, support groups, peer education, trainings, etc.
If we talk about love, we will do antiracist work. we will do queer organizing. Talking about love means talking about inclusion. Our political work will be about finding love.
When we talk about love, that means we also have to talk about pain, and many of us have been hurt. In many instances, these are not academic discussions. Bring that pain as well as the work we have done to resist that pain to this room; to this work.
Consider the idea of violence as a tool that is used to suppress love. Example of efforts to control: Limit protests of NFL players and Black Lives Matter activists, anti-reproductive rights legislation, islamaphobia, erosion of sexual violence programs, etc. Violence is used to sanction the dehumanization of people. Police say we can use violence against Black people because they are dangerous. Batterers say we can beat others because they aren’t good partners.
Violence is the result of the hatred of people who are really just trying to be free.
How love improves the work for justice in the face of hatred: Loving those who are most vulnerable becomes our entry way into working for justice. It makes our work stronger. We must bring justice to those who have been most marginalized, so they can live their lives fully.
“Every one of us must decide to be our true selves, or true the the cruel, mean world we live in.” Every person must decide whether to settle for invisibility or compliance and the rewards that come from that, or to fight for love.
Men need to be engaged in the process of radical love. Fearless, self-reflective authenticity that must be boldly on the side of freedom. The kind of love that works against hate in all its forms.
Authentic and radical love are connected to the work of real masculinity. Power at its best, is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best, is power correcting everything that stands against love.
What we need is love motivated by justice. Radical, authentic, accountable love.
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones
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