Through training and education, the Beyond Diversity Resource Center strives to make our society free of all forms of oppression (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, antisemitism, ethnocentrism, heterosexism, transphobia, etc.).
At the Beyond Diversity Resource Center, we believe that to address diversity issues well, we must do two things: (1) focus on cultural issues with a keen anti-oppression framework, and (2) inspire compassion in ourselves and others. Compassion and anti-oppression work together: compassion motivates us to make our society a better place for people who suffer; anti-oppression is a tool for transforming our motivation into action.
For many people, “oppression” sounds like a harsh word. Some wonder why we do not just use terms like “prejudice” or “bias” instead. Although prejudice and bias are important for understanding personal motivations, individuals are most gravely hurt by what happens to them systematically because of their membership in groups. Oppression describes that process and gives a clear way of thinking about how to address the problem.
The practice of anti-oppression is a holistic way of addressing why people are hurt because of their membership in groups. Anti-oppression focuses on the way power relationships are fixed in a society. Power relationships are complicated because they are carried out through ideology, culture, institutions, historical legacies, individual behaviors, and the many ways individuals and groups interact with one another.
Often power relationships are subtle or difficult to discern because people see them as commonplace and unexceptional.
Compassion is the commitment to end suffering in the lives of others. It is why we are motivated to carry out our mission of anti-oppression. Compassion invites us to practice empathy and forgiveness, and to take action so that people are treated with fairness, kindness and humanity.