Reading Guide: April 2021 Meeting

Reading questions for "Beyond Survival" by Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Eds.

Beyond Survival book cover
“Beyond Survival” book cover

Questions by Silviana Amethyst and Stephanie Rytilahti

Part 1: Making the World by Dreaming

“Stories of accountability.” This section is built from seven chapters.

  • Reflect on harm and accountability at your institution. What methods are most commonly used to approach, discuss, or resolve harm and abuse?  What would a transformative justice approach entail?
  • In “Beyond Firing” (Chapter 2), Amanda Aguilar Shank suggests a three stage process for scaling up accountability. Where is your institution in this process?  Where are *you* in this process? How can community models of mutual aid and accountability transfer to institutions of higher ed?
  • The “Excerpt from *Queer Black Feminism as Praxis*” concludes with
    “… [I]t is in the missteps, in the callouts and call-ins, and through trial and error that our ideologies and actions become more aligned. This is why constant reflexivity of praxis is so important.  We are building the plane as we fly it, and hindsight is and will always be 20/20.”
  • Many of the approaches in this section and others drawn on a disability justice model of centering the experiences of the most marginalized. How and where is this model already operative in your leadership work or institutional networks?
    Interpret across all of “Making the World by Dreaming,” and apply to your leadership.

Part 2: We Got This

“Toolkits and roadmaps”.  These ten chapters cover concrete approaches and practices for a variety of challenging abuses and harms.

  • Your leadership calls on you to empower all you serve. Which three practices from these chapters will you integrate into your work?
  • Complete the Pod-Mapping Worksheet (p.124-125).
  • How does your work intersect with the problems in “We Got This?” In what ways will your leadership improve if you change your mind and expand that intersection?
  • Which of these practices do you perceive as being the most challenging to you at this time? What would be the first step in getting started?

Part 3: We Didn’t Call It TJ, but Maybe It Worked Anyway?

“Messy, real stories.” Six chapters.

  • What if you said aloud at work “Sex work is work”?  What if you were meeting with a different unit at your institution, or working across institutions? What is erased and whose experiences are overlooked when sex work is obscured?
  • Draw your own vent diagram, a la “Vent Diagrams as Healing Practice.” Reflect on the use of fantasy in leadership work.
  • Adrienne Marie Brown asks, “How can we pivot toward practicing transformative justice? How do we shift from individual, interpersonal, and interorganizational anger toward viable generative sustainable systemic change?” What is the place of transformative justice in our work as students, scholars, and leaders?  Based on our other conversations, (Ahmed, etc.) where do incomplete models of this work exist in diversity work?  How can we sharpen the approach and support more sustainable, impactful models of change?
  • This section underscores the slow and incremental pace of systemic change? How did these chapters help you reframe how you understand “success” stories when engaging in transformative justice work? What role do small-scale changes or even setbacks play in assessing the larger picture?

Part 4: What Did We Know Then, What Do We Know Now?

“Movement histories and futures.” Five chapters.

  • Compare “the speed of lust” to “the speed of trust” (p. 262). Compare rage to repair (p. 304). Think broadly, then think specifically.  Think individually, then think institutionally.
  • Relate state violence to institutional violence.
  • Read chapter 28, “How We Learned (Are Learning) Transformative Justice” aloud.
  • How can we reimagine the future by centering the experiences and frameworks offered by the community activists in this book?