In April 2023, we convened 228 participants at our annual movement building conference: Collective Power 2023. Together, we examined the rising fascism and white supremacy contributing to concerted attacks on marginalized communities. Of particular concern are the concerted attacks on transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people and birthing people through oppressive legislation that limits their access to affirming and lifesaving healthcare.

Our report, Emerging Strategies for Liberation: A Conference Report on Collective Power 2023, begins with a discussion of the overlapping tactics.

Some of the tactics include: 

1. dehumanizing propaganda and disinformation, 

2. the erosion of legally protected rights, and 

3. physical attacks alongside threats of further violence.  

These attacks are at the forefront of right-wing agendas that aim to narrow civil liberties, including strikes against drag queen story hours, bans on books representing diverse lived experiences, critical race theory, movements for Black lives, voting rights, and activist protests. 

Read more in our report here.

At Collective Power 2023, speakers discussed unpacking these tactics to understand their intersections and the larger political context. These conversations help us build long-term solidarities and strategies for collective resistance. 

Challenging white supremacy and the drive toward fascism begins with a transformation within ourselves and how we relate to each other to shift our culture as we move toward collective liberation. Based on the discussions at Collective Power 2023, our report synthesizes four emerging strategies for liberation. The following highlights the four strategies that emerged at Collective Power 2023. For the full discussion, read our report.  

2. Uproot our sense of urgency and crisis

One of the hallmarks of white supremacy culture is a sense of urgency. Long-time activist Elizabeth ‘Betia’ Martinez defined white supremacy as “an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and people of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, to maintain and defend a system of wealth, power, and privilege.” This definition helps us understand how white supremacy is systematic and sustained over time. 

White supremacy impacts many aspects of our lives and can result in  feeling like we are constantly living in crisis mode. 

Even when it feels like the world is on fire, we must move beyond a crisis mindset. Instead, we can reorient ourselves towards liberatory frameworks that allow us to create spaciousness in our work and with each other. Healing justice is one such framework that seeks “to intervene and respond on generational trauma and systemic oppression, and build community/survivor led responses rooted in southern traditions of resiliency to sustain our emotional/physical/spiritual/psychic and environmental well-being.”

2. Create collectivity

Building solidarities keeps us safe, especially in the context of increased attacks, trolling, and harassment. Those of us working in the reproductive rights and justice space can actively challenge the anti-trans and anti-abortion stigma with TGNC people through more inclusive organizing. 

The Transgender Law Center offers concrete tactics to support inclusive RJ that intentionally recognizes trans people, nonbinary people, and people with disabilities. Suggestions include using inclusive language in RJ advocacy, rejecting propaganda that renames reproductive and gender-affirming care as “sterilization” and “refram[ing] misinformed narratives about pregnancy.”

3.  Share our histories

Although dehumanization may unite us, it does not define us. Storytelling is a powerful tool to connect us and our diverse lived experiences. Storytelling also allows us to counter disinformation, stigma, and misconceptions. 

While our report presents multiple examples of storytelling as a tool for transformative change, one element of Conference 2023 that stands out is Abortion On Our Own Terms’ experiential

art exhibit, the “Stigma-Free Zone.” The exhibit demonstrated what a self-managed abortion is and shows exhibition participants how a person may experience one. The exhibit invites participants “to covision a liberatory future for reclaiming abortion.” Showcasing this exhibition provides healing for people who have had abortions and can reduce the stigma around abortion as healthcare.

4. Live the long game 

We must think beyond two and four-year political cycles. To make this a reality, we must encourage funders to join us in envisioning longer time horizons. We must also build frameworks that equip activists, movement organizers, and leaders with the capacity for endurance. 

Dive deeper into these strategies in our report: Emerging Strategies for Liberation. 

Join us in shaping critical conversations like this at our activist conference taking place April 12-13. Register for Collective Power 2024.