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A lot of the daily cycle of social justice work involves hassle, toxicity and disrespect. Whether turning outward to address microaggressions, systemic violence, misrepresentation and murder, or struggling in our communities for self-care and accountability, our work must be alert for poisonous practices. Our experiences (professional and personal) reflect this wider trend: we do, and we must, continue to critique and dismantle. Yet a sequence of reflections on online toxicity, faux-pologies, and exhaustion in social justice work, along with our own experiences online and offline, have us wondering: what do we gain, and lose, by remaining in a critical mode? What could we be, beyond critique?
We propose this conversation in part to do justice to the value of critique. We hope to take up the conversation about how we share, create, and be accountable together beyond our ability to observe, dismantle, or distance from unjust practices. It is important to name, analyze, and provide clarity of vision when injustice takes place. It is also important to renew our energies for anti-oppression work, which is cyclical and multi-generational. In many academic and movement spaces, we see a duality of hateration and idealization; insights, transformations, divisions and burnout emerge in equal measure from the energy of critique. How could we as an online and lifeline community move more gently in critique and move deeply in our movement-building?
Beyond critique is about turning the corner and feeling the expansiveness of the full field of feminism.
It is not about leaving anything behind; it is not about taking the next “beyond” in a linear progression of progressive thought. As many online forums demonstrated in 2013 (especially around white feminism), trying to push past anger or critique is often a push for derailment and privilege. Yet we test the limits of creativity and resiliency when we focus only on misconceived “toxicity” and failures (or even admitted mistakes). We envision this forum as a way to map the terrain beyond critique and to build authentic dialogue and connections among the many people practicing feminism on this rich ground.
We want to hear from communities and individuals–what do you do to move beyond critique? How do you honor the potency of critique in your ongoing movement? How do you build movements where critique takes equal space with nurturance, sustenance and creativity? What are you doing and how do you dream beyond critique?
Submissions of all genres—from poetry to theory and policy papers—are welcome until March 19, 2014. Please submit your piece here with an indication that you are submitting for this forum.