Resilience & Resistance

web resources for faith leaders working for social justice

Allies for Racial Equity – Keynote Resources February 18, 2012

Filed under: Public Speaking — Megan Ruth Dowdell @ 6:54 AM

On February 17, Megan spoke as one of two keynote speakers at the Allies for Racial Equity conference in Fort Worth, Texas. She is excited to share with conference attendees and all who are interested the sources cited in the keynote itself (full-text available here) as well as the audio recording.

Interested in more resources like these? Please visit the Reading List tab (under construction) and the blog roll that will be updated shortly.

For more information on Megan’s work and projects, please go to her personal website  and don’t hesitate to friend her on Facebook.

Works Referenced:

Karin Case, “Claiming White Social Location as a Site of Resistance to White Supremacy,” in Disrupting White Supremacy from Within: White People on What We Need to Do

Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez – definition of white supremacy as a “historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent, for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.” (quoted in Tema Okun, Challenging White Supremacy Workshop with Sharon Martinas, and lots of places…)

Tema Okun, The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know and “White Supremacy Culture”

Jennifer Harvey, Whiteness and Morality

James Perkinson, White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity

Catalyst Project and Chris Crass, Catalyzing Liberation Toolkit: (for the 99% Movement),

Robert Jensen, The Heart of Whiteness

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God and well, everything.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room, and well, everything.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ed. Norton Anthology of African American Literature

Katie G. Cannon, Black Womanist Ethics, (quoted)

Delores Williams, Sisters in the WildernessThe Challenge of Womanist God Talk

Becky Thompson, A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism

Janie Victoria Ward,  The Skin We’re In: Teaching our Teens to Be Emotionally Strong, Socially Smart, and Spiritually Connected

Janie Victoria Ward et al. Souls Looking Back: Lifestories of Growing Up Black

Resilience: “The ability to withstand and rebound from crises, adversity and the risk factors known to effect negatively developmental outcomes.”

Resistance: “the marshaling of inner strength to survive physically, psychologically, and spiritually through centuries of intense human degradation and subjugation—at individual and collective levels.”

Traci West, Disrupting White Supremacy from Within: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter

Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, activist and organizer with the AORTA Collective and Occupy NOLA

Nichola Torbett, founding director of Seminary of the Street and organizer with Occupy Oakland

Vanissar Tarakali, Tarakali Education,

Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Claire Bohman, “Swells of Resistance” and “Herbal Aftercare”, [student in course]

Nastasha Ostrom, “Lessons Learned about Street Medics…”, [student in course]

Questions for further reflection:

  • What are two or three things you are curious about?
  • Where do you go with your heartbreak?
  • What do you love?

From the Workshop Session:


Swells of Resistance January 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Ruth Dowdell @ 3:11 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Claire Bohman, Master of Divinity student at Pacific School of Religion, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union, reflects on her praxis (reflection-and-action as a necessary and emancipatory component of education) event for the Resilience and Resistance course.  Click here for the full text on Ms. Bohman’s personal blog.

“A week ago today, thousands of committed folks braved the first real rains of the season in the bay area to send a message to those in power. The pundits had been saying that the “Occupy movement” was over, that we have lost our momentum, and that busting up the camps was the end of this resistance. On Friday, thousands poured into the streets demonstrating the resilience of this movement in the face of corporate efforts to beat us back through funding police repression and government efforts against us…”


“…As we chanted, my heart filled with joy and I thought to myself, this is resilience. This is community resilience. This is what resilience can look like when we work together and fight for a common goal. Resilience is people overpowering the efforts of police to prioritize profit and corporate interests over the needs of people and community safety. Resilience is us backing each other up in times of desperation…”


Lessons Learned About Resilience & Resistance from the Occupy Oakland Street Medics January 27, 2012

By Nastasha Ostrom, student at Starr King School for the Ministry (


“Work done with love sustains.”

“Resistance and Resilience are necessary for life. Know the friends you can go to when you are heartbroken.”

The above two quotes are from fellow students in “Resilience and Resistance”, a one-week Winter Intersession course I took this month at Starr King School for the Ministry. I spent sixteen days in Berkeley CA, where I took this and three other classes and visited and volunteered as a street medic during marches for Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco.

You could say that I learned a valuable lesson or two about resilience and resistance both in class and out in the streets.

On Saturday, January 14th, while many of my classmates were attending a daylong Womanist Symposium, I went down to Oscar Grant Plaza to make contact with Occupy Oakland and feel out their need for more medical volunteers for that evening’s march. With security culture in the Bay area being what it is, I was a little concerned that I—an unknown walk-up volunteer—might not be particularly welcome or trusted, but as soon as I announced that I was a street medic visiting from Occupy Phoenix I was immediately introduced to one of the on-site medics and invited to the street medic training that would be taking place in a few hours. He did a great job of helping orient me to Occupy Oakland’s very, very different protest context.

For those who are only familiar with the protest scene in Phoenix, or only with the protest scene in Oakland, here is a quick breakdown of the differences between the two:

  • In Occupy Phoenix medics are able to communicate fairly well with the police, who will work with us occasionally if needed; we are sometimes even allowed to cross riot lines. Medics in Oakland do not share these privileges; in fact, medics in Oakland are regularly targeted by police and I did not talk to a single medic who had not been injured or attacked at least once by the Oakland PD.
  • While it is true that Occupy Phoenix has seen some police brutality—everyone pepper-sprayed during the First Friday march following the ALEC protests can testify to that fact—it is nowhere near as common as it is in Oakland. I know more people in Occupy Phoenix who have never been victims of police brutality than people who have. In Occupy Oakland nearly every person I spoke to has been injured or attacked by the police at some point or another since their protest started.
  • There is a major difference between the types of police brutality seen in Occupy Phoenix compared to that seen in Occupy Oakland. In Phoenix, as already stated, we’ve been pepper-sprayed as well as kicked by the police and denied medications in jail. In Oakland they’re being shot with bean bags and flash-bangs, hit with batons, and tear-gassed.

I already knew some of this just from watching the LiveStreams and YouTube videos and reading news articles and blogs, but after taking “Resilience and Resistance” I wanted to know how people have been able to keep protesting despite these hostile circumstances. The heart-wrenching reality is that many of the folks in Occupy Oakland could very easily end up becoming the next Scott Olsens. Yet they keep on protesting, and the ways they protest are surprisingly nonviolent, disciplined and organized despite countless reasons for them to be outraged, terrified or completely out-of-control. How do they do it?

The first thing I think they’re doing is being utterly realistic about their situation, about the danger they’re in and the willingness of the officers to hurt every single person who gets involved in these protests. They come prepared to withstand violence, both in terms of the equipment they carry as well as the strategies they employ to protect themselves and one another. They even teach one another ways to keep calm and avoid panic during actions.

Even so, many of them have been hurt despite the efforts they have made to come prepared to and protect themselves during actions. I met one man who had been hit with a bean bag the week before and three young women—all medics—who had each in separate incidents been hit with a bean bag, hit with a baton, or thrown roughly to the ground by the police. Their accounts of their abuse suggest that medics are most likely to be attacked when they are treating patients; as a result, two of the young women admitted that since sustaining their injuries, they have been extremely frightened or “re-triggered” during subsequent protests. I walked with one during the beginning of the march; she was not volunteering that day because she did not yet feel ready to serve as a medic, and she soon began to hyperventilate and had to return to the plaza and sit the march out. However she volunteered as a medic the following week and was able to stay the entire march. The other young woman had taken a few weeks off after being assaulted and was gently reintroducing herself to the protest scene; at that evening’s march she participated as a medic for the first time in weeks.

I think the willingness of both women to practice self-care, and the support of their fellow medics, were both incredibly important in helping them be resilient despite the trauma they had suffered and continue resisting despite the continued threat of police brutality. The Occupy Oakland Medic Collective’s network of care and emphasis on self-care, within Occupy Oakland’s larger context of preparation, discipline and protection, appears to have contributed greatly to the perseverance of these protesters and this protest in the face of constant state violence.


Protected: Required Readings for Everyone: Ethics Resources December 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Ruth Dowdell @ 8:53 AM

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Protected: Required Readings for Everyone: Emotional Justice

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Ruth Dowdell @ 8:35 AM

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Protected: Required Readings for Everyone: Education/Social Justice Sources

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Ruth Dowdell @ 8:33 AM

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Protected: Required Readings for Everyone: Psychosocial Sources

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Ruth Dowdell @ 7:31 AM

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