Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who is Fierce Allies for?
Fierce Allies services are for people who are:
- Organizational/movement leaders, activists, therapists, coaches, consultants, trainers, educators, mediators, clergy and others.
- Immersed in conversations about power, oppression, diversity, equity, and inclusion; hungry for a dynamically engaged learning environment and practice community; committed to transforming contentious dynamics into catalysts for building resilient multi-cultural alliances.
- Actively investing in their self-growth and development;
- Able and willing to challenge what they know, step outside of their comfort zone, stay present in the face of strong emotions, make mistakes and learn from them.
- Bold leaders, humbly assuming responsibility for pioneering new paths beyond business as usual where others can follow.
2. Is Fierce Allies an anti-racism or anti-oppression training?
Fierce Allies stands in solidarity with most “anti-” racism and oppression work, which generally teaches people how to stop participating in behaviors and thinking that perpetuates systemic oppression. Our work takes the next steps of developing the practices and sensibilities to be part of the solution, and thereby being increasingly active and effective participants in the dismantling of systemic power abuse, oppression, and white-heteronormative-cis gendered-christian-capitalist dominance.
3. Does Fierce Allies include analysis of systemic racism?
No, Fierce Allies doesn’t have any particular “ism” agenda.
And… This work supports participants’ ability to address any and all -isms. Our pedagogical approach looks to participants to bring up the -isms impacting their lives and communities. In return, we create safe containers for exploring how to confront and dismantle the dynamics of power and privilege at play. We will do this through practices that allow participants to:
- Understand the entrapping and cyclical nature of power and oppression;
- Cultivate compassion (and often forgiveness) for themselves and others’ emotional/behavioral responses when caught in the cycle;
- Take responsibility for the multi-dimensional roles they play in cycles of oppression and dominance;
- Analyze the social, political, and emotional context in which cycles of oppression flourish;
- Generate safety for self and community without harming or dominating others; and
- Generate power-sharing relationships that were formerly impossible.
This approach allows for a deeper analysis of all the dynamics of power and privilege impacting and impacted by all the -isms, setting the course for holistic and inter-sectional solutions.
4. How will Fierce Allies advance my growth as an ally and social justice catalyst?
The Fierce Allies Practice of Change creates a generative learning environment where participants develop the critical skills of being catalysts – questioning assumptions, participating in fiercely honest dialogues, and using strong emotions and contentious dynamics as a means for building trust across seemingly insurmountable divides. Fierce Allies services afford participants an opportunity to:
- Conduct a conscious accounting of active and passive participation, as victim and offender in the systemic oppression of all people, including themselves;
- Skillfully express and be impacted by strong emotions like rage, shame, and fear, resulting in meaningful changes in belief and behavior;
- Learn how to call each other “in” rather than call each other “out”, when harm has been caused;
- Embrace adversaries as valuable teachers, and uncomfortable feedback as a precious gift;
- Embody “I don’t know” as a position of power;
- Transform self-fulfilling beliefs and stories of scarcity; and
- Cultivate and utilize indigenous and creative intelligence to restore right relationship between ALL our relations.
Individually, participants emerge with greater humility, capacity, competency, and creativity. Collectively they become dynamic practice partners, embodying a shared commitment to generating sustainable power-sharing and mutual accountability from any position of privilege or authority.
5. I have already taken several diversity trainings, how is this work different?
Most anti-oppression, diversity, equity and inclusion approaches offer essential analysis and deconstruction of systemic “isms,” with the intention of preventing their further perpetuation. Fierce Allies stands in solidarity with and on the shoulders of these efforts –our work would not be possible without their important contributions.
Fierce Allies also advances and distinguishes itself from this work in several ways. Most notably Fierce Allies develops practical emotional-social intelligence and strategically applies it to the exchanges impacting and impacted by dynamics of power.
This approach affords oppressed people the power to skillfully utilize their rage and reclaim responsibility for their own liberation. It invites people with privilege to engage in the struggle of equity and justice from positions other than shame, blame and hero. It trains both in a body of practices that allows for trust building through fiercely honest dialogue.
6. What are the pedagogical and philosophical approaches used in this work?
Fierce Allies is rooted in ancient wisdom that is indigenous to us all. What makes it new is the integration of diverse philosophies and approaches into one unified body of work, including:
Power Analysis. Power is the ability to create change. Dynamics of power are at play in all relationships and far more variable than conventionally understood. In order to dismantle systemic power abuse we must: understand the generative (not limited) nature of power; map it’s patterns; uplift and embody it’s unconventional forms (resilience, creativity, adaptability, responsiveness, collaboration); claim the responsibility and vulnerability associated with it; and create new organizing structures and opportunities that are distributive, equitable, and just.
Equitable decision making, accounting for one’s relative access to power when making choices.
Restorative Justice (RJ), which aims to break cycles of violence and restore relationships and accountability between individuals and communities. Adopted from the RJ philosophy, Fierce Allies holds central the understanding that: (1) Acts of dominance/oppression are done by people and to people, and justice warrants a restoration of accountability within those relationships; (2) Those who dominate/oppress have usually been dominated or oppressed themselves, without experiencing adequate healing or restitution; (3) The shared experience of being dominated/oppressed is the pathway to mutual compassion and care, with personal stories as the gateway, and (4) Cycles of dominance/oppression are broken only when the needs of all people involved, both “oppressor” and “oppressed,” are attended to.
Popular Education (like Theater of the Oppressed) and experiential learning drawforth the wisdom of trainers and participants as co-learners and practice partners, activating the emotional impacts and memories essential for changing beliefs and behavior. Together participants build trust, cultivate and diversify learning perspectives, and develop capacity and strategies that embody mutual accountability.
Somatic awareness and body-centering practices support the development of self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-care, enabling grounded interactions rather than surface reactivity. Done together, these tools foster empathic understanding and transform the hyper-aggressive/defensive responses that characterize emotionally charged situations.
Personal storytelling fosters whole story and whole person understanding, moving people beyond assumptions to the common ground of humanity. Ritual is an invitation to tap into ancestry, mystery, un-conscious, and subconscious levels of intelligence and healing.
Personal, social and ancestral trauma healing, preventing cycles of trauma from being transferred onto future generations.
Combined, these approaches generate the equitable sensibilities, emotional-social intelligence, compassion, and humility necessary to effectively work through difficulty and difference. They also support participants in remembering the interconnectedness of all life, as well as accountability to multiple generations, past and future. The broad intersection of these diverse philosophies and approaches ensures that the work informs, impacts, and has resonance with the widest possible audience.
7. Can this work be done virutally?
Yes! While most impactful and originally designed to be done in person, we have adapted the work for virtual use. There are some limitations to the virtual format. We have also found it presents some opportunities, most notably teaching us and you how to have less brain draining and more resourcing and embodied virtual exchanges.
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