A Fusion of Movements

Integrating Key Messages from Racial Justice and Social Justice Work Into Interpersonal Violence Prevention Programming

By Sirajah Raheem, Senior Trainer


“I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.” – Martin Luther King Jr., 1968
I have straddled two social justice movements for a long time, I’ve worked in interpersonal violence prevention and then separately in racial justice as it relates to systemic violence. As I have participated in, worked in, and organized in these communities I’ve found that despite opportunities for deliberate intersection there wasn’t much overlap between the two movements. I say this about my own work within these movements as well. I’d like to be more deliberate about integrating the things I’ve learned in each movement. As life dictates where I am able to spend the majority of my time, I feel anxious about leaving the values or goals of one movement behind as I hone skills in another.

But in truth, I don’t have to commit solely to one field, and also in truth I should not commit to one field if I’d like to see the success of both movements. As it stands, mainstream interpersonal violence prevention leaves behind women of color and neglects to address the ways that interpersonal violence and state violence intersect in our lives. I’d like to think more intentionally about how to integrate principles of racial justice work into programs such as the Green Dot strategy and into my own work with Alteristic. I can’t squeeze it all into one little old blog post, but I’d like to start by thinking about identifying where natural intersections lie and then pulling overlapping messaging from those intersections.

When utilizing the Green Dot strategy we discuss identifying key prevention messages across programming and across the social ecological model. We understand that every member in our community has a role to play in proactive prevention of interpersonal violence. And we practice that everyone has responsibility for sharing those key messages within their sphere of influence. What if prevention educators were similarly diligent about integrating key messages from racial justice work? Working with campus partners who do racial justice work could really bolster prevention efforts on a campus. If campus partners were to identify key messages for racial justice work, how could prevention educators begin to integrate that language and key messaging into our programming?

Green Dot’s curriculum and community mobilization strategy can support adaptations and inclusion of values from other movements. Community building across the social ecological model is a part of the Green Dot narrative and it’s similarly a part of the narrative of successful racial justice movement building. Emphasis on community building is already inherent in Green Dot’s strategy, but it can appear to be deemphasized to focus on narratives that focus on the individual level and then the relationship level. For instance, throughout training we mostly ask folks to consider their own line when confronted with something challenging, their interpersonal interactions with family members and friends, and their connection to the issue. But as instructors, we could very easily and very deliberately build in language that puts an emphasis on community when we discuss proactive behaviors that create culture change. This is a great place to invite campus/community partners who are doing racial justice work to inform and contribute to our work! Have a chat over coffee about the key messages that overlap from both movements to get you started!

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