Just as our histories are connected so too are our present and future.
The injustices of today and tomorrow are not new. They are the descendants of ancient, evolving, and persistent forms of dehumanization, exclusion, hierarchy and violence. Therefore, our justice and equity movements must equally be bold, vigilant, and relentless.
Initiatives of Change USA recognizes and engages the world as one, connected relational tissue, flowing out of the basic rights and responsibilities that every person has by virtue of the intrinsic dignity with which they walk this earth. We believe that the extent to which that tissue generates enduring life or decay is determined by the thoughts, decisions and actions of every member of our global human family.
While rapid technological advances in the last two decades have ensured that most people are virtually connected with each other and have easy access to any and all information within seconds, IofC does not believe such innovation offers a sufficient depth of “connectedness” to ensure diminished isolation and fear in individuals and communities. On the contrary, it often has great potential to undermine wellbeing and social cohesion as is acutely and alarmingly evidenced today throughout our world. Of course, isolation and polarization are not new phenomena, but they feel particularly sharp-edged at this moment where perpetual conflict cycles and centuries of oppression and colonization feel intractable; where history’s lessons seem forgotten.
Initiatives of Change USA is committed to ensuring those lessons, which continue to languish within ourselves, our institutions and our communities, are not dismissed or forgotten. Repairing these conditions is not simply about breaking or disrupting them, nor is it about turning away or moving on from them.
We believe that the complexity of these conflicts within and amongst ourselves requires integrated perspectives, spirit and skill sets, whereby people, communities, dynamics and resources conventionally understood as oppositional to one another, instead are incubated together so as to transform those same relationships, conditions and social systems.
IofC USA is, in fact, an incubator of resilient people and interdependent relationships because it is in that environment where violence either is committed or transcended.
To hold ourselves, communities and institutions accountable in areas where change is needed, IofC stands for and pursues:
Love in relationships built on respectful acknowledgment and intricate knowledge of one another– characterized by disciplined action, reflective listening, humble openness, dignity and honest accountability over the mistrust, blame, self-justification, violence and fear.
Honesty, reciprocity and trust in ourselves and with others, over deception, manipulation, exploitation, and disregard.
Unselfishness over the greed, plunder, pilfering and unilateralism that fuels fear, mistrust and violence.
Purity as in integrity of motive that is focused on how individual and collective actions or presence contributes to the flourishing of others, over the hierarchical abuse, controlling power, and diminishment of another.
Through courageous leadership and solidarity practices, we uproot fearfulness, insecurity, non-accountability, fragmentation, miseducation and exclusion. We are the emergent creators of the histories we inhabit. Therefore, IofC builds relationships and resources as a resounding form of equity justice. We take risks, own our failures, and engender new learnings through deep listening and purposeful actions.
We are shapeshifters evolving dynamic and vibrant processes in freedom-making.
A Brief Glossary of IofC USA Terms
We recognize that identity and representation are cultural processes that are not fixed but always shifting. Meanings can change depending on time, place, movements of individuals and collectives, and interactions with a diverse host of social actors and institutions. As a way of demonstrating inclusive history sharing, truth-telling, reflection, and equity, Initiatives of Change USA is integrating the following vocabulary into our organizational practices.
United States: We do not use the term “America” or “Americans” to refer to the geography or people of the United States of America. This label is exclusive and does not fully recognize the countries, people and experiences comprised throughout North America, South America and Central America. However, self-identification terms such as Native American, Korean American, and Palestinian American are acceptable as specific signifiers of individuals, communities and cultures.
Enslavement: IofC USA chooses to use this language instead of "slave" so that emphasis is placed on the condition of involuntary servitude perpetuated by racist capitalist economies in order to develop the Americas. In this way, respect, dignity and recognition of the full humanity of enslaved persons is not questioned. The false notion of white supremacy was birthed through the ongoing capture, trade, controlling power, and institutionalized practices of enslavement and colonization of African peoples and other people of color throughout the world. This has resulted in deeply embedded systems and structures of racist inequality that are daily experienced by marginalized persons and communities in a multitude of interconnected ways.
People of color: We use this term to self-identify as it has longevity in social justice movements and can be used to express solidarity, fellowship and determinative capacity. The word “minority” demonstrates inferiority and is not be used by IofC.
We also acknowledge self-identifications of Black, African, persons of African descent, African American, pan-African and African diasporic; Indigenous, First Nation, American Indian and Native American; Latinx and Latino/a as opposed to Hispanic; South Asians (persons from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka); and South East Asians (persons from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand). IofC USA embraces the terms biracial, multiracial and multiethnic to describe persons of two or more racial or ethnic identities.
LGBTQIA+: This term can be used to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual persons and/or other persons of self-determined identification. We use and/or to acknowledge how individuals who are queer, asexual, non-binary and/or gender nonconforming can identify themselves through layering processes.
Women: We use this term instead of “female” (not a noun but okay as an adjective) due to long traditions of use to dismiss or neglect the full humanity of women and girls. We also employ the terms womxn, wommin, wimmin, and womyn to indicate broader forms of belonging, inclusion, intersectionality, fluid identities, and gender non-conformity.