Before engaging in social justice work it is important to think about accountability. Our society is based on myths of saviors, “white” knights, and (super)heroes acting on behalf of others bringing only their courage and good intentions. Good Intentions are not enough. We have to look at the impact of what we do and that is best judged in conjunction with others, particularly those on the front lines of grassroots struggles for social justice. They are most vulnerable to negative effects from our actions and from external backlash and other repercussions from our efforts.
The resources listed below can be helpful for thinking about processes of accountability and participating in wider discussions of this issue. But ultimately, accountability is a practice, not an understanding. It unfolds in the ways that we understand and are responsive to the needs and concerns of those most impacted by the issues we are involved with. Accountability is a complex subject and an accountable practice develops over time out of relationships and collective action. Organizations and individuals serious about working for social justice should keep it forefront in their thinking.
Resources on Accountability:
Accountability: Who Benefits from Our Work?
Kivel, Paul. Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice. Rev. 3rd edition. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society, 2011 »
Cushman, Bonnie Berman et. al. Accountability and White Anti-racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work. Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2010
Margaret, Jen. Working as Allies. Auckland Workers’ Educational Association. Winston Churchill Fellowship report, August, 2010
Davis, Lynne. Alliances: Re/envisioning Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relationships. University of Toronto, 2010.