The society in which we live is marked by different power relations (racism, sexism, etc…). These power relations also make themselves noticeable on this very camp. They produce structural exclusions, hierarchies, dominances and traumas. They equip certain people with privileges, from which they structurally exclude others – that means not only in individual cases but on a broad basis. That can practically mean that certain people won’t get their word in edgewise on general assemblies, or that others often dominate discussions. Or that positions of speakers are taken unenequally serious. Amongst other things, through the way in which we communicate with each other, we either contribute towards reestablishing power relations over and over again, or towards questioning these.
For people that are constantly negatively affected by racism, sexism (…) throughout their life, communication within spaces, that are shared with people privileged by racism, sexism (…), holds the danger of hurt and retraumatisation. In this process it is not crucial wether the the speaker wants to hurt a person or not. We have to be conscious of the fact that we speak from very different positions and that structural violence is often not noticed by people that are not directly affected by it. What is violent is hence defined by the affected.
That’s why we use the „STOP“-sign and the „interruption“-sign on the plenums during the No Border Camp.
A person can use the „STOP“-sign if what has just been said means structural violence for herself_himself – that means if the person sees herself_himself being hurt in a sexist, racist (…) way. The violative speech is interrupted at this point. It is up to the person that used the sign wether she_he wants to explain himself_herself or not. If the person wants to, she_he can also let other people talk for herself_himself. The explanation should not be commented but should be left standing like that, since defence mechanisms often take effect in such cases, which in turn prevent from listening. The speech-list is continued after the „STOP“-sign.
If the „interruption“-sign is used, the plenum is instantly interrupted for 5 minutes. The person that used the sign has the possibility to exchange herself_himself with people they trust. Again, it is up to the person that used the sign what and how things are carried back into the plenum and if and in which way an exchange with the person/s that gave the reason for the „interruption“-sign happens. Persons that use this sign should not get under pressure to explain themselves.
If the „interruption“-sign is used, the plenum is instantly interrupted for 5 minutes. The person that used the sign has the possibility to exchange herself_himself with people they trust. Again, it is up to the person that used the sign what and how things are carried back into the plenum and if and in which way an exchange with the person/s that gave the reason for the „interruption“-sign happens. Persons that use this sign should not get under pressure to explain themselves. The use of such a sign requires a lot of courage. This will surely not happen carelessly. In the concrete case this means for people, that are not negatively affected by racism, sexism,(…), to first of all listen and not to immediately excuse or justify themselves. This is not the right place for a discussion. Criticism concerning one’s own behavior – even if it comes surprisingly and possibly is perceived as unjustified at first – should be seen as a chance for debate and change. There should definitely be spaces for discussion and for learning elsewhere, if they are marked as such and if they are handled responsibly.
This is not about disseminating guilty verdicts and brandishing moral clubs. We are all part of power relations like racism(…). The violation of peoples limits can happen even if they are not intended. The introduced signs are an attempt to handle violations, to create a more protected space, to open a space for learning and thereby, in the best case, to reduce violations in future.
This is why we expect openness for an examination of one’s own behaviour and one’s own positions from every participant of the camp.