Housing Alliance Definition of Anti-Oppression
Anti-oppression is an umbrella term that includes practices and perspectives that actively recognize and challenge the many ways injustices manifest on a daily basis in our communities, cultures, and institutions. This term can typically include actively challenging the interconnecting functions of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, and ongoing colonization.
Anti-oppression includes a commitment to critically examining how power dynamics and privileges impact individuals, communities, and larger systems, and a commitment to dismantling systemic, institutional and personal experiences of oppression in regards to both process (how we work), and product (what we work on) to help create conditions in which all people have opportunity to thrive. We see this as a working definition that will likely grow and shift as we continue to engage with these principles.
Statement on Anti-Oppression
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance believes that undoing institutional oppression is foundational to our mission. Our mission is to lead the movement to ensure that all Washington residents thrive in safe, healthy, affordable homes. Achieving our mission of affordable housing for all requires an awareness of the current and historical forms of institutional oppression and a commitment to addressing issues of equity present in all of our local communities.
Institutional oppression can take many forms – from the redlining that once prevented African American families from purchasing homes using federally-backed mortgages to the legal discrimination that occurs today that allows landlords to deny tenancy to people using a voucher or housing subsidy to pay rent. Institutional oppression is rooted in discrimination and bias based on race, class, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, national origin, and other identity groups or characteristics.
An anti-oppression framework includes a commitment to critically examining how power dynamics and privileges impact individuals, communities, and larger systems, and a commitment to dismantling systemic, institutional and personal experiences of oppression in regards to both process (how we work), and product (what we work on) to help create conditions in which all people have opportunity to thrive.
The Housing Alliance’s commitment to actively dismantling the forces of oppression that deny safe and healthy housing to our communities is reflected in our strategic plan. The plan identifies undoing institutional oppression as one of six strategic goals, and also weaves anti-oppression actions throughout all six strategic goals. We understand that this work is ongoing and begins with educating ourselves and our community of supporters about the intersection of institutional oppression and homelessness/housing instability. It includes a critical review of how we do business through an anti-oppression lens – from internal hiring and structure to creating our external advocacy agenda. And it requires solidarity and collaboration with sister movements, from anti-racist organizations to groups fighting for the rights of immigrants and refugees. Our work will not end until every Washingtonian has a safe, healthy, affordable home in a thriving community – and we will not accomplish this goal until our community is able to address systemic barriers that deny people this fundamental and foundational opportunity.