The Bystander Intervention Mixtape to Prevent Systemic and Intercommunal Violence: Grounding our Work in Empathy, Reconciliation and Racial Justice Activism
Written by Sarah Orton
As we enter the month of February, there are few better topics to address the intersections of Black History Month and Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month than culturally specific Bystander Intervention.
In the past, the anti-violence movement has done a disservice by treating our work to end racialized violence and sexual/intimate partner violence as two separate issues. Not only that, but our prevention strategies have not always been relevant to all communities, particularly those who are most marginalized or do not center dominant white communication norms. Reshaping Bystander Intervention in communities is paramount, and the five steps of the traditional Bystander Intervention method needed a remix.
Black Women’s Blueprint (BWB), an organization focused on co-creating vibrant and safe communities where women and all people can live lives of sovereignty and dignity, conducted focus groups on Historically Black College and University (HBCU) campuses where they found conclusively that anti-violence advocates need to change the language around Bystander Intervention. BWB developed a curriculum, realizing that it needed to explicitly speak to the culturally specific needs of young Black men and would need to use new language that transformed “bystanders” into people with moral courage.
This web conference series, which centered the work of population-specific bystander intervention with an emphasis on engaging Black men, utilized an anti-oppression framework to explore the intersections between sexual violence prevention and racial justice activism. The interactive second session focused heavily on skill building for community safety and grounding the work of Bystander Intervention in both empathy and reconciliation.
Here are some key takeaways from the web conference:
- Mainstream Bystander Intervention curricula empowers students with the skills they need to intervene in problematic situations, but the culturally specific curriculum adds a social justice layer rooted in transformative justice.
- The Bystander Intervention Mixtape approach encourages participants to confront intergenerational cultural beliefs and unpack social norms, messages, and actions that make violence possible.
- It is important to examine the reasons, from a cultural perspective, of why people do or do not intervene in a given situation.
- Black men who typically do not challenge each other on misogyny can build empathy for women who experience violence through an understanding of their own experiences living in fear of the criminal legal system.
To watch the full recordings for The Bystander Intervention Mixtape to Prevent Systemic and Intercommunal Violence: Grounding our Work in Empathy, Reconciliation and Racial Justice Activism web conference series, see the links below.
Check out the Bystander Mixtape curriculum and toolkit HERE.