"Yana is a wonderful human being, a trained facilitator and mediator, and has been doing a lot of racial justice work here in Laramie, Wyoming... She's taken trainings held by myself & other organizers, as well as trainings across the country. She is dedicated to talking to other white people about racial justice and collective liberation, and she also is profoundly grounded, deeply motivated, and extremely honest."
--Sarah Duncan, SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Wyoming Organizer
Oppression is a special set of human relations, one that deserves special attention, particular frameworks of understanding and specialized tools to dismantle. "Special" doesn't mean unusual, however. Oppression is, unfortunately, the water we swim in--it can be hard to see for a lot of people, but it affects everything we do with each other. It is also foundational to many aspects of American life, culture and economics. Unpacking oppression is hard but essential work if we are going to arrive at a world that is truly sustainable, resilient and just.
Yana began directly incorporating talk about racism, sexism, classism and a host of other oppression dynamics into her work in 2014, though she started her own learning about these dynamics in her early 20's. She lives on both sides of the oppression dynamic herself and is well aware of both the impacts oppression has on individuals and groups, as well as how hard it can be to see oneself as benefiting from or participating in the oppression of others.
Her goal with this work is to provide three things:
- a compassionate space in which to explore and uncover oppression dynamics;
- frameworks to understand the basics (including such topics as the privilege gap, cultural appropriation, the impact of oppression on groups and individuals, intersectionality, and the critical role of marginalized voices in culture change) as well as how oppression feeds societal ills such as climate change, poverty and social isolation; and
- support for groups to create actionable plans to turn around the oppression dynamics happening within them and among members.
Yana works solo in some cases, but also partners with others whose lived experience is different from hers in some areas, including race and class. This includes a workshop on Classism and Cooperative Economics with Matt Stannard. Most anti-oppression offerings are carefully designed for each group she works with.
Two interviews that can provide some insight into how Yana talks about oppression:
A Sustainable Mind podcast, discussing western privilege with Marjorie Alexander. (Skip to about the ten minute mark where we start talking about race and class.)
KPFA radio in California, on economics and culture.
See also Yana's Patreon page for recent blogs on race and decolonizing our consciousness.