Coming Together to Understand Oppression

By Delphine Criscenzo, Member-Owner

I strongly believe that community cohesion and collaboration will bring about a future where we can all thrive. When we come together we are more aware, more creative and wiser -- which is why I invest a lot in community organizing. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of two of Portland’s oldest, most democratic and ground breaking communities: our very own People’s Food Cooperative and KBOO Community Radio. I have been a Member-Owner of People’s for five years and have been a Hands-On-Owner just as long. 

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Our Ends Statement declares that we are "a passionate community working together for a safe, welcoming community where all are valued." I truly believe that in order to reach this End, we must intentionally create opportunities for dialogue and for learning within our community. This weekend, I will be helping co-facilitate an Info Session during which we will create a common language and commitment for addressing how oppression shows up at People's and how we will interrupt. I am currently involved with a similar effort at KBOO that I would like to tell you about.

 I have been a community journalist for the last ten years because community radio has introduced me to the power of people-powered independent media. At KBOO, community members like you and I produce, host, investigate, report, research and fact check every story or piece of music that is broadcasted through the air. For almost fifty years, KBOO has strived to create a space for a diversity of Portland communities to come together to express their talents, doubts, and progressive perspectives. Building a safe, welcoming and just environment has always been at the forefront and for the last three years, under the leadership of Monica Beemer, KBOO has been engaging in dialogues around creating a Beloved Community.


The Beloved Community concept popularized by Martin Luther King, Jr. has given KBOO a framework for ensuring we intentionally create space for dialogue amongst KBOO community members so our radio station continues to flourish as an egalitarian space for creative collaboration. To do that, we first started offering quarterly trainings for staff, board members and key volunteers on anti-oppression issues with a focus on how these oppressions show up at KBOO and what we can do to address them. These training opportunities soon gave birth to a group that has met monthly for the last two years to study oppression and anti-oppression strategies as well as to practice interrupting oppressive behaviors. This monthly group then proposed the creation a workshop for all KBOO volunteers to learn about oppression and practice using love, compassion and humility when interrupting other community members or when taking accountability for your own behaviors. Since last August, over a hundred KBOO volunteers have attended an Anti-Oppression 101 workshop and more will be trained every month. The monthly anti-oppression discussion and action group also continues to meet.

Though it is hard to admit that oppression happens in our community, we must realize how much we have been programmed to accept the racist, sexist, homophobic, size discrimination, ableist, (and the list goes on) realities of our current society. Unless we learn and reflect on the subtle ways we perpetuate oppression, change will never come. The good news is that we are a community, and therefore we are more aware, more creative and wiser together! At KBOO, the opportunity for volunteers to learn from each other has strengthened our community. I look forward to seeing how monthly conversations at People’s can help us grow as well!

Get all the details on the event page, linked below.