JOHN A. POWELL on Institutions of Othering and Radical Belonging /119


Now more than ever, we are reminded of the vital importance of creating practices that strengthen and recognize our shared humanity. However, in order to do so, we must examine the systems, ideologies, and actions that have emboldened us to deny humanity in the first place… At the beginning of this week’s episode, john a. powell defines any practice which denies someone’s humanity as an act of “othering.” Both at home and abroad it seems we are witnessing a surge of "othering," whether it is reflected in election cycles, the rise of ethnonationalism, or the pervasiveness of violent acts. We must wonder, how and why do societies rely on the process of othering? And more importantly, how do we move into engagement, organizing, and “bridging?”

People who are most marginal, we have to make sure their stories are centered, their practices are centered…
— John A. Powell / Episode 119
Photo by Peg Skorpinski

Photo by Peg Skorpinski

john a. powell is Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously the Executive Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University and the Institute for Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. Prior to that john was the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. He is a co-founder of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the boards of several national and international organizations. john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

This week’s conversation between john and Ayana explores the frameworks of “othering and belonging” and "targeted universalism," as well as ideologies of supremacy, global dislocation, rethinking citizenship, and lastly, how we can co-create shared visions and practices of humanity that bring us back into belonging.

♫ Music by Ani Difranco

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At For The Wild, we discuss the critical ideas of our time and parlay them into action for the defense and regeneration of natural communities. Key topics include the rediscovery of wild nature, ecological renewal and resistance, and healing from the trauma of individualistic society. We will travel deep into ancient forests, align with the struggles and ways of Earth-based people, and rekindle the mysteries of intuition. We will join today’s brightest visionaries in this momentous work of reimagining a world where humanity can find its way back into the web of life.

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