Sophia Wekesa
Imagine if this world would work so that instead of helping the underprivileged and marginalized to integrate into society and pushing for inclusion, we would focus on helping the privileged to face their uncomfortable feelings and let go of their unfair and unjust advantages. Social change is emotional work – through empathy and accountability we can move from saviourism to community participation.
Dancer and expert Sophia Wekesa will guide us on this rocky path on how to have a conversation with one’s internal oppressor, who is not just oppressing other people, but limiting ourselves and us as a society, asking “Why is this happening to me?”.
Discussion on social change is often focused on intellectual and academic conversations, but real change can only happen when we do the uncomfortable emotional work. After all, people describe their relations to social injustice and their own privileges with words about feelings and emotions. The avoidance of difficult conversations comes from avoiding the difficult feelings of shame, guilt, sorrow and fear.
In 2021 we often hear how people fear being called out or cancelled, more than they fear oppression. Conversations about empathy often lack building a safe space for others to express their insecurities about their own toxic and oppressive behaviours. This allows for taking responsibility for ourselves being problematic and working on it.
While all of the above are valid questions to reflect, I do believe they should be reflected together. We need accountability and empathy to make change. And we need to shift the conversation from intellect to healing and emotional work. This session is for anyone ready or curious to connect with their uncomfortable feelings in order to move social progress forward. Don’t be afraid, Sophia will make sure we also release them before we leave the session.
The transformation into more sustainable, fair and joyful societies won’t be complete in our lifetime. So the work cannot be motivated by personal glory or left to saviour-like leader figures. Collective change means that everyone takes responsibility and asks: “How can I be the best possible ancestor for future generations?” This session and Untitled festival are good places to start, if you haven’t yet.
Sophia Wekesa is a dancer, actor and expert on culture sensitive and antiracist youth work.
Photo by Caroline Suinner