Social Justice and Diversity

Overview This exercise explores the themes of diversity, unity, division, oppression, being ‘marginalised,’ being a minority, intolerance, power and resistance.

Sub-Comandante Marcos is a Zapatista leader in southern Mexico. A few years ago, the Mexican government tried to discredit him by putting forward the idea that he was homosexual in a region where there are strong ideas about heterosexual masculinity.” He responded with the poem used in this exercise.

Time 45 minutes

Materials A copy of the poem for each participant, definitions of some of the terms in the overview (above) posted around the room so everyone can see them

Instructions Ensure the group understands the terms under ‘key themes.’

The facilitator should explain the background of the poem to the group. Be sure the group understands the meaning of ‘Zapatista’ and clarify any other questions they may have about the background.

Hand out a copy of the poem to each participant and ask each person to read a line out loud, taking turns until the poem is complete.

Let the group think silently for a couple minutes before facilitating the following discussion questions:

  • Why would Sub-Comandante Marcos choose to respond in this way?
  • How is his cause affected when he identifies himself with out marginalised groups?
  • Is there anything that links all the groups Marcos names together? What is it?
  • What does it mean to be a ‘minority’? To be ‘oppressed’? ‘Marginalised’?
  • How do you think we can change these things or bring an end to them?
  • What do you think would happen if all the marginalised groups Marcos names were to come together?

Facilitator Tips Be aware that this poem and the discussion may be quite emotional for some participants (especially those who fall into the ‘marginalised’ categories) or quite uncomfortable for others (especially those who fall into the ‘dominant’ categories).

Be prepared to defuse tension – using yourself as an example usually works better than pointing to others in the group. Some participants may resist identifying with or understanding the poem; talking in a little bit of detail about being the minority can make it seem more real and more accessible.
Read the poem a few times before the workshop so you are comfortable and confident with it.

“Yes, Marcos is gay.
Marcos is gay in San Francisco,
Black in South Africa,
an Asian in Europe,
a Chicano in San Ysidro,
an anarchist in Spain,
a Palestinian in Israel,
a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal,
a Jew in Germany,
a Gypsy in Poland,
a Mohawk in Quebec,
a pacifist in Bosnia,
a single woman on the Metro at 10pm,
a peasant without land,
a gang member in the slums,
an unemployed worker,
an unhappy student,
and, of course,
a Zapatista in the mountains.

Marcos is all the exploited, marginalized, oppressed minorities resisting and
saying “Enough”. He is every untolerated group searching for a way to speak. Everything that makes power and the good consciences of those in power uncomfortable — this is Marcos.”

– Sub-Comandante Insurgente Marcos

Source: The Kit

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