First Things First…
We recognize that we live and work on the traditional lands of the Kathlamet, Multnomah, Clackamas, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other First Nations.
How and Why STRS Formed
The members of Setting the Record Straight came together with a common desire to create an environment of mutual education on the history of colonialism as it pertains to contemporary indigenous issues. Initially, we attempted to navigate this goal without having established communication with local indigenous organizations, communities or groups that we were interested in working in solidarity with. As a result of this, it was brought to our attention that we were not working from our appropriate social locations.
Why We Are an Educational Group
We, as a collective, consciously recognize our privilege. This privilege can come in many forms, be it settler privilege, male privilege, white privilege, or otherwise. Those of us with white privilege cannot avoid or downplay our privilege as settlers here on this continent. We have chosen to be an educational group focused on decolonization and white privilege, so as to teach others about their privilege and to educate on why we must end colonization and the oppression it perpetuates.
We speak only from our own perspectives and do not attempt to speak on behalf of anyone. Instead, we wish to promote the ideas and works of marginalized individuals from indigenous communities,as long as we have obtained expressed permission from those individuals, and teach white people about the bloody history of white colonization. Any true justice on this land must begin with the restoration of indigenous control and the dismantlement of the settler state. Our politics and practices are guided by this belief.
We stand in solidarity with indigenous groups. We do not wish for our privilege to garner us more attention, therefore, we must maintain constant accountability and awareness about the ways in which our privileges impact our organizing. We hope to act as a conduit for indigenous people to work through in the Portland area to raise awareness around struggles they are facing by showing grassroots documentaries, hosting speakers, organizing events, raising funds and anything else that might be asked of us that is within our capacity as a collective.
What Does it Mean to Set the Record Straight?
As a collective, the majority of our members have been born with white settler privilege (though there are members of color within the group), therefore, we are obligated to work on deconstructing this privilege and to further our understanding of the history which brought about the current oppressive social structures. People of white and settler privilege benefit greatly from the process of colonization. As a result it takes a lot of effort for them to recognize and confront the privilege that it affords them. It is not the responsibility of Native and other peoples of color to educate white and settler privileged folks on their privilege.These realizations were the catalyst for the transformation of our group’s intent and strategy. We now act as an organization which focuses on decolonization and promoting understandings of privilege, with an emphasis on the importance of recognizing indigenous land entitlement. We believe that in the end, no liberation on this continent is true or just if it does not reconcile the colonial history and current social and economic arrangements. Therefore, we are dedicated to seeking ways of being in true solidarity with indigenous peoples.
Why Are We Called Setting the Record Straight?
The title “Setting the Record Straight” was chosen to illustrate our desire to seek out and share the true histories of how western civilization was formed, and how it has led to the current injustices still present today. We must orient ourselves in histories that accurately account for the genocide and displacement of this land’s indigenous peoples. More often than not, this will involve exposing ourselves and the public to indigenous voices that are traditionally silenced for the security of colonialism, heteropatriarchy, racism, and all systems of domination.
Collective Meeting & Event Conduct
As a collective and as individuals we seek to educate ourselves on the complexities of our privilege so as to maintain an awareness of the privilege we are afforded and the agency that it allows us to exert. As a result of this understanding we try to maintain direct and transparent communication within our meetings and events, so as to be constantly aware of our privilege blinders. This allows us to create a safer environment which, ideally, does not reiterate the oppressive power dynamics we witness everyday.
As a collective, we make our decisions using a “consensus minus one” model. This means each decision is made, after considerable discussion and deliberation, by a voting process. The “minus one” aspect of the model means that if a member of the collective is in disagreement with the proposal at hand, we will listen to their concerns and, if necessary, attempt to alter the proposal in order to address these concerns. If this is not a possibility (which happens very rarely) we make our decision based on the rest of the group’s vote.
How Do I Become a Member?
In order to become a member of the Setting the Record Straight collective, an individual must demonstrate a willingness to uphold our points of unity, as well as our collective processes. There must also be consent from each group member for an interested individual to begin attending our meetings. During the first two consecutive meetings an individual attends, they may vote on proposals but cannot yet block a proposal if they are in disagreement. After an individual attends two consecutive meetings and displays an ability to adhere to our points of unity and collective processes, they can then become a collective member and participate normally in our voting process.
Short, Medium & Long Term Goals
Setting the Record Straight formed with many long-term goals in mind. Some of these long-term goals are more conceptual and may seem idealistic. While we acknowledge that these may seem to be overly optimistic, we are taking steps in order to encourage a paradigm shift which would allow these goals to be actualized. These long-term goals include the destruction of “whiteness” and the racial hierarchy, as well as the restoration of true autonomy and self determination to indigenous nations including land reparations. We encourage a widespread recognition of the destructive nature of western civilization as part of a broader effort to dismantle it.
Our shorter term goals include establishing respectful dialogue and building meaningful solidarity with local indigenous communities creating alliances with local indigenous communities. We also wish to provide safer spaces for discussion, mutual education and deconstruction of privilege in its many forms. We strive to make these spaces welcoming and safe to all community members, regardless of how much knowledge or understanding an individual may have of the systems of oppression which we are examining.
Immediate goals include providing support for indigenous resistance actions and struggles, but only when this support is directly asked for. We also promote and host educational events which explore decolonization and the deconstruction of privilege.