Human Rights Advocacy 101: re:flexing

This short course is a part of the How to Be an Effective Human Rights Advocate series. In this course, we are focusing on re:flexing which brings us back to ourselves as advocates to build practices of reflection and self-accountability that make our movements stronger. 

What is re:flexing

Re:flexing is an active practice involving looking at one’s own assumptions, beliefs, and judgements to explore how they impact our relationship to self and others. This practice comes from the term “reflexivity” which is often used in the context of qualitative research and social work to refer to the examination of one’s own judgements, assumptions, and belief systems that can influence the data collection and analysis process or the interventions they’re working on. 

In a broader sense, we’re using re:flexing to describe how we do reflexivity in practice in a way that goes beyond an academic exercise. It asks us to consider our perspective(s) and experience(s) as it relates to the work we’re doing and the issues we care about. More than just reflecting, re:flexing requires us to actively take accountability and flex our sense of self in our relationships.

You may have encountered some aspects of re:flexing already in the form of implicit bias training or activities that look at privilege and positionality. This is an important part re:flexing; however, this broader framework dives deeper into the politics of identity, self-interest as a tool to build strong movements, and self-accountability.

Language has to evolve, just like us. In this course, you’ll see us discussing the art of activism as well as art as activism. Shaping the language we use is both – artivism. You’ll see throughout the course and especially in re:covering (The Reflection Sessions) immersive experience, how language can be used to advance our re:flexing practice.

Re:flexing is important for human rights advocates because the systems of oppression that function at an institutional level also function through us interpersonally. If we don’t cultivate a practice of re:flexing, we risk replicating systems of oppression in our relationships. This is harmful in itself, and it threatens our ability to build strong movements for change. 

We need people power to win, and the blindspots produced by our ignorance to the impacts of our experiences and beliefs are an obstacle to organizing our communities towards more just and equitable futures. A strong practice of reflexivity can also uncover our self-interests in a way that can build deep, inviolable solidarity for our movements.

There are four modules in the course which roughly translate to 3 hours of work per week over the course of a month. The online version of this course is free and asynchronous – meaning there are no mandatory live sessions and you can take it at your own pace. Facilitated and bespoke offerings are available as well.