Thoughts on class, whiteness and inclusion relating to Sol Cafe's engagement with Coop Brum

I was talking to someone who had been to the Radical Routes Resist + Renew training, who, when I was describing Coop Brum’s decision making processes and culture asked “Have these people done any training on white supremacy?”

Apparently that RR training covered the overlap between middle class culture and white supremacy, and named behaviours such as ‘the worship of words’, alongside agendas and formal meetings as behaviours that reproduce white supremacy.

Leo criticises Sol Cafe people for not ‘bothering’ to join the forum, and asks, “I’m just not sure why you folks didn’t speak out at the AGM and the resulting week long decision making process about any of the other proposals. If you don’t agree with the decision making process, then why did you or do you not propose a different process?”

I’m not sure if at the time Sol Cafe people understood the decision making process enough to know that they disagreed with it. I think it might be more useful to consider what barriers people are experiencing which impact their engagement.

I’m fairly tech-savvy, but find the forum pretty confusing. Meetings don’t work for everyone, especially those from marginalised backgrounds who lack confidence, or experience a sense of cultural alienation in a formal meeting. Meetings that last for 4 hours are an additional barrier. But most of all, what I’ve been hearing from Sol Cafe people is that they find it difficult to engage with the, “negativity and censorious meetings which sap the life out of me. As well as the ideological purity thing.” “Meetings often left me feeling unenthusiastic and unclear, leaving a sense of don’t do/can’t do.” “I felt completely detached from anything coopbrum because their ways of interacting and relating to other humans feels so alien to me.”

It might also be relevant that one person at the AGM might not have spoken up because they had already experienced being talked over, and had felt that class and patriarchy were a big part of that interaction.

Meetings that last for 4 hours are an additional barrier.

It wasn’t a four hour meeting though. That is unfair.

Here is the agenda:

As you can see it was a talk, then a social then a one and a half hour meeting. Considering that it is a requirement to have a Annual General Meeting, it had to be done as we’d be operating for a whole year.

It would have been an in person even of course if it was safe to do so. All these online meetings are not fun.

I’d also say that Sol Cafe make decisions in weekly meetings too and the organisers and majority white as well? It’s deffo a problem, considering the diverse demographics of the people who were involved in the Solidarity Kitchen but it also applies to both groups no?

One of the things we are planning with the media co-op, is thinking about the racial diversity of the potential editorial board and advertising for the potential paid position in a way that is accessible to folks from marginalised communities. We’re still in the planning stage.

Hi Leo. The four hour meeting was a meeting you weren’t at. I wasn’t talking about the AGM. xx

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Hi just wanted to comment specifically on the meeting mentioned, it was a meeting in which Sol Cafe has proposed 14 proposals. Leo enquired as to whether the proposal was to take it in parts, and people from Sol Cafe said that was the plan. This is why the meeting took a long time. The assertion that this is part of a ‘worship of words’ and formal meetings, just seems quite unreasonable.

The AGM as leo pointed out had an interlude during which people were able to eat food cooked in the kitchen and made available for collection beforehand, as you can see we went to quite some length to ensure participants felt able to engage in the decision making process. In the meeting you mentioned - the proposing of 14 proposals by Sol Cafe rowing back on decisions made at the AGM, at a time when none of these efforts were made, seem to me to contribute to the negativity you say some people experienced and which I also felt in that meeting.

In the past before there was an attempt to separate Sol Cafe meetings have generally kept to an hour at the regular agreed time of 6.30. On the other hand Sol Cafe meeting times are Monday mornings 10am a time people who were working explained wasn’t suitable for them.

That we had a 4 hour meeting was probably my fault more than anything, we should have always planned to do it over two meetings and put more thought into how it was presented.

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