Being part of IMPACT and taking the Women of Color Basics class has had a lasting and profound influence on my sense of confidence and safety as I navigate the world as a larger bodied, black, queer, masculine of center woman. I navigate the world with many privileges and complex identities, but never once thought that a self defense class was for me. I always envisioned being ‘othered’ and feeling excluded so I never considered joining.
Over the years, I have found that due to my gender expression, I am often expected to play the role of ‘protector’. I was once shoved by an ex partner in front of a man who had touched her inappropriately, and was told to protect her. I immediately felt my knees go weak as I recalled a number of similar situations where I felt threatened by men. I quickly resorted to my three cardinal sins of survival; humor, charisma and flattery. I found myself showering this man with a number of compliments to ease the tension in the situation to allow for me to redirect my partner to safety. Later that night I felt disgusted with myself. I knew he would continue that behavior because he had the privilege and power to do so.
Fortunately, I was connected to IMPACT by a good friend who has taken the class and also volunteered the following year as an assistant. However, I had just been laid off and had no extra finances. To my surprise, I was able to take the WOC Basics class on scholarship. I was thrilled!
My experience with the three day intensive class was a restorative one. I was greeted by an array of women from all ethnicities and life experiences. This made me feel safe to fully engage in the class and I knew it was the right class for me! I was able to share my story and exercise full force on the mock assailants which was a liberating experience. I was not only able to tap into my physical power but most importantly the power of my voice. Additionally I was taught how to be a helpful bystander in the event that someone else was in danger. Lastly, I was afforded the opportunity to customize an unconventional fight with my inner critic. I left the class feeling confident and with the ability to set boundaries as I navigate the world and current relationship. I have been able to reinvent who I am.
I now have the opportunity to join the board and I would love to make this class accessible to the black and POC LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) communities.
Therefore I am pledging to raise $6,000 but I can’t do it alone. Please help me empower individuals like myself through the IMPACT Bay Area class. donate to this page to support my campaign!!! https://www.impactbayarea.org/shawneshia
Does your company match donations? Find out here! https://doublethedonation.com/giving-tuesday/
All you need is the IMPACT Bay Area EIN #: 94-3123451 and address: PO Box 23831, Oakland, CA 94623