The Untokening is a multiracial collective that centers the lived experiences of marginalized communities to address mobility justice and equity.
For too long, dominant narratives in mobility advocacy have drawn from the experiences of the most privileged. In advocacy spaces, questions of equity are often treated as an afterthought or sidebar. Advocates “from diverse backgrounds” are often invited to the table to speak on behalf of an “underserved” population. While our own personal experiences or those of the people we represent are generally welcomed as anecdotal insight or emotional touchstones, that input is often set aside if it challenges the mainstream agenda.
The Untokening centers the lived experiences of people, particularly leaders from marginalized identities as well as leaders who are actively engaging, organizing and advocating alongside people within marginalized communities, to address mobility justice and equity. We aim to develop networks, trainings, and resources that support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) movement leaders who want to bring their lived experiences within marginalized communities into their professional work.
Justice-oriented advocates are generally denied the opportunity to bring their whole selves to a space and are more likely to be tokenized — forced to pick their battles, to speak within a constrained set of categories, to suffer outright dismissal for straying too far from those categories, and to serve as stand-ins for the entirety of the diverse communities they represent. Read more about the impetus for the Untokening on Streetsblog LA
Since its founding in 2016, the Untokening has hosted two national convenings, in Atlanta and Los Angeles. These gatherings have brought together hundreds of diverse advocates and community leaders to:
- engage in candid discussions about street safety, displacement / gentrification, community engagement and culture
- share experiences of tokenism, sharpen decolonizing tools to grow beyond it, and identify actions to help guide the mobility system toward equity
- address the personal and interpersonal work it takes to be Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in mobility advocacy, planning, and policy spaces
Co-created with these leaders from across the country, the Untokening has released:
- Untokening 1.0 — Principles of Mobility Justice : These principles were drafted using perspectives gathered at Untokening Atlanta, on November 13, 2016. Instead of offering ready-made solutions, these principles outline recommendations for mobility justice that are rooted in the liberation of historically marginalized communities.
- Untokening Leadership Succession and Executive Hiring in Active Transportation Advocacy: Given many vacancies within the leadership of active transportation organizations around the U.S., the Untokening shared what leadership elements we believe will aid in the transition to just, equitable, sustainable transportation within the communities we know and serve.
Photos: Top image by Argenis Apolinario from Untokening Atlanta,
middle image by Michael Anaya from Untokening California