Let’s remind ourselves to be more aware of power dynamics. Be on the lookout for it constantly, because, like hummus, it’s often present in every situation in our work, but usually not as delicious. Here are a few questions to help guide your analysis:

  • Who holds the power in the situation?
  • What is this power based on? Is it seniority, hierarchy, race, gender, age, class, etc., or some combination of factors?
  • What are obvious ways it manifests?
  • What are subtler ways it manifests that we may not be thinking about?
  • What are the consequences of defying the power holder?
  • How are marginalized people affected by these dynamics?
  • Are there mechanisms already in place to balance out these power dynamics?
  • What can we do to mitigate the dynamics?
  • Can mitigation be enough to neutralize the potential harm of the dynamics?

The question of how marginalized people are affected is particularly important, as it touches on equity, which is another thing that many of us think we understand and yet keep forgetting to apply in our everyday practices. In situations where power dynamics are present, it is usually people of color, women, disabled people, LGBTQIA+ people, and others of marginalized identities that are most negatively affected.

Read the full article about power dynamics by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.