Reflections on My Internship at Catalyst
By Cile Beatty
I have had the great pleasure of being an intern with the Catalyst Project from the beginning of February to early May; a 20 hours a week internship. This internship has been part of my masters program at Starr King School for the Ministry. I graduate this May with a Masters in Religious Leadership for Social Change (MASC), with an emphasis in countering oppressions. I went to Starr King to ground my activism in Spirit, seeking to create a means for personal sustainability within my activist work. I selected the Catalyst Project as my internship to develop my politics and ground my activism in anti-racist principles.
Although the Catalyst Project is a small collective they were able to provide an amazing internship program. I had the privilege of participating in the release of their annual report and in fundraising efforts. There was a political reading/study component to my internship and opportunities to meet with those within the collective to discuss movement building issues. I joined members of Catalyst at community events, like the release of Color of Violence: the INCITE! anthology and actions, like the recent May Day demonstration in San Francisco. The internship also entailed regular one-on-one mentoring meetings with a few members of the Catalyst Advisory Board. This opportunity was truly amazing. I mostly used these mentorship opportunities as a means to discuss and develop strategies for bringing an anti-racism/anti-oppression lens more fully into the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) movement; I am currently a Council representative for SOAW. The Council is the decision making body for the movement. The goal of the SOAW is to expose and close the School of the Americas (SOA) – a combat training school for Latin American soldiers and police located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The SOA was renamed in 2001 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), this is an example of the Department of Defense recycling a strategy used when public schools in the South that were on the Federal governments list for failing to integrate; these schools often closed one day and reopened the next day under a different name, no longer on the Federal government list and able to maintain federal financial assistance. For more information on the SOAW visit our website at www.soaw.org .
Throughout my seminary program and my internship with Catalyst I have learned the value and the need for constant engagement in the reflective process which includes: study, analysis, praxis and reflection. For these past two years in seminary I have been examining what I have termed the “intersection of nonviolence and privilege.” I believe that unexamined privilege has had a negative impact on the practice of nonviolence; and for nonviolence to be successful in creating the paradigm shift needed to end the cycle of violence and injustice it must be grounded in an understanding of the intersections of oppression and privilege. Nonviolence must expose the impact of both injustice and privilege; it must embrace anti-racism/anti-oppression principles and practices.
NOTE: The Catalyst internship is designed for social justice activists who have a demonstrated history of anti-racist work, have already gone through anti-racist training, and want to help build Catalyst Project. Catalyst internships are unpaid, 20 or more hours a week and minimum 3 month commitments. We currently take one or two internships on at a time.
My internship with Catalyst has helped me to develop my political analysis and has shown me where I need to continue to grow in my political education. I look forward to continuing this journey and I plan to stay connected with the Catalyst Project. Thank you to all the members and advisors of the Catalyst Project for making this unique internship possibility a reality.