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Monday, November 26, 2018

Yuko Uchikawa: Empowerment Self-Defense, Conflict Resolution, and Peacemaking

Yuko Uchikawa
"I came into self-defense through martial arts. In 1992, I took a five-minute self-defense class at a women's festival: how to use your voice, do a power yell and a palm heel strike, where you strike the nose with the palm of your hand. It had never occurred to me that I could protect myself because I'm a woman and I'm small and not that strong. The next day I signed up for a class. In 1993 some Asian women friends and I started RUCKUS." 
Yuko Uchikawa as told to Rinku Sen "Saving Yourself" in ColorLines, Winter 2004.

About the time that the ColorLines article came out, a self-defense student in Japan asked me, “How do I defend myself verbally and work things out?” That began my transition from Empowerment Self-Defense into conflict resolution and peacemaking. I went back to school to become a mediator and trainer in conflict resolution. Similar to self-defense, empowerment is at the heart of mediation and the process is designed to guide people in making their own decisions. It is effective in addressing immediate needs, put out the fire, and resolve disputes, but it does not change the culture. 

Shifting culture requires building community and creating a sense of belonging. But a sense of belonging is not always positive. For example, white supremacy can be “belonging," so it is key to look at what kind of belonging we are creating. I found Restorative Justice (RJ) to be a process that builds community and works toward social and specifically, racial justice. Justice is when the causes of inequities are addressed and systemic barriers are dismantled. RJ in schools looks at the disproportionality of suspension of Black and Brown students to interrupt the school to prison pipeline. RJ provides a way to bring the harmer and harmed together to dialogue. RJ holds the harmer accountable and at the same time, gives a lot of support so that the harmer could make amends and we all heal as a community. My work in the past five years has been to create restorative justice practices in schools, communities, and organizations. 
Yuko Uchikawa
Open Talk
Ruckus Safety Awareness
New York Center for Interpersonal Development (NYCID)


Monday, November 19, 2018

Wow, I Have a Big Voice!

Sheila and Gracie
I was walking my dog one early morning when I observed a man repeatedly striking a mailbox. I immediately got out my phone to call 911. He spotted me and aggressively crossed the street running right at me.  I thought to myself, "OK, this is it. I'm going to have to fight."

It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I thought I was going to have to fight an adult male several times my size. I yelled "Stop, don't come any closer." My loud voice momentarily stopped him and then he started coming toward me again.

Again, I yelled and he stopped again as he came between the parked cars. He spotted my large dog and I continued to yell. He turned and ran away.

I later found out that others had called the police and that he was apprehended a few blocks away. Thank goodness, I didn't have to fight but I was ready. Thank goodness, I had my big voice (and my big dog).

Sheila Hickey
IMPACT Grad
IMPACT Board Member


Monday, November 12, 2018

If and How You Have Thought About or Used IMPACT

IMPACT chapters in the U.S. and around the world are asking you to join our effort to find out if and how graduates have thought about or used IMPACT. For some of you, that might be last week and others 30 years ago!
Can you help by completing a short survey? It should take about 10 minutes (but take more time if you want!). Your voice and experience matter. IMPACT International is looking forward to hearing from you.
Go to the survey.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Seeking a Better World in the #MeToo Era

IMPACT Chicago was one of 276 organizations that signed a letter challenging social institutions large and small to enact policies to promote safety and ensure that those within those institutions are free from harm. The letter was published it in the New York Times October 27, 2018.

You can find the letter and the list of all those organizations that signed it here.