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An Ethical Relationship Anarchy Demands Anti-Racist Practice

Anarchism brings recognition of how class, state, and capitalism play a role in creating and maintaining many axes of oppression. Relationship anarchism means recognizing how these triad, plus heteronormativity in its widest sense, negatively affect our interpersonal relationships and our individual flourishing.

We are contributing to the reproduction of structures of oppression whenever we allow unquestioned hierarchies, privileges, and values to dictate how we behave towards each other. This includes racial privileges.

Identifying as a relationship anarchist does not innoculate you against being racist. Especially if your relationship anarchy goes no further than equally valuing your friends and sexual partners.

To be an ethical relationship anarchist means being committed to dismantling the deep structures of power that are concealed and normalized by our dominant cultural narratives. This includes structures of racism — both in the institutions of society, and in the day-to-day ways we relate to each other. If you think you can just decide not to pay attention to all the ways that your relationships with people are shaped against your will by the way that capital, class, race, gender, and power accumulate in your life, you’re not practicing ethical relationship anarchy at all, you’re living in a self-indulgent libertarian fantasy.

For many of us, discovering RA and stepping out of the heteronormative context meant a lot of conscious unlearning of "common sense," as well as accepting that we all have a way to go as individuals as well as communities if we want to dismantle the current hegemony of monogamy. As relationship anarchists in a capitalist, heteronormative, racist society, we have to be committed to ongoing anti-oppression practices in ourselves and our communities. We cannot be content only to challenge the oppression that comes from monogamy, without also fighting against systemic racism, wealth inequality, and gendered prejudices. Even if we are a beneficiary of some of them. This is hard work, but necessary if we want to avoid hypocrisy and build a world where we can truly meet each other as equals and have relationships based on an abundance of love.

Although identifying as a relationship anarchist doesn't qualify as anti-racism by itself, relationship anarchy can give us powerful tools to think about how power, the accumulation of resources, and systemic injustices affect how we live and love together. We can understand how the political is personal. We can use these concepts and experiences to be mindful and intentional about how we use our own privileges. Practicing relationship anarchism ethically will make anti-racist work part of a larger liberatory project to which we all should be committed. ,

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