Keep Storming

Protests Continue In Pittsburgh In Wake Of Last Week's Police Shooting Of Antwon Rose
(photo credit: Time Magazine; Antwon Rose protest

As a social work student one of the concepts we explored was group dynamics, with a handy rhyming scheme to help us remember: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. This described, respectively, the process of a group of people coming together for some purpose, testing and establishing boundaries, roles and processes, settling into a status quo and pursuing the function and goals of the group, and finally, terminating their association.

Perhaps most important to remember was that the process was not rigid, and groups could revert to the storming and norming stages at any point. I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot recently because it describes where we are as a nation right now– for what is a nation but a large group of people who exist as a collective? From indigenous peoples defending their lands and natural resources, to black and brown communities rising up against police brutality, the prison-industrial complex and white supremacy at large, to immigrants and refugees fighting our perverse immigration policies, to women claiming their power in the political arena and injecting accountability into our patriarchal societal order, it is clear that America is “storming.”

This is reassuring to me when I get depressed/ obsessed/ enraged at any one of the multitudes of wrongs being wrought upon these and other communities, because it is very easy to miss the forest (the rejection of the status quo and gradual reordering of society) for the trees (individual indignities, injustices, and policy setbacks). Storming is hard for sure, with egos, perspectives and agendas bound to come into conflict, but what is clear is that norming is our inevitable next stage– the recognition and acceptance that people of color and women are carving out an increasing role in deciding how our country will operate.

What is not inevitable however is for these gains to be consolidated and maintained. An increase in representation and power by these communities necessarily means a decrease in others– and the behavior we’ve seen in the country this week and the last few years– is but a small testament to how hard they will fight to retain it. Still, in what I recognize as a very hard time for victims of sexual assault, for Muslims, refugees and immigrants, and people of color at large, I am finding hope in our continued storming.



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