MDC DSA Community Guidelines

Metro DC Land Acknowledgment

Adapted from BLM / Defund MPD Coalition & Montgomery County Branch


  • We begin our meeting by acknowledging the stolen land that we occupy in the Washington DC area. The Piscataway (puh·SKA·tuh·way) Indian Nation & Piscataway Conoy Confederacy originally lived in large parts of present-day Maryland and D.C. Due to settler colonialism beginning in the 1600s, many of their people were killed and displaced into Northern Virginia & Pennsylvania, and those who stayed remained in the Southern Maryland area. We affirm that we are on their land and that they are the rightful past, present, and future inhabitants of this land.
  • Connected to all this, slave dealers in the U.S. forced enslaved African people into shackles and pens on this land. We further affirm that this district and this country were built with the stolen labor of enslaved African people, and we resolve that any vision of socialism must center racial justice and commit to fighting white supremacy in all its forms.

MDC DSA Meetings: Participation Guide

Adapted from similar (MDC) DSA documents. Fall 2021


  1. We commit to maintaining a safe and inclusive meeting environment.
    • MDC DSA Code of Conduct: MDC DSA members are expected to conduct themselves with civility and respect toward all other members. Unacceptable member behavior includes: creating an intimidating, offensive, and/or abusive environment for other members; engaging in undemocratic or disruptive behavior; and engaging in any actions detrimental to the purpose or values of the organization.
  2. Please respect identities and pronouns.
    • Each meeting begins with introductions. Every participant can state their name and, if desired, personal pronouns.
    • Please update your Zoom name to include pronouns if you feel comfortable.
      • How to: Click ‘Participants’; Under ‘Participants’ hover over your name; Click ‘More’; then click ‘Rename’.
    • Please use gender-inclusive language by incorporating gender-neutral vocabulary when engaging in chapter business (i.e. – avoid using “you guys,” “dudes,” etc and instead try incorporating “comrades,” “folks,” “everyone”, “you all”, or “y’all”). If you don’t know a comrade’s pronouns, please default to the gender-neutral “they”.
  3. Please refrain from clapping. Instead, use the ASL sign for “applause.”
  4. We use Progressive Stack 
    • Someone volunteers to “take stack” and call on people to speak.
    • If someone who is of a marginalized group or identity, or of a group or identity that is unrepresented in the conversation raises their hand, they go to the top of stack unless they have already contributed significantly to the discussion.
    • Priority goes to people who haven’t spoken or haven’t spoken recently.
    • If you have a new comment, please type “stack” in the chat. [Note to speaker: You may ask someone to demonstrate this now]
    • If you have a comment that is directly relevant to the current speaker’s comment, type “stack dr” in chat. [Note to speaker: You may ask someone to demonstrate this now]
    • [Note to speaker: You may ask someone to volunteer to be Stack Taker now]
  5. Please ask yourself “Why am I Talking?” (W.A.I.T.)
    • We have limited time for discussion. When in discussion, please ask yourself “Why am I talking (WAIT)?”
    • Consider if your comments have already been said, are on topic, or are for a different discussion. You may be able to instead convey your feelings through the ASL sign for applause. 
    • Please park your hobby horse at the gate: We all have issues we love to talk about, but we need to keep comments relevant to the topic.
    • One person talks at a time: Interrupting someone and/or talking over each other is not good socialist praxis.
    • Know whether you need to “step up” or “step back”
      • Please respect others by recognizing how often, much, and loud you’re speaking and whether or not you’re dominating conversation. Step back to leave space for others to contribute. If the facilitator of the meeting asks you to wrap up, recognize that you should step back, especially if you have privileged backgrounds. On the other hand, if you don’t often speak up, we encourage you to do so now!
  6. Assume good faith in others and respect their feelings, background, and cultural differences
    • Please try to speak from experience, speak for yourself, and actively listen to each other. 
    • Encourage yourself and others to maintain a positive attitude, honor the work of others, avoid defensiveness, be open to legitimate critique, and challenge oppressive behaviors in ways that help people grow. We want to “call each other in” rather than calling each other out. If you are challenging someone’s ideas or behavior, do it respectfully, and if you are being challenged, receive it respectfully. Remember, mistakes will be made, nobody is perfect. 
    • Assume Best Intentions, But Challenge – We’re all comrades here, so let’s try to give folks the benefit of the doubt that they’re speaking in good faith. At the same time, challenge others when they say something that you disagree with: giving and accepting legitimate critique is part of how we all learn and grow as socialists.
    • While we all don’t have to agree on everything, we should respect and embrace our diversity of opinions. Many people have different levels of experience, knowledge, and feelings in radical activism and have varied definitions for  “activist” or “radical.” 
    • Recognize that everyone has a piece of the truth, everybody can learn, and everybody has the ability to teach and share something. Don’t use language that’s clearly oppressive or hurtful.
    • Please, refrain from using acronyms or complicated language that could exclude others.
    • One Diva, One Mike – Only one person speaks at a time.
    • Oops, Ouch: Sometimes we say things that come across as hurtful or offensive. If you do that, you can say “oops, ouch” to acknowledge your mistake. At the same time, if someone says something that’s offensive to you, you can say oops, ouch and explain why the statement was offensive. Remember, mistakes will be made, nobody is perfect.
  7. Lastly, have a sense of humor
    • Who said movement building can’t be fun?  This is a great opportunity for people to get to know one another, build lasting friendships and relationships, to laugh, and build a movement.
  1. And, as always, please inform organizers of inappropriate behavior immediately.

Note to speaker: You may want to now prompt ‘popcorn-style’ self introductions. 

You may explain that this means each person says their name, their preferred pronouns if comfortable, states where they live +/- responds to the icebreaker question, then randomly selects the next person to speak. Towards the end, you may need to ask folks to raise their hands if they still need a turn.

Are there many participants? 

You might prompt everyone to just say their name and pronouns. 

Another option in Zoom is to do virtual break-out rooms which often allows more time for icebreaker questions. We recommend you allow at least  several minutes for breakouts and select the option to assign people to rooms ‘automatically.’ Generally, only a (co)host can initiate breakout rooms–so be sure you have already submitted the host code.

Don’t dismiss or deflect an issue raised by members of a marginalized group to which you don’t belong. Often, what makes you uncomfortable contradicts what you’ve been told as someone who belongs to the privileged group. In this case, it’s best to pay attention to other perspectives.”