Learn to build a world where everyone belongs. Take free classes at OBI University.   Start Now

The root of all inequality is the process of othering – and its solution is the practice of belonging

We all yearn for connection and community, but we live in a time when calls for further division along the well-wrought lines of religion, race, ethnicity, caste, and sexuality are pervasive. This ubiquitous yet elusive problem feeds on fears – created, inherited – of the "other." While the much-touted diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are undeniably failing, and activists narrowly focus on specific and sometimes conflicting communities, Belonging without Othering prescribes a new approach that encourages us to turn toward one another in unprecedented and radical ways.

Cover of Belonging without Othering by john a. powell and Stephen Menendian

The pressures that separate us have a common root: our tendency to cast people and groups in irreconcilable terms – or the process of "othering." This book gives vital language to this universal problem, unveiling its machinery at work across time and around the world. To subvert it, john a. powell and Stephen Menendian make a powerful and sweeping case for adopting a paradigm of belonging that does not require the creation of an "other." This new paradigm hinges on transitioning from narrow to expansive identities – even if that means challenging seemingly benevolent forms of community-building based on othering.

Purchase this book from:

As the threat of authoritarianism grows across the globe, this book makes the case that belonging without othering is the necessary, but not the inevitable, next step in our long journey toward creating truly equitable and thriving societies. The authors argue that we must build institutions, cultivate practices, and orient ourselves toward a shared future, not only to heal ourselves, but perhaps to save our planet as well. Brimming with clear guidance, sparkling insights, and specific examples and practices, Belonging without Othering is a future-oriented exploration that ushers us in a more hopeful direction.

About the authors

john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in civil rights, structural racialization, housing, and democracy, and the Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute at University of California, Berkeley. He is a former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Stephen Menendian is Assistant Director at the Othering and Belonging Institute, where he manages many ongoing research projects, including the Inclusiveness Index and the California Zoning Atlas.