"Nothing about us without us" is a slogan in anti-oppression activism, introduced by disability activists who borrowed it from foreign policy principles.
The principle is that members of an oppressed group decide what constitutes anti-oppression activism.
Examples of failures of this principle include:
- designing, producing and marketing assistive devices for an impairment without at least constant consultation with and input from disabled people with that impairment
- assuming that poor people would make all the same choices as middle-class people if they had economic freedom, and that poor people don't ever make valid life choices unless they are the same as middle-class choices (common areas where this is a problem are: health and diet, savings and wealth, education, extended vs nuclear families)
- agitating for geek work like computer programming to be made "easier" to get more women involved, when geek women aren't saying the work is too hard, they are saying structural aspects of geekdom are sexist
- starting a project to get more of minority X involved in some aspect of tech culture (eg. more women speakers), when you are not yourself a member of that minority, and without acknowledging the existing work of members of that minority