The work of anti-oppression and liberation should be one of joy – it should be a natural way of our work. There is nothing more joyful that undoing the nonsense of colonization and whiteness. I believe that the work of white supremacy is hard and complicated. The work of inclusion, equity and justice – that is the work in our hearts. We already know how to do this. Whiteness and oppression has erased this knowing.
Let’s start from a different place in our work. We usually start from what is probable, allowable, permissible. We start with what has been given to us.
Let’s start with what is necessary and what is possible. When we do, our ability to do this work joyfully and impactfully grows, and we cause less harm.
Probable, allowable, permissible.
We’ve internalized what we are allowed to do and how we are supposed to be. We hold biases about what folks in power will allow, approve of, or “buy into” (just listen to the commodification of change making – as if you could ever package change in just the right way that folks in power would actually “buy” it). When we start in this place, we center the status quo and we work with a small vision – a vision constrained by colonized forms of power-holding, of gatekeeping, and of anointing change.
We know the outcome of this. We know what will happen with what we are doing now – even with many of the very good efforts. At best we will see minimal change at the margins, with little trust that these changes will even be sustained over time. This is not about incremental change – it is about what is meaningful and commensurate with the current state of affairs.
But – when we shift to what is necessary+possible, we are situated in relationship to the realities of oppression. We allow ourselves to begin with being a witness to oppression, suffering, and harm. This requires that we let ourselves feel and then take action: observe, feel, act. Our actions change when we start with what is required of us based on our observations. "What is necessary to alleviate suffering?" is a very different question than asking "What is allowable?" What happens when we let ourselves be in close relationship with those who are experiencing oppression, harm, and marginalization, and then ask: what is most necessary?
Ask that out loud… what is most necessary because I bear witness?
And then, we start with centering what is possible over what is probable. What is probable usually sits within the approved confines of white dominant patriarchal norms.
Asking what is possible opens up big vision – it opens up spaciousness for creative ideas, building new tools, finding new ways of being in this work. What is possible allows us to move outside of the current systems of permission and to catalyze creative thinking rooted in delivering what is necessary. We can design and undesign anything. Anything – anything is possible.
What is possible means we know that there are other ways of being and doing.
What is possible means we can hold big vision and take daily steps towards making the vision possible.
What is possible means our actions amount to something more than this moment and something more than just for ourselves.
What is possible means we are capable of radical imagination.
Together, necessary+possible creates radically different pathways to action, and within that space we can model our own liberation – that we can move outside of what is permissible as an act of our own agency. Our futures, we know, are bound together including that of the environment – we are an ecosystem. We have no option but to do what is necessary for those who are forcibly marginalized from accessing power to do it themselves.
* Necessary+Possible™ is one singular concept (and word) because they are intertwined and interdependent.