Our entire society expresses a racist logic, like a machine programmed to yield inequity. It’s daunting to think practically and strategically about dismantling it. Where do we even start?
The good people at the Center for Applied Nonviolence and Strategies (CANVAS) suggest that it may be helpful to think about changing the world like we might go about planning a birthday party. We begin with the end in mind: What do we want this party to be like? What kind of aesthetic do we want it to have? Do we want people to dance or to chill and talk?
Once we know what kind of event we want, we can start planning backwards from there. Where and when will we get food? What kind of kind of decorations will we need to buy? Who will clean up after the event?
I think there are four major components we’ll want to think through, if we were to apply this idea to racial justice.
We start by imagining the party when all the components are put together and everyone is there having fun. What would the world look like if we were successful in building a racially just society? What kind of economic system would we have? How would schools change? What would criminal justice look like. We start by envisioning the end, because we can’t build what we can’t imagine.
Thinking of what the world could be will naturally reveal what the world is not. We’ll be confronted with the things that have to change in order for the world we envision to emerge?The problems that present themselves as obstacles to our vision will become targets in our struggle for change, breaking the nebulous problem of “racism” into smaller, identifiable parts. This will help us to begin thinking concretely about where and how to direct our energies in the struggle.
Once targets have been identified, we’ll need to figure out what kinds of resources we’ll need to hit them. All targets can’t be taken out at once. Some are beyond our capacity to challenge. But hopefully the process of identifying targets will have revealed some kind of winnable fight. We’ll need to determine what we have and what is needed to wage struggle against those targets.
Strategy and Tactics.
This is the question of how we’ll use our resources to hit the targets to bring about our vision, generally speaking. This is where the question of nonviolence or armed struggle comes in. This is where we discuss what kinds of specific tactics will be useful: boycott? strike? debt revolt? occupation?
Start thinking backwards!
With all that considered, I’d encourage you to think about the following questions:
What do you think the world would look like if we were successful in creating an anti-racist society? What’s your vision of tomorrow?
What targets would you need to change in order to bring that vision about?
What resources do you and your allies have to present a meaningful challenge to those targets?
How do you think those resources can best be organized, mobilized, and managed to challenge those targets?
Like any massive project, the key is breaking it down into manageable goals and steps. A new world is possible. It doesn’t have to be this way.
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