Letter to Potential Participants

THIS SPACE IS FOR US

Dear Reader,

I am grateful you have taken the time to read this letter. It is written at the crossroads of Imagination & Liberation, located at the intersections of So Shifts The Sector (SSTS) and Transmuting white supremacy and patriarchy (Twsp)

SSTS is a conversation space for Black technologists to be and explore unapologetically. It is a space where we forego the implicit and explicit societal narrative that, to be seen and validated, Black people must produce something deemed desirable by those in economic, political, or academic power and/or must be working toward the greater good. This greater good focus is usually relegated to diversity, equity, and inclusion realms. As if producing for capitalist reasons and/or with a racial focus is all we have to offer!

The design and facilitation of SSTS 2023 are seeded in the belief that a deep connection exists between imagination (practical and theoretical) and social transformation.  SSTS conversations are facilitated to create space to build muscle and heart for imagining and exploring from a lens to do less harm to self and others.  Twsp is defined as changing, altering, or lifting the veil of white supremacy and/or patriarchy in form, appearance, or nature. This process is a transformative journey where we engage the reality of oppression and imagine, both individually and collectively, what a less oppressive reality looks and feels like. As we explore the four directions of this year’s conversation journey, I will ground us in this definition of transmuting systems of oppression and mechanism of control and how to engage it from and for the expansion and liberation at the individual level within a collective space.

Imagination is an avenue that does not necessarily require the social, economic, academic, or material perception of power. One’s imagination exists without and within the binds of our current social, political, and economic constructs. Imagination exists within us, regardless of our bank account, neighborhood, gender, race, class, etc. This is not to say, these constructs cannot impact, constrain, oppress, suppress, and control our imaginations. They have this ability, AND what is equally if not more powerful is our immanent power and ability to imagine regardless. Accessing this requires reframing and retooling how and where we spend our “time’” and in what we believe is possible.

I acknowledge that social, political, and economic constructs can and do impact one’s ability to imagine. Still, material consumption (beyond basic needs) is not required to access, develop, and foster imagination. This frightens those that seek to control, suppress and manipulate ingenuity, creativity, and innovation. This is a knowing held closely: Imagination is a power WE ALL HAVE. Learning to grow, deepen, and foster it without social status, economic means, and academic degrees is possible. Imagination opens us up to seeing options and manifesting new possibilities and realities. At the end of the day, one’s imagination bank is as whole or depleted as the individual deems.  I believe it can be one of many superpowers in these times. It is not solely innate and can be developed and fostered. 

If you are considering attending one or more SSTS 2023 conversations, know that each path will be engaged from the perspective that our ways of doing and being can be transmuted (using the ideas of Twsp) with the goal of 1) exploring and deepening a state of being and 2) finding a balance between doing and being. 

My facilitation and prompts stay aligned with an acknowledgment of the “I” (the individual) and the “we” (the group).  I cultivate space for each individual to explore our conversations from their individual reality. Our shared space can hold all the diversity of experiences this generates. Transformation happens more readily while in community with others – and it is important to me that we do this intending to do less harm to ourselves and others. The need for racial and economic equity and liberation arises because of the systems of oppression that rely on complicity, indoctrination, and the colonization of our minds and bodies. In the face of this, I believe that we must each hold regard and focus on our internal journey (the “i”) before engaging externally (the “we”). This is the conversation space I ask us to co-imagine, co-create, and co-foster. 

These conversations will not necessarily explicitly engage these ideas unless the group in attendance moves the conversation in that direction. This is shared to help you understand and see the mindful and thoughtful intent in creating and facilitating SSTS conversations. My sweet spot in this endeavor is holding this intentional container for us to explore, engage, and evolve separately and together. You are invited to take what works and leave what doesn’t while co-fostering our time with curiosity and kindness. 

The choice to join us on this journey is yours. I respect and believe that whatever choice you make, if intentional, is powerful and enough. I look forward to a shared and impactful journey if we meet in August. If we do not, I still offer you compassion, grace, and kindness, in these times of global and local shifts and change.

 

With compassion and grace, 

Diedra Barber

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