This is our theory—meaning it is our belief about how our desired change can be brought about. It is informed in part by theories that have been articulated by others—for example, on liberation, critical pedagogy, Black feminist thought, and paradigm shifts—and in part by the collective thinking of the Progressive Movement and the collective lived experience of staff and leadership at re:power.
Our program model
We believe that IF…
• Women of color and trans and gender-expansive people of color build a community of co-conspirators who are deeply aligned in their knowledge of and skills in liberatory organizing,
• Co-conspirators put the theories of liberatory organizing into action within their organizations and formations, and
• Co-conspirators are honored and respected as their whole selves, and can access the support they need to sustain them in their leadership…
AND IF this happens at scale,
THEN a critical mass of co-conspirators will catalyze a broad-based shift from traditional to liberatory organizing, and the ideology and practice of liberatory organizing will become the “new normal” among social justice movements and their leaders,
AND THEN social justice movements will succeed in their efforts to dismantle white supremacy and patriarchy, thereby rebalancing power for their communities.
AND ultimately, we will witness the emergence of a multiracial democracy, liberated from the oppressive systems of white supremacy and patriarchy.
Problem to solve
Over the centuries, communities with the least power to use the prevailing systems to their advantage have had to learn to fight in their own ways.
In our white supremacist and patriarchal system, the most marginalized individuals have been women of color and trans and gender-expansive people of color. Out of necessity, these communities have developed organizing practice that is pro-Black and grounded in community, collective action and abundance. Thus far, however, a broad-based shift in ideology and practice from traditional organizing to liberatory organizing has not occurred.
The challenge has three dimensions:
- Lack of investment in women leaders of color and trans and gender-expansive leaders of color, and capacity building and leadership development that is rooted in the dominant culture, have together prevented a critical mass of aligned co-conspirators of liberatory organizing from arising.
- These leaders have lacked the support they need to successfully change deeply entrenched ways of working within an organization.
- Women of color and trans and gender-expansive people of color experience high rates of burnout amidst the extremely taxing job of organizing within a hostile system.
The result is continued self-perpetuation of the status quo.
In pursuit of liberatory organizing
Our theory of change helps to guide our work by clarifying the outcomes we must design our programming to produce—namely, the outcomes of coherence, embodiment, and sustainment.
It clarifies that our threshold of success—what it means to fulfill our mission—is that liberatory organizing becomes the “new normal” among social justice movements and their leaders, which guides the scale at which we must be thinking and planning. It also clarifies our focus on women of color and trans and gender-expansive people of color, as well as on the organizations they lead, as the subjects of our capacity building and leadership development.
Download our full organizational strategy to learn more.