Principle 6: Balance Problem and Possibility

As abolitionists, we are compelled to see and name the problem in our communication, which is at the root of our pursuit— dismantling the inherent and systemic problems that plague communal advancement for oppressed folx. Experiencing daily moments of a system that fails to center the very oppressed communities at the greatest risk of being neglect from participation in the ideals of the American project can often create a communicated sentiment of fatigue, by over-privileging all the problems in this country, and there is no shortage of problems to address. But as abolitionists, we must make an intentional decision to communicate the work of hope that we are called to lead our students in doing in response to the traumas plaguing their lives and communities. Mariame Kaba, an educator, prison abolitionist, and community organizer, contends that "hope is a discipline," in that it must be practiced as a habitual act if we are going to cultivate a consciousness to imagine possibility. In that sense, a freedom framing must be a balanced framing of problem and predominantly possibility—one that assumes our communal ability to address, strategize, and, ultimately, abolish any teaching and learning problem, oppression, or repression by exercising the discipline of hope. Emphasizing possibility as a deeply abolitionist practice counters oppression fatigue often experienced by teaching and learning leaders. In this state of fatigue, leaders experience such a barrage of sociocultural and sociopolitical injustices and inequities that leaders resign to apathy because of the perceived impossibility to abolish any of them.

However, we must not confuse possibility and positivity in this principle. An intentional, abolitionist use of possibility, grounded in hope, uses communally conscious strategies and tactics to address the intersectional barriers for oppressed folx regardless of the emotive impact of the strategies. That is to say, abolitionists are less concerned about the discipline of hope yielding positivity if it ultimately yields possibility. At the same time, abolitionists contend that, as our nation continues its expansion of freedom to be inclusive of all oppressed folx, it inherently yields a more hopeful nation, which in fact yields a more positive nation. In effect, hope produces its own positivity. As teaching and learning leaders, then, we must intentionally monitor the problem-to-possibility balance within our communication by asking ourselves a simple but significant question—where's the hope? Not a flaccid hope that solely looks to the future submissively, but a discipline of hope that looks to the future with a strategically synchronized effort that actualizes the human imagination of freedom.