Afrofuturism and Ecology for Social Change

The following was written by and from the perspective of CM Change Specialist, Kristin Lacy.

Cover of the Emergent Strategy book by Brown
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown

In celebration of the Black voices that have given us so much wisdom in the social change field, we’re highlighting Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy book. Brown creatively explores our human relationship to change through metaphors from ecological wonders and afrofuturism wisdom. Drawing from Octavia Butler – one of history’s most important Black science fiction writers – she writes “All organizing is science fiction…. Meaning that social justice work is about creating systems of justice and equity in the future, creating conditions that we have never experienced. That is a futurist focus, and the practices of collaboration and adaptation and transformative justice, are science fictional behavior.”

Standing in solidarity with protestors in Denver over the last several weeks, the simple and powerful assertion Black Lives Matter has even more meaning after reading this from Brown: “We say, Black Lives Matter! An Afrofuturist assertion. Because we see something other than the normative truths of this place… we see something that is not here…. We see the future, cast over this devastating present moment.”

Brown also grounds the principles of emergent strategy in nature. From mycellium networks to the collective efficacy of ants to the decentralized murmurations of starlings across the sky, she encourages us to learn from the ways ecology is constantly emerging and adapting and transforming. Emergent strategy is a self-help, society-help and planet-help book that is so timely, reminding us that the world and the systems we operate in are ever-changing, and thus we too must learn to “feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us” in order to transform our societies towards justice. In celebration of Black leaders in the social change field, I highly recommend Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy!