Recently I have come to the conclusion that for me to authentically participate in anti-oppression work, I have to do it from a place that is informed by my ancestral culture. That is to say, my anti-oppression practice cannot be centred in the traditions of modern Western/Eurocentric thought.
A big part of my recent personal decolonization journey has been to live with a more energy-based understanding of my body as well as the world. There’s a rich tradition in Japanese/Asian wisdom traditions that sees the world as a field of subtle energy, usually referred to as ki or chi. The impact this concept has had on my dance, spiritual life and relationships is something that has been simply incredible.
I have also been quietly thinking about what would it mean to decolonize anti-oppression work from this understanding.
One of the interesting things that came up from incorporating an energy-based understanding of the world in to my social justice thinking was that it shifted my understanding of what oppression actually is.
I would say for the most part, we have come to understand oppression as social, political, and economic systems that undermine communities and individuals. Basically, we think of oppression as a big system that impacts those that live under it. I would say that this view is heavily influenced by the spaces in which a lot anti-oppression discourse takes place: Western academia.
Truth be told, I think a lot of the ways we approach social justice work is through a very Western allopathic frame that is focused on symptoms.
Coming at oppression in a more energetic frame, such as Chinese medicine, reveals something quite different about oppression.
One of the core principle of energetics is that subtle (more ethereal and invisible) energy organizes dense (more material or visible) energy.
Following this, a world view based on ki/chi/energy tells us that oppression, at the root, is an energetic phenomenon and NOT about gender, race, sexuality, class, ability or any other oppressive factor that is a part of our denser layer of existence.
Energetics suggests that oppression, in all of its manifestations as thought, feelings and systems, is an ailment caused by energy imbalances, just like auto immune conditions and hormone problems.
I am very excited about this trajectory as it really opens up an approach to oppression work that is very embodied and can move past the surface symptoms and attack its root.
What if we understood homophobia/transphobia/hetereosexism to be an expression of energy blockages in our genital regions and worked on it as such?
What if we understood racism as a manifestation of energy blockages in our brain that cause us to be judgemental and meditated on this?
What if we saw our society as a body itself and used oppression work as a way to move around blockages of energy represented as stuck behaviours and ideas?
These are the kind of ideas have bouncing around in my head and I am definitely very excited to bring it on in 2017!