There are those who believe that we are automatically moving towards a fair and just society. That each new era promises to become more progressive than the one before it. For Black Feminist thinker, Lola Olufemi, however, this is not the case. A socially just future, she suggests, can only come through the hard work, commitment, sacrifice and strategies of people in the present day. Fortunately, according to Olufemi, all the tools we need to build our desired society already exist. They exist in our multiple, everyday acts of resistance. The task is to identify and then utilise the liberatory potential of these acts. This is, in part, how Olufemi defines the Otherwise. A space of liberatory potential and possibility. Or, as she puts, ‘a well of infinity I want us to fall down together’. How do we embrace, or fall into, the otherwise? What are the everyday acts of resistance that might allow us to live free, live better, love more and knit abundance? What do our visions for a liberated society look like?
Inspired by the work of Lola Olufemi, we invited researchers, artists, activists and community members to present their own ideas about the ‘Otherwise’ at our first public conference. We asked contributors to share their visions for a liberated society and strategies to make these visions a reality for all.
The day was split into four main themes:
- Reimagining Place & Space
- State Power
- Trauma & Mental Health
- Identities & Heritage
Through a combination of presentation and performance, speakers introduced a wide range of discussion topics that corresponded with these themes. Topics included: countermapping queer and diasporic communities in the city, the relationship between the voice and radical imagination, the influences of colonialism on the criminal justice system, the impact of climate change on displaced communities, the violence of the adoption system and the liberatory potential of black british futurism.
Audiences were given space to reflect on and discuss these topics throughout the day. They also shared final thoughts on what the ‘Otherwise’ means to them through post-it notes and postcards.
Lola Olufemi, ‘Imagining Otherwise’
“All those movements that clear space and mark our struggle to live free, live better, love more, to knit abundance, all that is the work of another realm that is not-here.”