All the people are my people.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion (PRI) is a way of being, of leading. PRI is a philosophy about creating just, loving, and creative spaces in the world.
But PRI is more than just a philosophical approach, it is an activity. PRI requires reflection and exploration, and it leads us to make decisions about what our next steps will be to involve everyone within those spaces where we have leadership responsibility.
Practicing PRI means we have to change.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion is a framework for liberation and justice to use when we are in positions of leadership, when we are given–or have taken–responsibility within a group or organization. Whether it is the formal and constant leadership of organizational leaders, or if the leadership is temporary for a particular event, our responsibility is to plan for, include, and involve everyone–broadly speaking–in our event.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion is not a box to check off in a planning process, i.e., “put out a ‘call for diversity,’ so check inclusion done”; it is instead a lifelong practice. It is not a thing to do, but a way to look and to perceive. It is a way to examine privilege, to take on responsibility, and to work for justice.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion lives at the intersection of trauma-aware and anti-oppression practices. PRI challenges leaders with enough tension to require growth and not permit avoidance or denial, while holding enough space for the complexities of leaders’ own histories, identities, and experiences to remain attended to but not centered.
It is preemptive because we, as leaders, are responsible to figure out, in advance, how to involve everyone in the experience or meeting or activity, and we make those changes without attendees having to make their needs known because we have already planned for them. We do this because this is what we want. We want a community that is full and welcoming, a community that creates justice and well-being. How we make this happen is not something most of us were taught. We are always limited by the framework we inherited, we perceive the world the way we were taught to perceive the world. Now, we are empowered to choose a new way.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion means that we intentionally position ourselves, before we know anything at all about anyone in the room, to presuppose that everyone is already, and always, in the room. We don’t wait for an individual to tell us what they need, and THEN meet their needs, we create experiences that preemptively involve them. The burden is on those in leadership to be aware of the needs of the people we are most likely to miss.
The word radical is there in the middle because, if leaders (and I mean here those empowered to be “in charge”) are doing this correctly, the created experience won’t be the expected experience. It might even be dramatically, radically different.
Inclusion doesn’t simply mean that we include others in our circle of what we already do and how we do it, but expand the experience to encourage deep involvement and make it possible. We involve others in the creation of our projects and communities, our “we” becomes larger, and what we do and how we do it transforms into something new.
As we grow and learn, we have to let go of how we think about some things and think differently, and of how we do things and do them differently. We have to let go of the presupposition that it is we in leadership alone who do those things, at times. PRI done honorably means that while we have been given authority and power, we frequently give up decision-making, authority, and defer to those who join us as we, together, find a new way.
Preemptive Radical Inclusion means that we notice all the privilege we bear and when we exert it. We must examine if we claim to be “leveraging it for good” or “using it for good” to simply keep it, or if we are being intentional about the choice between using it for good and setting it aside for justice. We can’t fall into the fallacy that good is the same as justice. The space and judgment necessary to discern between the two is full of dialogue and reflection.
We are all both privileged and challenged, we benefit from and are oppressed by our communities and nations. It is our responsibility, when we are in positions of leadership, to figure out how we can be part of a liberation struggle that reaches back in history and forward toward justice.
justice and Peace Consulting provides one on one executive consulting for learning or exploring complex situations. Workshops options include a one hour talk, a three hour workshop for teams, a 6 hour introductory kick-starting workshop, and weekend retreats for in-depth exploration. All JPC workshop experiences include concrete best practices and next steps/next moves, and can be modified/adapted for the particular challenges you are experiencing in your own context.