Reject the Premise


“I reject the premise” has become a go-to phrase for me when being asked to work within an oppressive construct. There are so many times that I have been asked things or been asked to participate in conversations with folk where answering their problematic questions would only lead to problematic answers that support oppressive structures. If you work for social justice, you will often come up against people whose status quo is being threatened by your presence. They will often fight back with questions that are meant to cement the status quo. They are coming to you to reestablish the metanarrative that you are bucking. The temptation, then, is to provide a counternarrative by answering the question and using that time to argue your point. However, in the face of oppression, a counternarrative is not enough. What those who work for social justice seek to present is a metanarrative that does not seek to tweak current oppressive structures but overturn them and replace them with liberating practices.  Below, I present three questions often used to undermine workers for social justice. I state the problematic thinking behind these questions and suggest appropriate ways to reject the premise in your response.

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