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Building a Power-full Future through Radical Pragmatism

Centering Our Voices as We Make the Change — Because We Are the Change

Authors: Common Future, Liberation in a Generation

With each economic crisis this country faces there is a predictable pattern in responses. First, an analysis of how we got to a particular point, usually noting the uniqueness of said recurring crisis, and then, depending on where you fall in the political spectrum, a chorus of promises to do things differently.

Absent many of these conversations is a discussion of power. A discussion of who determines what’s right or wrong, what choices exist, and what actions are taken. What resources are shared. What the future looks like and how we get there.

Focusing on power would force many of us to acknowledge that it is both concentrated in the hands of a few and that this concentration is incredibly profitable. That the crises we experience — COVID-19, economic inequity, violence, and more — are handled with the needs of those with power in mind. That Black and Brown people often suffer the worst outcomes in times of crisis and this is the predictable result of centuries of oppression, extraction, and exclusion.

We at Common Future and Liberation in a Generation know that economic power and political power are how we upend this pattern. The only way out for people of color is through; we must create a new path forward that we will embark on together, collectively owning the dismantling and restructuring of the institutions and systems that entrench our oppression. Our audacious vision is bold and practical. It’s Radical Pragmatism.

Radical Pragmatism and the Way Forward

Radical Pragmatism is a framework that names how we can move from an oppression economy to an equitable, power-full one. Radical Pragmatism aims to transform and upend systems of oppression and harm while acknowledging current realities and opportunities to shift power toward that vision. It is based on 10 core principles, which differentiate it from other justice frameworks:

  1. Economic liberation requires always telling the truth about the centrality of racism in our economy.
  2. Racial and economic justice are one in the same.
  3. We need to fix systems, not people.
  4. People of color must lead throughout the movement ecosystem.
  5. Efforts must be grounded in the material realities of people’s lived experiences.
  6. Private actors — and private capital — must be utilized as allies of racial and economic justice.
  7. Bold antiracist government policy will win economic liberation.
  8. Liberation can be actualized in one generation.
  9. To succeed, we must build, consolidate, and impose our political power.
  10. All people of color belong.

Centering Our Voices as We Make the Change — Because We Are the Change

Each of our teams is leading vital new work that demonstrates the power and potential of Radical Pragmatism. Check out the framework in action:

An Economy for All: Building a Black Women Best Legislative Agenda is a vital congressional report produced by LibGen in partnership with the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls (CCBWG). The report is rooted in Black Women Best (BWB) — a framework that argues for our government to bring Black women from the margins to the center and intentionally creates economic policies that pull Black women out of economic precarity and into economic prosperity; doing so necessarily means that everyone will benefit. It affirms that none of us can be free until Black women are free. Because — as the Combahee River Collective named — our freedom necessitates the destruction of EVERY system of oppression.

Led by LibGen’s Azza Altiraifi and Kendra Bozarth, who collaborated with over 40 other Black women to produce this visionary endeavor, we literally put Black women at the center of this project — and the Radical Pragmatism principles lit our way.

Later this month, the winners of the Common Future Policy Incubator will be announced. The Common Future Policy Incubator exemplifies leading by doing. Through the selection process, Common Future is prioritizing ideas that are race and power explicit, channel repairative solutions, redress the root of harm, and offer ingenuity. Through the Policy Incubator, we’re designing an economy of shared growth. Ultimately, we’re looking for grounded, data-driven solutions that build power and amplify the voices of those most affected by systemic failures.

How can you practice Radical Pragmatism? This framework and its principles guide our work, day in and day out. We’ll be digging into the principles and sharing insights as we work through the framework together. In the meantime learn more at

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