Intro to the Intro: Publicly addressing zero-tolerance incidents

Samantha Suppiah


Two Intro to the Intro workshops were held on 24th November 2023 and 26/27th November 2023.

Fictitious email received 24th November 2023
Subject: Feedback on Intro to the Intro

Dear POSSIBLE FUTURES Facilitators,

Thanks for the webinar Intro to the Intro.

I thought I would offer some feedback on my experience of the session.

Firstly, I was disappointed to see two white women presenting the content of the session, instead of people of colour. When I raised this, I was told that non-white members of the collective did not want to be present. I insisted, and continue to insist, that non-white people don’t need to be protected. They need to be able to show up and speak freely for themselves.
I would like to know if your 5-month course Intro to Decolonial Sustainability will have any non-white facilitators presenting content.

During the session you presented some Masks to look at common personality types within the sustainability industry. I found this exercise very white-centric, as almost all the masks feature white people’s faces in the visuals you selected.

What I found starkly missing was any BIPOC representation, particularly indigenous perspectives and representation. There was also no reference to indigenous practices or indigenous sustainability. Are these aspects included in your 5-month course on decolonial sustainability?

Additionally, I would like to call your attention to one of your white women facilitators’ comments about not being as white as their non-Brazilian Global North co-workers because she is Latina. I found it disrespectful to compare her experience with the systematic racism people of colour have to face on a daily basis, especially in multinational enterprises.

I didn’t want to raise this discussion during the session as I didn’t think it would be an edifying experience. If I had known, I would have thought twice about joining the session.

Overall, I found the workshop very white-centric. This is quite strange for an event that claims to discuss decolonisation.

Thanks in advance for your response.

Kind regards,

Payingcu Stomers
who engaged in zero-tolerance behaviours
at POSSIBLE FUTURES’ Intro to the Intro workshops

This is an agglomeration of verbal and written responses from two participants, delivered during and after the workshops.

Fictitious email sent 29th November 2023
Subject: RE: Feedback on Intro to the Intro

Hello Payingcu,

We hear you.

You are saying, “I demand that you perform diversity in the way that I say it should be performed, otherwise I will be furious.”

You are saying, “I demand that you parade non-white, Global South, and indigenous people in front of me, otherwise you cannot claim to be taking a decolonial approach.”

We also see that you completely missed the context of the discussion about systemic privilege and oppression, that it is very possible indeed to be simultaneously coloniser and colonised. You instead decided simply to be offended at what had actually happened, which was that one of our facilitators responded to a participant’s observations by providing her own experiences of where that pattern is also true.
We don’t tolerate folk judging others as “not Global South enough”.

You appear to have also missed the fact that the Masks are presented as caricatures of white sustainability professionals because we are referring to the fact that the vast majority of sustainability professions are white, and the fact that the sustainability industry is white supremacist.

This is Samantha Suppiah, a member of the POSSIBLE FUTURES Crew who was not present in the session you attended. I would like to clarify a few aspects. Allow me to speak freely for myself, noting that we had already clarified our boundaries as a Crew.

Firstly though, would you like a full breakdown of my ancestry percentages and socioeconomic background to help you understand whether to be disappointed about me facilitating an exploration about decolonisation? Would you like me to attach a profile picture so you see the shape of my facial features and the colour of my skin? Do you need evidence of me having grown up in a slum taking bucket showers in public? What qualifications are you looking for here so that I might be “non-white” enough or “Global South” enough for you?

DEI is a check-box exercise where even non-white people from urban poor populations across the Global South can rise the ranks in our colonial world order to inflict coloniality across their industries. Are you able and willing to consider these complexities? Can you reach for an understanding of colonisation that is not based upon race or ethnicity or nationality, but rather class?

There are many assumptions and judgments embedded in your statements that appear to lean towards binary, reductionist and context-agnostic judgments — judgments you don’t appear ready to reflect upon. You, who sit in your hyper-privileged Global North contexts, contributing to and benefitting from neocolonisation and imperialism of the Global South, are convinced that it is appropriate to enter a Global South space and engage in this unattractive and disrespectful way.

By the way, us non-white members of the PF Crew consider it very edifying indeed to not have been present to experience the degradation you inflicted on those in the room at our Intro to the Intro session. Our only regret is that you were not removed from the session as soon as you had expressed these problematic sentiments.

Can you accept that your experiences of systemic oppression are certainly not the only way systemic oppression is experienced, not even the only way it shows up in the hyper-privileged Global North spaces you inhabit? Is it possible to consider that different people experience colonisation differently? It appears you have already concluded that there is nothing non-white people can learn from white people about decolonisation. Perhaps I might offer a reminder that hatred for white people does not eliminate coloniality or white supremacy culture. It enhances it.

We offer a short but incisive teaching from a white Brazilian man who happens to be widely acknowledged as the grandfather of Critical Education Theory — Paulo Freire — in the hopes of intensifying your scowl at being taught about oppression by white people:

“The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors. […] The oppressed want at any cost to resemble the oppressors.”

Paulo Freire

These patterns are very common across North and South. Some of the most marginalised people in privileged Global North societies — especially those who have clawed their way into some level of success as defined by their colonisers, particularly in colonial institutions — are happy, willing, and well-compensated to allow white supremacy culture to manipulate their own intergenerational and personal traumas in ways where they become complicit in coloniality’s culture and system of oppression.

One other thing. You seem to confuse decolonisation with indigeneity. Decolonisation is about dismantling coloniality, and about decolonial justice and reparations.
Many clarifications are offered by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang in Decolonization Is Not A Metaphor -

“Reconciliation is concerned with questions of what will decolonization look like? What will happen after abolition? What will be the consequences of decolonization for the settler?
We want to say, first, that decolonization is not obliged to answer those questions — decolonization is not accountable to settlers, or settler futurity. Decolonization is accountable to Indigenous sovereignty and futurity.”

Indigeneity is about practising indigenous cultures.

POSSIBLE FUTURES do not claim to be indigenous. Do you expect only indigenous people to be active within the global decolonial movement? Can you imagine that it is possible for non-indigenous people to be accountable to indigenous sovereignty and futurity? Our course offers original content that we created through our Global South and Global North perspectives and experiences. We have been very clear about this on and via our website, including our Crew profiles. Why did you choose to attend a session with us if you thought any of this might offend you?

The confrontations you have raised demonstrate how uneducated and ignorant folk in the Global North are to have such a significant lack in understanding the complex histories of the rest of the world.

No one should have to report a full profile of their ancestry and socioeconomic background before being deemed “acceptable” to have a discussion on decolonisation with. Judging someone’s perspectives and behaviours based predominantly on the percentages present in their ancestry or ancestral nationalities, or how their physical traits present externally, is known as racism. Perspectives should be judged and approached as perspectives, hopefully ones based on real experience and awareness, not imagined or projected dynamics.

No one should be cornered to prove or explain their experiences of oppression and intergenerational trauma. This should already be obvious from the perspectives they communicate. Folk who don’t understand this are allowing coloniality to make decisions in how they view the world. We don’t play Oppression Olympics around here.

Look, our work is not for everyone. We never claimed it could be.

We are disengaging you from our work.
We hope you continue to seek other perspectives that satisfy your judgments on whom you deem qualified and appropriate to offer you decolonial perspectives and whom you do not, without constantly being hyper-defensive about comments you hyper-interpret as insensitive, ignorant or racist, because you are so well-trained at having your own traumas manipulated by your oppressors.

Should you like to understand better the points I bring up, you are welcome to discuss with, complain to, and learn from Heather Luna directly in one-to-one coaching.


Samantha Suppiah

POSSIBLE FUTURES offers deeper explorations into practical and radical decolonisation. Our flagship course for professionals, Intro to Decolonial Sustainability, is currently open for registrations until 1st December 2023.



Samantha Suppiah

Southeast Asian trickster. Design strategist for decolonial sustainability & regeneration.