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Because we are wiser together…

FullSizeRender (1)Last week, 80 leaders in Chicago opened my heart and inspired me to dream a new dream about how organizing is possible in a city. The majority of these folks use conversation as a tool for invoking the wisdom of the people, and supporting the people in organizing themselves to see the change and action they know is necessary in their communities — creating safer and more just communities, creating opportunities for healing. This group of people included folks using the World Café, Peacemaking Circles, and Art of Hosting practices in school districts, classrooms, with law enforcement and youth, to increase child protective rights and trauma-informed behaviors, to bring about social and emotional learning and restorative justice.

Midway through the day, I offered a woven poem, streaming together quotes that had been said throughout the day into one collective expression. You will hear snippets from these leaders sharing stories of their work, Juanita Brown offering insight into the roots of The World Cafe, and meaningful conversations about what we are all learning and what we hear these times calling for.

Deep gratitude to Lina Cramer and Renee Jackson and all of your mates who have been building the capacity for this inspiring network of leaders over the last 10 years.

The workshop was: We Were Made for These Times: Becoming Wiser Together (invitation here).

Here’s an audio of the woven poem.

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A Paradox in Perception

19e96a9e6337d4d81556e13b4e4455a1“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why people have no food, they call me a communist.” Dom Helder Camara, twentieth-century bishop, one of the prophets of Christian “Liberation theology”

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Rev. Barber Speaks Truth on Systemic Racism and White Supremacy

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What We Can DO

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What can I do?
I hear so many people voicing their concern for these times and asking, “What can I do?”

Are you one of these tender-hearted people who believes in love, peace, and honoring the good in all humans? Are you afraid and possibly even paralyzed by the violence and hate that you are seeing and hearing around you? It’s real what you’re feeling. AND if your beliefs are authentic to who you are — you have to ACT also. Feeling the fear and sadness, talking about your concerns or sharing your beliefs on Facebook or with friends is not enough. We must ACT if we are serious about confronting the hate, violence, oppression and discrimination that is clearly alive and active in our local, regional, national and global communities.

Char Adams offers 4 very important things to DO. I’ve expanded on her words with my own comments.

1. Educate yourself – Google before you ask someone else to guide you. There is sooo much information on the internet – from how-to guides, the top 5 things to do, educational resources, to personal stories that show you a window into the lives of people who are different from you. Most likely you know what you are ignorant about and where you could use some education. Wether it’s what White Supremacy looks like in 2017, the racial disparities that exist in your local community, what someone means when they say they use “they/them” pronouns, or what Muslims actually believe… take time to learn.

2. Get involved locally – I have 2 big requests for locals in Asheville and I’m hoping my friends reading this will offer to help. 1. PLEASE donate money now to the Black August Bail Out Action to bail out Black women, queer and transgender folks who are still in prison only because they can’t afford bail. Info in comments. 2. Direct message me if you are free this Friday from 4:45-7 or 7-9:15 to volunteer at Downtown After Five to sell wrist bands and help raise money for a local organization, My Daddy Taught Me That. Beyond those two immediate requests, there are so many local groups wherever you live that are doing the important on-the-ground work of caring for, protecting, and nourishing people who are impacted by oppression. Wether you make calls to local people in positions of power, show up at civic meetings or the offices of public officials, volunteer on the ground, give money, or partner in another way… get involved.

3. Talk to your friends, families and peers about systemic oppression and privilege and how it effects people daily and address oppressive comments and behaviors when they come up (I amended this one) -

677625a3588698144ea69e24d52de82d425e62e1So many people think that White Supremacy is just the KKK and overt hate crimes. Yet the reality is that White Supremacy is profoundly alive in our schools, health care system, justice system, housing and transportation systems, etc. Talk to people about how the denial of home loans and housing discrimination has perpetuated poverty and allowed certain groups of people to prosper and accumulate wealth from one generation to the next. Discuss how racial profiling in policing and the judicial system and thus the disproportionate numbers of people of color and people in poverty that are incarcerated is effecting the lives of good people and destroying families. Talk about the impact of our segregated education system, the biased curriculums that so many learn from, and the impact this has on children’s lives and society at large. And be direct with your friends, family or peers when they say or do something that is racist or oppressive. Start acknowledging the jokes that are offensive or the off-handed derogatory comments. Don’t be silent. Don’t hide from difficult, uncomfortable conversations.

4. Constantly evaluate yourself – We have all been raised in a society that is steeped in ideology and behaviors of racism, superiority, oppression, privilege, etc. I seriously doubt that in the life time of anyone reading this, you will be healed from the impacts of oppression and privilege. The patterns of systemic oppression, White Supremacy, paternalism and patriarchy are powerful and insidious and we are all effected. It is a process of constant self evaluation to discover where these patterns are alive in me and how I can keep learning about myself, my beliefs, my sometimes hidden from myself biases, the ways I act that are offensive and oppressive and so much more. Don’t stop. Be courageous in your self-reflection. It may be hard to see parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there, but the liberation on the other side of that insight is so life-saving, both for you and for those in the world around you.

I thank you for caring enough to be asking yourself, “What can I do?” And I am profoundly grateful for your concrete efforts to join with others, to unite in action and grow in strength the numbers of us who are courageously committed to the liberation of all people from oppression, hate and violence. Together we can do this. May it be so.


Additional resources:

 

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Bail Out Action

MYTH: Most people in jail have been found guilty of a crime.

FACT: An average of 60% of people held in local jails have not been convicted of the crime they are accused of and are there because they are unable to pay bail.

If you were arrested for a minor offense, do you or someone who loves and supports you have the money on hand to bail you out?
Nearly 80% of black women in jail are there for minor offenses.

Please join me in contributing to the Black August Bail Out Action. This is something you can do to make a difference. In honor of Black August, Asheville is throwing down to FREE Black Mamas/Caregivers & Queer & Trans Folks who are in our jails! To financially contribute to this work, follow this link and make sure that you select Asheville, NC under the “Bail Out” allocation. Click here to learn more. THANK YOU!

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Active Hope

Active Hope is not wishful thinking.
Actve Hope is not waiting to be rescued
by the Lone Ranger or by some savior.
Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life
on whose behalf we can act.
We belong to this world.
The web of life is calling us forth at this time.
We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part.
With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store,
strengths to discover,
and comrades to link arms with.
Active Hope is a readiness to engage.
Active Hope is a readiness to disvover the strengths
in ourselves and in others;
a readiness to discover the reasons for hope
and the occasions for love.
A readiness to discover the size and strength of our hearts,
our quickness of mind, our steadiness of purpose,
our own authority, our love for life,
the liveliness of our curiosity,
the ususpected deep well of patience and diligence,
the keenness of our senses, and our capacity to lead.
None of these can be discovered in an armchair or without risk.

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Looking to Expand Your Network to Not Be So White?

“Because my network is diverse, white people often reach out to me asking me to connect them with people of color, because they want to diversify their organization, program, event, etc. While I am heartened by their desire for inclusivity, I hope to communicate that if they truly are sincere and want more than a superficial connection, they are embarking on a long term process, one that will require discomfort and deep work.” Keep reading this very informative article from Ami Worthen.

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And if you’re ready to take your diversity and social justice awareness to the next level, participate in a program with Desiree Adaway and Diversity is An Asset.

“We all lose when members of our communities are not seen and acknowledged.

We lose creativity, innovation, and contributions because of the personal and societal barriers that don’t allow all of us to fully participate.

Inclusion, equity and fairness matter.

The work starts with us waking up, arming ourselves with education, tools and relationships. It continues in our community building, our speaking out –all of our inward and outward commitments to justice made tangible. It requires us to take action, to become the fuel of societal change.

This work is too important for us to leave it to chance.

We invite you to join us on this journey.” ~Desiree Adaway

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