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June 6, 2019

‘Locating Oneself’: A Reflection from the Healing Justice Donor Briefing

At the end of last year, I found myself in a studio with an intuitive, body spirit healer. Over the next 45 minutes, I felt my body loosen—through the body work; through the breathing; through the energy healing. Once it was over, she shared her intuitions and translated what my body had told her. One, a remembering of my ancestors—blood and not. She told me there is an army of Black women guiding me and protecting me. And second, the importance of beloved community. You are here for a reason she told me—to heal backward and to heal forward. To remember all who have survived before me and all who will thrive after. To reclaim ancestral practices and to create new ones— an attempt to heal my elders and ancestors and help build healing futures. Who are you? Who are your people?

Where and how does your story intersect with oppression and trauma?

Where and how does your story intersect with healing?

A few weeks ago, I attended the Healing Justice: Building Power, Transforming Movements donor briefing, hosted by Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Kicking off with thoughtful grounding

, led by the convening facilitator Adaku Utah of Harriet’s Apothecary, and a beauty tapestry of the complex lineages of healing justice from an intergenerational group of movement leaders, the organizers called funders to ‘locate ourselves,’ our people, and the historical traumas and moments of healing in our lives. It required folks to pause before asking questions or for more ‘data’ and instead, to consider other ways of knowing and being, choosing for once the knowledge of our bodies and hearts. I remember attending the Racial Liberation and Equity training, created by Monica Dennis, Rachael Ibrahim, and Heidi Lopez, last year where I first learned about locating oneself, and thinking its primary focus was organizational development and transformation. By the end of the workshop, I realized all societal shifting and culture change starts with self and healing. Thus, as a practice, locating myself continues to ground me in my own healing journey, my relationships with others, and the work I do. After the healing justice lineages panel, we spent the rest of the day exploring best practices for funders and strategizing around how to incorporate healing justice into the sector. Relationships and true partnership rose to the top. Both movement leaders and funders spoke about the importance of being in right relationship with one another. As Erica Woodland of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network said about his relationships with funders, “There is a deep listening and understanding of the spirit of the work… but also a commitment to [their] own healing and [their] own practices. There is a way that healing justice has been embodied in the relationships I get to have...” In other words, healing justice is not just a body of work but a way of knowing and being in the world and with each other. Following the best practices panel, movement partners and funders joined working groups on topics ranging from trauma-informed philanthropy to institutional accountability across the sector. The briefing provided a practice space to envision healing for the sector and for individuals themselves, with a reminder to check out the report written by Susan Raffo of the People’s Movement Center, with leadership from Cara Page of the Kindred Collective, the Astraea and Wellspring teams, and dozen others.

I really enjoyed attending the briefing and encourage everyone to check out the report and panels, here and here, both accessible on Astraea’s Facebook Page. You’ll see a shout out to MEV in the Recommendations section! What I take away is immense gratitude for folks who have been doing this work, the many others who have documented it and witnessed it, and everyone who shared their gifts, whether their own stories and lineages, or tips and tools for how to resource the work well.

I continue to sit with questions of: How might organizations across the social sector and beyond incorporate or develop their own healing practices? How do I continue to incorporate these learnings into my life and my work in a genuine way that is not co-opting? As I continue on my own healing journey, what are the healing lineages of my people? And how do I access them and how do I hold them with care and integrity?

Art by lizar_tistry