Living a Vision of Healing- Decolonizing Accountability and Acts of Forgiveness
(Creating Practices for Rebuilding w/ Those in Our Communities that Have Harmed Us)
What does it take to heal, especially when the hurt and trauma come from within your community? People of Color communities have been facing very visible and very real humanizing revelations of our idols- that have been harmful to communal identities and social justice movements. Particularly we have seen the ills of White Supremacy and Patriarchy arise in relation to Cis Men of color who have been influencers of justice and liberation in our communities, speaking and acting in ways that diminish our ability to feel we can hold them to their past actions and word that have served community awareness and uprising (Kanye, Fabulous, Nas, Bill Cosby, Junto… and this is just some of the most recent defaming. The list goes on.) In reality, these men are protected by a society that upholds justification for these actions, imbedded in their own trauma from oppressive structures. A long list of excuses as to why they were lead to living out these offenses are brought to light- though validity is present in these moments of empathy and compassion, it should never discount the harm and damage they cause. The real deal, is if they decided to be on the defense, or denial tip for their actions, these men I listed, like many men of celebrity before them, could go on and continue with their lives- protected and supported by Patriarchy and Capitalism, and still glorified by many.
Should the response, as it has been so prevalently made by our communities, to “dead” our idols? To disown them and discount who they may have stood for to us before the moment in which they have harmed and offended us. Is there no coming back from these harmful words and action? Is there no possible means of reconciliation? I ask these questions, not just in reflection to celebrities of influence, but I ask them in connection to those within our closest circles of relations that influence and inspire us, when they say, act or create in a ways that disrupts relation, offending, harming, disrupting and destroying bonds that have been built, particularly in the walk toward building Love and Liberation.
I’ve been sitting deeply in listening to the questions arising in my heart about how the journey of accountability in our communities asks us to move beyond the very real reactionary feelings of anger, disappointment and mourning from the pain, the damage and the destruction. This moment asks us to move beyond these feelings that often make us cut off, remove people form our lives. I ask us to vision how those who have insulted and injured us can be held to enact daily practices and actions that are in the “Vision of Healing”. I think on how because of the complexities of trauma in this world, that it is a common practice to rather than work on restoration and reconciliation, that we sever and erase. Often we do this to avoid further hurt and deeper creation of injury and often it is because of fear, of further hurt and harm. We cannot believe that after someone inflicts pain and offense on us, that they would be willing or able to heal what has been destroyed. And because of the constructs of this world, often they do not. Partly because of their unknowing of how to, or because the ills of this world have made them really feel they have not wronged us.
The complexities of the work of accountability go beyond just “calling someone out” and disowning and disregarding them – it becomes much more difficult to “invite them in” to a vision of betterment and rebuilding that asks us all to shift and see each other underneath the constructions that make us forget our responsibility to one another. We must see how much we are responsible for the maintaining of suffering and oppressive cycles, when we do not see beyond our pain and trauma. If we cannot as a whole community make room for these difficult healing processes to be created, we abandon hope, we maintain the rupture, that breeds in us distrust and fear and that relieves us of examining what it is that we communally have not worked to heal, so we can as individuals in times of human error and injury, see the ability and need to heal. It is time to create Visions of Healing, that we can live out. It is our responsibility to become clearer about what it will take to restore and reconcile what has been broken in our relations to each other.
I believe that we are being given an opportunity with the visibility of communal harm and hurt from idolized figures of celebrity, to begin processes of creating protocol for accountability and for healing these egregious acts. And we must live out that healing, with sound discernment of what accountability looks like as practice beyond just statements of regret and promises to make things right. Or one action that will create a bandage, that seeks forgiveness, though the hurt and harm need much deeper healing. What does it look like to reconcile? How do we make room for the healing needed not only for the relations who have been harmed, but also for the individuals that have caused harm? How can they take responsibility in a way that their Living becomes continuous acts of healing for self and community? For any given situation where we have felt a loss of faith in someone, where we have felt reprehensible damage has been done- what will it take to heal?
In moments in my own life when I have felt the actions of others have been harmful toward me, I practice for myself a level of demand that the harm is known, and that also with compassion and the want to heal that we look at where it was rooted. The invitation to move toward sustained and deepened accountability through a Vision of Healing, asks us to see one another in ways that may not have been possible before the offense. In these moments we are being asked to look at our most insidious traumas, the parts of ourselves that if confronted would change parts of ourselves that we never knew were limiting us, and holding us hostage to behaviors of oppression toward self and other.
It is important to understand that when we are harmed and hurt by others, we become victim, not just to the individual who has spoken the words, or done the actions that have harmed and hurt, but also by all the societal and human created influences that are rooted in oppression and injustice subconsciously supporting these damaging moments to occur. Capitalism, Patriarchy and White Supremacy are the main agents of Colonization that influence so many of the actions that harm and hurt self and others. To be in a position of understanding how we are all moved by these constructions of oppression, especially at the core of any moment and dynamic of harm and hurt that is lived, is crucial to the possibility of healing. When the harm and hurt occur, we are being confronted with much more than a moment of offense from a single person- we are being confronted with a lifetime, and often ancestrally inherited, traumas that propel and fuel an ability to hurt and harm, even those we cherish and Love most in this world.
I have been formulating protocols for myself as to how to hold community and self-accountable to moments of offense and invite a collaborative understanding of creating Visions of Healing together and root those visions in clear lived actions and practices that will sustain a path toward healing and liberation for all those effected. For now they have remained quite simple, and it is the actual continuity of practice that is where the complexities lie:
1) Speak- on the immediate reaction to the harm and hurt. Honor your feelings that come instantly, but do not these reactions be what leads your process of addressing the harm and hurt.
2) Learn- Be in active and communal examination of where the harm and hurt are rooted for you- personally/relationally/societally. There is no timeline to this, it may take your whole life to understand where it all comes from- or you may never fully understand in this lifetime.
3) See Each Other- Recognize dynamics and create exchange for understanding of all perspectives connected to the hurt and harm. Let yourself become aware and in relation to all that contributes to the ability for the hurt and harm to take place and exist.
4) Vision the Healing- Ask “What does it look like to heal this?”- understanding that there is never a quick fix to any hurt or harm. Be conscious about what it means to be in “continuous healing”- center all means of healing with continued action and practice.
5) Live in your Vision of Healing – Know that healing is a lifelong journey- that moments of hurt and harm stay with you and so it takes constant addressing and confronting when that hurt and harm show up to live beyond these moments in a good way. Root yourself in daily actions and practices that you mean to grow into your behaviors and ways of being, that uplift, empower and Love beyond just the reconciling of the hurt and harm, but that seeks to ground you in the ability to be held and hold others accountable for the liberation of us all.
The specifics of this process will vary from moment to moment, but it is a starting foundation that I have begun to implement in my daily life. Continuously asking myself- and now asking of you all “How do you create your Vision of Healing? Your Vision of Communal and Individual Liberation? And live in it, inviting all others to join you?”