by Ashnie Butler & Cheryl Harrison
Looks like we will not get to meet in person this summer, this would have been our 4th year being together for a couple of days learning, growing and having some fun, in Port Townsend WA. But, it’s not looking very hopeful right now that by summer we will have returned to “normal.”
Speaking of “normal” how many of us want to return to that “normal?” You know the normal that marginalizes and seeks to destroy us at every turn; well not us! This summer our plan was to deepen our work in understanding how as, BIPOC, we can be present for each other, how to support each other and more importantly, dismantle how we internalize harmful thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and stay trapped and perpetuate harm against each other.
In this current pandemic, we have the added traumas of yet another rising tide of anti-Asian bias, the ongoing fear of blackness with “masked” black men being stopped and arrested for protecting their health by wearing the now required masks, continued fear of BIPOC immigrants, many of whom are locked in cages, and ongoing lack of healthcare access for Indigenous people. In these COVID-19 times when the sustainability of these systems of inequity and systemic harms are being exposed for what they are: detrimental to us as BIPOC. We would benefit from taking a collective breath and work on shifting this paradigm to co-create a world that works for all. This present moment offers an invitation for us to “zoom” together and grow our understanding of how to better support each other.
We are ready for a new world that centers the needs of those living at the margins; voices of those of us most affected by structural and systemic and historical racism. In Arundhati Roy’s article, “The Pandemic is a Portal,” she asks us to look at what will we shed and what we will carry forward into this new world we are dreaming of. Let’s help each other shed light on what needs to be transformed and what we need to deepen within ourselves.
We would love to meet you in small groups via Zoom, see each other’s beautiful faces and dream into a new world. Using some experiential tools based on Theater of the Oppressed and adjusted to accommodate Zoom, we can both hear ourselves as well as each other speak into what this moment asks of us in order to heal ourselves and be available for each other. Forward together!
Ashnie Butler is a long-time Mandala Center associate artist, living in Portland, OR, USA . She is also the founder of Inner Work, Outer Play, LLC – a Racial Equity-based facilitation and consulting organization. www.innerworkouterplay.com
Cheryl Harrisonis a long-time Mandala Center associate artist, living in Seattle, WA, USA. She committed to facilitating self-awareness and empowerment for individuals and communities as a means to create a world which values equity, understanding and compassion for all peoples around the world.