“Some things we believe in: the healing power of pleasure, creating majority people of color and Native spaces for healing, centering the genius and leadership of disabled and chronically ill communities…” – Bad Ass Visionary Healers, radical healer babes for liberation.
I was introduced to the practice of Healing Justice by Farzana, the youth coordinator of Shake! Youth Arts and Activism project, of which I was a core team member and product developer since 2010 . She brought it principles back to us after her visit to The Colour of Violence Conference born from “INCITE! Women of Color & Trans People of Color Against Violence”.
Summer 2016, the Shake! Project went The Allied Media Conference in Detroit as part of our continuity program and our facilitators sabbatical. We had a packed program for upskilling in transformational learning, inter-generationality, disability justice, healing justice and reparations.
What I learned about healing justice
As much as it is a radical movement for healing communities, its specificity lies in its reclamation and declaration of the commitment to our full human selves, to reconnecting with the body, using past trauma as learning opportunities of how to live in an increasingly aggressive world.
Healing injustice speaks to a re-membering of the psyche, spiritual, and somatic self. It asks that we do not hold back on embracing our compassion for ourselves and others. The power of healing justice is that it asks for you to begin with the self, to hold a mirror up to your most ugly and shadiest. It asks us to shine a torch into the deepest crevices of our doubt, fears and insecurities- on the toxic attitudinal detritus of violent societal structures we internalise and there space to heal. And this is where compassion must kick in, because it’s not just about healing our bodies or our traumatised minds. We are re-membering the broken and fractured unseen, the intangible that is palpable . We are gluing fragile parts of ourselves together again with bruised but recoverable trust. And we must practice this every day until the trust muscle is strong and flexible. The first place we can begin is with our bodies – self-care will mend us: getting enough sleep; eating nourishing food: removing yourself from toxic relationships; investing in work that feeds our natural rhythms.
Healing justice principle acts as a basket and shield – we collect our memories and we shield ourselves against more assaults upon our sense of who we are and who we will be. Our eventual well-being will emanate into our communities if we do not get stuck in the individualism of self repair. We must be mindful of this possibility. And here is where emotional justice is a salve because of its attention to the specificity of our nuanced emotions. I shall go into this further in a later post as returning to our for emotional selves requires no stone unturned, uncomfortable as it might be. No rebirth is painless and shedding a skin looks scabby, unsightly. When you are part of the healing justice movement you accept The Uncomfortable as part of the healing process. As a community or group, we massage each other and slough the dregs of bad habits such as negative self talk from each others backs. We have assistance in the shape of these guidelines.
Healing Justice Principles and Guidelines
- We begin by listening.
- We are people of color, indigenous people, disabled people, and survivors of trauma, many genders, ages and classes of people, and we are committed to leading the work of building healing justice at the AMC. ( Allied media conference.)
- We do this work to lift up and politicize the role of health and healing in our movements as a critical part of the new world we are building.
- We honor individual and community agency, intuition, and innate wisdom, and therefore honor people’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies.
- We understand that health and wellness should be determined by the individual or community receiving care, and for many of us this includes the reality of disability, illness, and harm reduction. We accept and encourage individuals and communities defining health, healing, and wellness for themselves, and not based on normative models of healing.
- We center the genius and leadership of disabled and chronically ill communities, for what we know about surviving and resisting the medical industrial complex and living with fierce beauty in our sick and disabled bodies. We say no to the medical industrial complex’s model of “cure or be useless,” instead working from a place of belief in the wholeness of disability, interdependence and disabled people as inherently good as we are.
- We live in countries that deny health care access to people based on economic and identity status, and we must build alternative structures for giving and receiving care that are grounded in community and ancestral traditions and in the values of consent and equality. The Healing Justice Practice Space is a part of that work.
- We believe that medicine is media, and we work with the understanding that how we heal ourselves is directly related to how we see and interpret ourselves and the possibility for transformation.
- We are aware that the body does not live forever, and that we honor death as a part of the cycle of life
Principal source: Healing Justice Principles: Some of What We Believe