Post-Trayvon: In Oakland, Healing and the New Radicalism Take Root
A little over a week ago I sat in shock as text messages flooded my phone. Everyone from the NAACP to friends all around the country were sharing the news that George Zimmerman was acquitted on all charges in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. I managed to hold back the flood of tears and an angry "WTF??" outburst just long enough to get myself across town to meet friends for another racially heated event—a Saturday night screening of Fruitvale Station, a film which covers the final few days of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old black father who was shot and killed by a Bay Area Transit Authority police officer at the Fruitvale Station train platform on New Years Day 2009.
These two events—Trayvon's and Oscar's murders—have resurfaced the deep wounds of racism, classism, and discrimination that many in the black community know too well. In response, we in this country have historically—and rightly so—boycotted, protested, and organized resistance campaigns as our main calls to action to protect our children's future from further ignorance.
One thing is clear: What we have been doing is not entirely working. Young black and brown mothers continue to see too many of their sons during visitation hours in prisons or putting them in the ground at funerals. Equally tragic, is the "otherizing"—the fear that is present in the laws and the hearts and minds of communities around the country. To transform this, we all need healing and so does the soul of this country. At the same time many "activists" have thought those calling for "spiritual" solutions shallow and not radical enough to respond to injustice.
How can we heal this divide?
At SOS Juice, a solar-powered, revenue-generating nonprofit I help run, we've been putting on events to start answering this question. We sell organic juice, smoothies, tonics, and elixirs at farmers markets, bio-fueled food/juice trucks, and via deliveries and pick-up locations. But on Thursday, July 25, 2013, we're hosting one of our monthly live juice, urban healing, and nutrition education community events at Oakland's United Roots Youth Center. "Trayvon, Trauma, and Reconciliation," which is the second session in our Trauma and Ancestral Healing Series. It's our attempt to provide holistic solutions and tools for our community.
At these events, we're bringing together the community and providing a forum to help people figure out what does progressive activism look like in 2013 in the United States, while also helping people remove physical and emotional trauma as well as negative subconscious thought patterns. Our holistic approach is born out of everything from the MOVE organization and the Black Panther Party to indigenous wisdom and healing practices.
Bridging these movements allows for a deeper healing and a new radicalism. In fact, the Dalai Lama has even stated, "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." For our communities, going to sleep every night with the sounds of gun shots, losing close family members to drugs or violence, and the constant threat and message that your black life has no value via police brutality, etc., it is truly radical to love ourselves enough to heal the post traumatic stress that has affected our bodies and souls since—and actually before—the incarnation of this nation.
In doing so, the past can authentically be memorialized—and thus kept in the past—versus repeating itself in the hardships of our futures. In other words, from a healed place, we can empower ourselves and our communities beyond the cycles of fear, violence, and oppression that we have endured and reacted to in order to survive in this country.
Indeed, the blood of the slave and the slave owner still saturates the soil of the United States and continues to produce "strange fruit." Trayvon Martin's gift to us is the reclarification of the need for a U.S Truth and Reconciliation Commission similar to that which was proposed by Tupac's father and co-founder and co-director of the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture, Dr. Mutulu Shakur:
The task here in the United States as we prepare to pursue a process that distinguishes our situation juxtaposed to South Africa’s, is that our present younger generation is still suffering paramount abuse and transgenerational trauma based on race and class while lacking engagement and dare we say suffers political amnesia while being emotionally and spiritually disconnected. We demand a political process that heals the pain or at least acknowledges the psychological and emotional damage done to past generations that fought a U.S. style of apartheid system which now demands some aspect of resolution and expressing of the specific details of how the abuse was carried out so as to be warned of such tactics for the safety of their future.
We're working to create an opportunity for the community to discuss root solutions to healing the trauma that lies in the soul of the United States of America and where we as community members can become responsible stewards of our own (r)evolution. There will be song, dance, discussion, and of course, juice. The event will open with ritual and movement by a Yoruba Priestess and choreographer, followed by a discussion and tool sharing about "how to be a healer in your everyday life." This will be followed by a demonstration of tonics and elixirs that assist in healing deep emotional trauma and a discussion linking food and behaviors, ending with an opportunity to organize healers from the community who are wiling to be on call and present at rallies, protest, and other settings where their assistance is needed.
SOS juice proposes a kind of restorative justice that only healing can bring. Events like these can—and are—happening in cities and hoods around the country. May these efforts begin our journey back to peace and prosperity.
Click here to add attending "Trayvon, Trauma, and Reconciliation" to your GOOD "to-do" list.
Start taking ownership of your health with our DIY Health Check-up.
Meet the Self-Proclaimed President of Colombia's Hottest Music Trend Champeta started as an outsider Afro-Colombian folk movement. Now it's taking over the country.
Cryptocurrency Regains its Reputation in Paradise Can a renowned tourist hub in Bali become a bitcoin wonderland?
Can a Miracle Fruit Overcome its Unsavory Reputation? Conservationists, farmers, and nutritionists are singing the praises of the breadfruit. If only it didn't taste so bad.
New App Aims to Tackle Hunger, Poverty, and Environmental Issues at Once PareUp wants to connect food purveyors to thrifty consumers looking to score deals on unused, but still edible, items.
My Postpartum Blues Don’t Mean I’ve Failed at Motherhood Want to help mothers dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety? Try listening, not judging.
Meet the Filmmaker Who Infiltrated the Underbelly of Commercial Oil Development Rachel Boynton's film follows the quest to drill for oil off the coast of West Africa, and Ghana's attempt to protect its people.
One Stitch Closer: Brittany Created Her Own Solution Brittany Wegner’s personal quest to conquer cancer with technology 22 year-old technology savant Brittany Wenger’s innovation that changed the way we diagnose cancer
Work Just Got a Whole Lot Easier for One Million Female Farmers Green Heron Tools breaks new ground with its female friendly gear.
Don’t Go Back to Iraq An Iraq War veteran and Marine urges U.S. politicians to avoid the slippery slope of military escalation in fighting ISIL.
A Thread of Hope Can a family business save Somalia's economy? Somalia’s most important remittance operator is locked in an epic battle with government regulators.
Five Animals Teaching Humanity How to Live Longer Scientists turn to lizards, whales, and more for tips on helping humans cheat death.
New Technology Could Help Paralyzed People Turn Thought into Action New developments in thought-relaying research help give movement back to the paralytic community.