A Look Back on Radical Release: Honoring Our Legacies, Liberating Ourselves from Anti-Black Racism
Lesley McGee, MA
Last year, our group gathered five BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) from across the United States, over the course of four sessions, to process the ongoing racial trauma in our country. Anaïs Lugo-Guercio, OT/s, and I felt that we successfully facilitated an honest discussion, guided by wellness, where members could honor warranted feelings, which have emerged from hundreds of years of systematic Anti-Black racism. Personally, this group was very meaningful for me and was one of my favorite endeavors from last year.
The session topics and discussion points were:
Session 1: Why Now/Why Then? - After going through introductions, we discussed how this moment in history -- the COVID-era and the year 2020 -- is calling us to reach out to the BIPOC community. We explored parallels to other times throughout our lives where we felt compelled to do so. We reflected on what was coming up for each of us as Black people and what we hoped to both lean into and let go of.
Session 2: Strategies of Survival - We explored the effects of racial trauma on our bodies, navigating the internal experience of otherness, and how we interact with stressful messages from our environments. We spoke about interpreting physical sensations associated with anti-Black spaces and systems -- what it feels like to be in an open, accepting space versus feeling nervous to be in a space. We shared different strategies on how to prepare our bodies to be present and grounded.
Session 3: Multiple Consciousnesses - We reflected on the layers of ourselves that exist within us in many beautiful ways and contexts while, also, focusing on ourselves as individuals. The versions of ourselves that show up in a given moment can rely heavily on the outside world, but we spoke about what happens when that is stripped away and/or when we are fully seen and accepted.
Session 4: On Being Enough - We defined being enough as accepting ourselves as imperfect human beings who are fully capable and worthy of good things. We shared what it means to allow ourselves to be messy AND powerful BIPOC because our flaws do not take away from our legacy and influence. Whether it is our best day or our worst – enough-ness is internalizing the idea that our value does not change. These ideas are heavily complicated and influenced by generational racial trauma and white supremacy’s influence. We touched on those different influences (e.g. family, class, privilege, media/representation, stigma etc.) to ultimately answer these questions for ourselves: Are we enough as we are at this very moment? And if we feel that we aren’t, who is and why?