Building Power Through Collective Healing and Transformation: A Conversation on Mindfulness and Healing Justice

On Thursday, October 21, the Mindfulness and Healing Justice (MHJ) team at the Kataly Foundation hosted a discussion with our grantee partners to explore the connections between healing, collective transformation, and power-building.

Our grantee partners, Kazu Haga with East Point Peace Academy, Tracy Stewart with Gathering Roots Retreat + Wellness Cente, and Prentis Hemphill with the Embodiment Institute, shared many incisive perspectives on the need to meaningfully resource mindfulness and healing justice work led by Black and Indigenous people, and all communities of color, and the innate, integral connections between this type of work and organizing for collective liberation and transformation.

In addition, MHJ team members Donna Bransford and Larry Yang offered an overview of the work funded by MHJ at Kataly, and the dynamics of funding and supporting social justice movement building.

We hope you will watch the full video of the webinar and also read some of the powerful insights that the speakers shared below.

Key learnings shared during the webinar:

On the role funders can play to support organizations doing mindfulness and healing justice work:

“How can we as funders help to create that space for people to do freedom dreaming? One way we can do that is by providing them with general operating, large, multi-year grants so they have the space to do the work and engage in the work and engage in the visioning, as opposed to spending time doing paperwork for us” — Donna Bransford, Director of Culture and Learning, and Senior Program Officer for Mindfulness and Healing Justice at Kataly Foundation

On the distinctions between equity and racial justice:

“Equity does not inherently change a system that causes harm. Success within a system is not necessarily changing it. It is racial justice that creates social change by shifting what money represents in our culture, and that is the power and the empowerment for which we use, for the transformation that arcs towards justice.” — Larry Yang, Senior Advisor, Mindfulness & Healing Justice Program

On shame and collective healing:

“My body always knew that I carried the shame and it takes a great deal of spiritual energy to constantly suppress a truth that our bodies know to be true.

Collectively this nation, the United States, has deep collective shame around its history and it’s constantly sapping our creativity and our ability to heal ourselves by suppressing it. Collective action at its best is creating spaces that are brave enough and safe enough for the nation to have a conversation about its most shameful things in the way that I had to learn how to do.” — Kazu Haga, East Point Peace Academy

On the deep connection between healing and power:

“When we are not engaged in the work of healing or this culture work that I’m talking about, those are all the places where we lose power, where we leak power. We’re talking about power building and collective power — it gets lost in the breakdowns that we have in relationships. It gets lost in our inability to maintain and hold onto a vision. It gets lost in all of these things that trauma undoes. So there is no disconnection between healing work and power building, it is how it all happens, it’s what it makes it have meaning, it’s how we restore, it’s all of the things that are the glue for our movements and our communities.” — Prentis Hemphill, the Embodiment Institute

On reparations, capital, and what philanthropy must do:

“I don’t have access to the capital that you have access to. What I want from you is reparations. The capital that everybody has is built on the backs of my people, let’s not even pretend that it’s not.

I’m pretty intense about my desire for funds for this work and I don’t appreciate when people of color are put in a position of begging for funds and answering really inane questions on grant applications.

You want to know who I am, give me a phone call and I will talk to you about the suffering that I see everyday as a therapist, of people who are falling apart because they’re going into work in a white bodied supremacist workplace and they’re trying to hold it together.” — Tracy Stewart, Gathering Roots Retreat + Wellness Center

On the need to orient our culture around healing:

“What is our culture about if it is not about healing? Trauma is going to happen in a life — oppression concentrates it, concentrates it into certain bodies, into femme bodies, into disbled bodies, into trans bodies. Oppression concentrates trauma, but trauma’s going to happen. So what is it that our culture should be centered around? Should it be centered around consumerism? How does that match up to the conditions of life?” — Prentis Hemphill, the Embodiment Institute

On the responsibility of white-bodied people:

“What also needs to happen simultaneously is for white people to wake up, and Dr. King kind of started that conversation; the conversation has not ended. These moments of sleep and wake and sleep and wake are killing us. Because there’s this expectation that we will come into white spaces and do emotional labor to teach everybody how to stop killing us. And I know that we can’t make that stop but that needs to stop.

In all of our movements, whether it’s around wellness, whether it’s around abolition of the prison industrial complex, whatever the work is, it always comes back, are white-bodied people doing the work with each other to stop the systems that are killing everybody?” — Tracy Stewart, Gathering Roots Retreat + Wellness Center

On the need for philanthropy to value trust and relationships more than money

“There’s no workplan for healing, and there’s no metric for healing, and there’s no workplan, or strategic plan for liberation. The more that foundations and philanthropy can begin to use faith and trust and relationship as a metric and stop seeing themselves as a financial institution whose relationships with their grantees are based on the money that exchanges hands, but to know that there’s a relationship that’s actually way deeper than money.

If we’re working for social change what does it mean for foundations to base their relationships on money? And on dirty money at that?” — Kazu Haga, East Point Peace Academy

We hope you will also follow the #LetsTalkPower conversation on Twitter, where we will share vision statements from our grantee partners about how philanthropy can do things differently and align itself with racial justice values and practices.

See the Mindfulness and Healing Justice team’s full list of grantees here.

Save the date for our next Kataly webinar:

Wednesday, Nov 10 at 10 am PT/1 pm ET: Transforming Investment to Build Community Wealth: A Conversation with the Restorative Economies Fund. Register here.

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The Kataly Foundation

The Kataly Foundation moves resources to support the economic, political, and cultural power of Black and Indigenous people, and all communities of color.