Can Healing Be Our North Star? Reimagining Health, Well-Being, and Collective Liberation
From the history of the Underground Railroad and the Black Power movement to today’s ongoing resistance struggles against anti-Black racism and police brutality, activists and healers in every movement for Black and brown liberation have included strategies around care and protection.
In the early 2000s in southeastern United States, the Kindred Healing Justice Collective—a network of Black, Indigenous, LGBTQI, and women of color organizers, political healers, and health practitioners—were witnessing a national rise in anti-Black racism, anti-immigration policies, Islamophobia, criminalization of poverty, and homophobic violence. At the same time, they were experiencing an increase in suicides and immense burnout among organizers in their communities. In response, the Collective began using the term “healing justice” as a framework to elevate the role of healing for our collective survival, well-being, protection, liberation, and to identify how to holistically respond to and intervene in generational trauma, violence, and oppression.
This conversation on the role of healing in political liberation examined ways in which racism and inequality are embedded in, and abetted by, Western-based health models and frameworks. Soros Equality Fellow Cara Page, a founding member of the Kindred Healing Justice Collective, participated in a conversation with historian, curator, and writer Jack Tchen and artist Anicka Yi to explore how disease has been used as a justification for colonialism, oppression, exploitation, and policing of Black, brown, Indigenous, Asian, and other communities under attack.
Exploring this theme from both historical and contemporary perspectives—looking at the medical-industrial complex, eugenics, colonial history, and the COVID-19 pandemic from a cross-racial standpoint—the speakers then examined how a healing justice framework could help radically reimagine physical, emotional, societal, and environmental well-being across a variety of movements.
This event provided live American Sign Language interpretation.
Cara Page is a Black feminist queer cultural/memory worker, curator, and organizer. Co-founder of the Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective and leader of Changing Frequencies, Page is one of the architects of the healing justice political strategy.
Alvin Starks is director of the equality team of Open Society-U.S..
Jack Tchen is a historian, curator, and writer. He is the inaugural Clement A. Price chair of Public History and Humanities at Rutgers University–Newark and is director of the Clement Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience.
Anicka Yi is an artist who maintains a practice focused on co-subjectivity. Her work often fuses multi-sensory experience with synthetic and evolutionary biology to form lush bio-fictional landscapes.
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