Centering Healing and Humanity Resources and Thinking


The desire for this work came from many things. Racism, specifically anti-Black racism, has created real, deep-seated structural harms that are manifested in our institutions, in our interpersonal relationships, and in our bodies.

Living Cities is sharing this report on healing justice and centering humanity to give our network a window into what we feel is fundamental in our racial equity work and our work to close racial income and wealth gaps.

We recommend readers start with Chief of Staff Ellen Ward's and Senior Associate Hafizah Omar's reflections on healing justice as a practice and an overview of the history of this work.

Applying Healing Justice to Our Internal Journey in Racial Equity

Staff members Crystal Li and Hafizah Omar collaborate at our first staff retreat to center healing justice.

We're learning that if we want to do transformational work, we must build interpersonal, restorative relationships that support us in bringing our full selves to work and truly achieving systems-level results.

We acknowledge that, when it comes to racism and inequity, the past is present.

All in This Together: Ending White Supremacy Culture Starts With Us

Living Cities has learned that to do racial equity work with authenticity, we have to embrace a new way of working. It has to start with us, at the level of individual staff and project teams.

I am challenging white institutional culture by making time for rest, reflection, and art.

Finding Myself Beyond White Institutional Culture

We recognize that centuries of oppression have set the context for where we are now, and that oppression manifests in our current systems and spaces. Living Cities’ staff member Julienne Kaleta describes in words and images what it looks like to undo this learned oppression, with a focus on self-restoration and art.

White people created this system, and there is a lot of work we need to do to dismantle it.

We believe that accountability and healing are inextricably linked, and are both fundamental to our racial equity work. As we worked to integrate healing justice in our racial equity work, we also began internal conversations about how we personally address microaggressions in our lives and at work.

Guiding tools include:

time to breathe

Breath & Body Work as Anti-Racism Practice

Breathing and meditation is a tangible way to bring your whole self into a space. Connecting to feelings and humanity is often considered unprofessional in the work environment, so modeling a connection to self during meetings begins to shift that belief and the culture of numbing staff emotions and experiences.

let's reflect

Ending White Supremacy Culture: A Resource for Reckoning with History

The inequitable systems that we live under were designed by people, so it must be through the day-to-day choices and behaviors of people within systems that we change them. For us, this means practicing our anti-racist values, includes reckoning with history and honoring the labor that got us here.

We hope this resource will allow you to adapt our tools and agenda to reckon with your own histories in the journey toward racial equity.

take a racial equity pause

There are many ways to incorporate thoughtful reflection and “racial equity pauses” into your processes in your day-to-day.

Resource: Checking In With Our Humanity

This resource compiles check-in questions, poems and activities that we've used to center humanity in our work.

Zine-making as storytelling and healing

Zines have a long history in building networks, sharing knowledge, collaborating, expression and art. And for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color as well as historically marginalized folks, zines have been a practice of resistance.

Zine-making is one of the activities we have incorporated in our anti-racist practice to resist white supremacist culture. We hope with zine making, we can honor the stories and wisdom that our staff hold.

It is only in the undoing, and repairing, of these systems that we have a chance to change the trajectories for the communities we serve.

Healing-Informed Collective Impact

In San Francisco, the HOPE SF initiative intentionally refers to its work as reparations. Former Deputy Director of HOPE SF, Ronak Davé Okoye, writes about what it took to ground this housing initiative in a trauma-informed healing justice approach.

reflect on how healing informs your decisions

Healing-Informed Collective Impact: The Reflection and Practice

Ronak Davé Okoye walks us through how HopeSF unravelled their processes as backbone organizations and facilitators to shift toward creating respectful, healing-informed partnerships, central to the development of trust, social cohesion, innovation, and results.

there are endless outcomes

Shifting Mindsets: Scarcity vs. Abundance

Shifting from scarcity to abundance mindset is the difference between assuming a fixed outcome and trusting that there are endless outcomes. As part of our practice to disrupt white institutional culture, we are becoming more aware of how this limiting mindset prevents us from imagining outcomes outside of the norm or status quo.

imagine outcomes outside of the status quo

If you're interested in starting your own healing justice practice, you can dive into more resources from Dr. Diana Quinn Inlak'ech. For those already immersed in healing justice, share your thoughts with us on Twitter.

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