As I reflect on all that is 2022, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, grief and hope. This was a critical transition year to see how our nation will move after the effects of COVID-19 and social justice protests after the state sanctioned killings of Black people in 2020.
In my home state of Georgia, I witnessed Black women from various socio-economic backgrounds and leadership positions labor tirelessly to ensure Raphael Warnock remained a senator. I felt the real collective pain and grief in the aftermath of mass shootings targeting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. I continue to be concerned about the lack of grief support after the nation experienced over a million deaths due to COVID-19. As I type this, Brittney Griner is on her way home.
To help me get through a myriad of emotions, I relied on a few resources and music.
Manifest Your Destiny by Wayne W. Dyer
Mindful of Race by Ruth King
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler
Finding Refuge: Heart Work for Healing Collective Grief by michelle cassandra johnson
Beautiful Chorus Radio
Dua Lipa Radio
The William Murphy Project Radio
The Internet Radio
Tig Notaro Radio
The Internet Radio
Alex Isley Radio
Tortured Soul Radio
Sweet Honey in the Rock Radio
CommunityBuild Ventures remained committed.
At CommunityBuild Ventures, we were very focused on deepening our culture of care; and facilitating learn and practice experiential opportunities to support racial equity culture transformation. We also wanted to demonstrate that power sharing and building is possible in Black communities.
In 2022, we:
- Created experiential learning opportunities for Jobs for the Future, CareerRise, and PEAK Grantmaking to strengthen key competencies and skills to lead racial equity.
- Took a month off with pay and hosted a self-care and healing retreat through a generous reparative grant from the Satterberg Foundation.
- Hosted monthly healing and self-care check-ins with CBV consultants.
- Took Fridays off.
- Facilitated the development of pro-black and racial equity statements, values and practices with Tides Advocacy and AVLF respectively and created learning spaces to unpack the four levels of racism.
- Facilitated community-led grantmaking initiatives, THRIVE Thomasville and Stadium Neighborhoods Community Trust Fund, that granted over $1.25 million.
- Served as an advisor for United Way of Greater Atlanta for its youth workforce development initiative, CareerReady Atl.
- Served as featured speakers for Equality Federation, National Public Education Support Fund, The Annie E. Casey Foundation-Atlanta Civic Site, and Beloved Community convenings reaching over 150 participants.
- Launched a year round suite of leadership development programming for Black male educators under our initiative, BMEsTalk, through a generous grant from NewSchools Venture Fund.
- Developed the So You Think You Know Racial Equity Survey focused on 10 racial competencies to assess how well individuals and organizations understand, embrace and embody racial equity.
- Coached and facilitated learning opportunities with 8 BIPOC-led grassroots organizations in partnership with The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.
Onward to 2023
We are celebrating our wins in 2022. But, we are also holding observations of harmful practices as we are called to be racial equity partners.
What have we observed as harmful practices that impede understanding, embracing and embodying racial equity?
There continues to be a pervasive, performative movement to make racial equity and justice organizational statements with little care or attention to the values and practices that will help organizations transform their culture to begin to live their words.
The practices, policies and tools that have created and/or supported -isms are being relied on as trusted resources to dismantle them. Audre Lorde so eloquently explained, “We cannot disrupt our oppression using the logic that created it, but more importantly, the very logic justifies our oppression.”
There is an unstated norm of overworking that leaves little room for collective learning in organizations. To move towards racial equity, there has to be a commitment to creating space for strengthening curiosity, holding space, noticing, and practicing accountability.
Black women are lifted up as torch bearers and key laborers in social justice movements. However, there is little allyship championing their rest, self-care and healing.
And, in the midst of the harmful practices, there is hope.
What gives us hope for the future?
There is a growing community of racial equity and justice practitioners that are centering healing justice and somatic practices as central to supporting social justice organizations.
BIPOC-led leaders are talking more about rest and joy, and figuring out how to center practices in their organizations.
Our Brave Space Building™ framework creates a powerful container that provides a psychologically safe space for participants.
The growing number of resources and tools that have been developed or being created to support a future free from white supremacy.
CommunityBuild Ventures will celebrate and share reflections on our 10 years of service all year long in 2023!
We are double digits! We are envisioning a free, just liberated society where Black people are seen as sacred humans. We are moving from rooted to radical! Cheers to possibilities!