On the weekend of April 28th, we brought together organizers and movement builders from all over the west coast to participate in the inaugural WE Rise 2018 Cohort training. We welcomed leaders from Casa Latina, OPAL Environmental Justice, Burgerville Workers Union, Mudbone Grown, SEIU 503, the Pan-African Commons at Portland State University and other unaffiliated dynamic organizers to build and grow with us over the year.
This 2018 cohort is launching just on the heels of the successful two-month Fall 2017 WE Rise cohort. Our push is to go even deeper with this cohort by offering a year-long program dedicated to building power across groups to win campaigns, sharing tools and resources for healing, building relationships of mutual wellness, and building movements and campaigns that are inclusive of all oppressed communities.
We are working with local organizers to build our own narrative of self determination for people of color who are womxn, transgender and gender nonconforming folks impacted by gender based violence. In the day to day, this ranges from catcalling to sexual harassment to denial of employment based on perceived gender and also physical violence. This short list is by no means able to truly encompass all the traumatic experiences womxn, trans and gnc folks have experienced for generations. The anguish, pain and agony of our ancestors can still be felt by us to this day just as our communal trauma and pain will be felt by future generations. Our people have persisted through genocides, sterilization, wars, mass incarceration, domestic violence, hunger, slavery and we survived.
To survive means to do so by any means necessary meaning that we will do things that may not actually be part of our values or principles. For example, to survive I have had to change my gender presentation depending on where I am going, even though I fight for transgender equity. As a transgender person, doing this over and over again will change me and how I am able to access pride, dignity and joy in my life. It’s hard to stand upright in a crooked system. So then, we (marginalized communities) begin to make ourselves small or twisted or upside down or any which way that isn’t our natural, full shape.
Together, we rise because each person contributes to creating the container for us to bring our whole-selves into a space. Whole-self spaces are spaces where folks are not forced or coerced to uplift and acknowledge one identity they have over another; folks are able to just exist with all their history, strength, dignity and culture. It is not on accident that we take time, energy and intention to make space for healing. Only when those who are most impacted and marginalized are given space by those around them to be seen, witnessed, felt and heard can collective healing begin.
As oppressed folks of color we are carrying around the trauma of colonization. Our bodies, hearts and minds hold the ongoing struggle of our peoples, our ancestors. This year, Enlace is building a new methodology for how we sustain ourselves and each other through the movement. We believe in accountability, unconditional community love for each other and an overwhelming dedication to justice and liberation. As we are building this path to freedom together, where everyone has a role, we have only one question; which side are you on, friend?
If you are on the freedom side with us, we ask that you become an Enlacista today– a monthly sustainer of Enlace. A monthly gift is a meaningful and valuable way to be part of building towards the world we want to live in, we need each and every one of us doing — and giving — what they can. No donation is too large or small to contribute to liberation.