I believe in my work. I l believe in my team and my community. I believe that we will win.
In just three months, the whole Enlace national team has brought me into their work and their vision of liberation. This vision centers Black folks, transgender, women, femmes, gender nonconforming communities, indigenous movements, immigrant movements and working in tandem to truly be in intersectional solidarity. Enlace is building a legacy that highlights a personal transformation that one must undergo to understand how to move people based on community connections and sustainability . I had no idea what the level of dedication of Enlace was to embody wellness, embody healing and embodying a commitment to collective liberation. We recently went to a Generative Somatics training exclusively for our team. I know a lot of y’all are probably wondering what I mean when I speak of somatics. Generative Somatics describes their work as:
“……. a path, a methodology, a change theory, by which we can embody transformation, individually and collectively. Embodied transformation is foundational change that shows in our actions, ways of being, relating, and perceiving. It is transformation that sustains over time. Somatics pragmatically supports our values and actions becoming aligned. It helps us to develop depth and the capacity to feel ourselves, each other and life around us. Somatics builds in us the ability to act from strategy and empathy, and teaches us to be able to assess conditions and “what is” clearly. Somatics is a practice-able theory of change that can move us toward individual, community and collective liberation. Somatics works through the body, engaging us in our thinking, emotions, commitments, vision and action.”
We were guided by a gifted GS facilitator through moments of tears and moments in quiet meditation that elicited moments of deep insight. Being a part of Enlace has opened up a path to heal myself through a commitment to transformation. That week I was able to stand in my full dignity for the first time in my adult life. Growing up Black in a white supremacist world, every time you breathe there are mechanisms that are wholly dedicated to your subjugation. Through our somatics I was gifted an opportunity to begin to glimpse at what it truly means to be liberated. I could feel my ancestors at my back helping to guide me with the strength to lean into the opportunity of the future and the humility to be transformed by the work.
Each one, teach one is an African-American proverb. Back in the day, they would deny slaves access to an education, so it was the duty of any slave to share with others the ability to read and write. Liberation looks like sharing the resources afforded to us by virtue of privilege with others in community. It’s my duty to share what I have learned so that it may serve others. The support of the Enlace team, working in tandem with brilliant local facilitators and being inspired by each individual participant in WE Rise helped me to become bolder, more focused and more refined in my vision. WE Rise is national program of Enlace dedicated to bringing together women, trans and gender nonconforming people of color to build leadership capacity and solidarity across movements. WE Rise also focuses on personal healing and resilience.
There isn’t one of us who has escaped unscathed from white supremacy. In all its forms, misogynoir, heterosexism, imperialism, colonialism leaves us all sick. So how do we build a movement that leaves no one behind? I don’t think there is one clear answer to that question, but one way to start is to uplift the most vulnerable folks in our society with the least amount of institutional power:communities of color, women, transgender and gender nonconforming folks. Often these communities are the first to be profiled by police, used as bargaining chips globally, or worst of all- senselessly murdered in cold blood for existing.
So, what does healing informed leadership training look like? It looks like acknowledging that women, transgender and gender noncomforming folks of color have been leading the fight for justice since the dawn of time. It’s allowing folks to bring their whole selves into a space to learn and build together. It’s providing time for folks to converse socially and within a training setting. It’s taking academia out of our training and making language we use accessible to everyone. It’s revising your plan to do more targeted outreach to transgender and gender nonconforming people of color, as participants and compensated facilitators/trainers. Providing access to frameworks that lift up and empower folks working with small budgets against colossal corporate targets with billion dollar budgets. It’s seeing others in your community centered and aligned, standing in their dignity. It’s using guided meditation to ground us and bring our ancestors into our work. It’s knowing that everyone of us has a role to play to get us free.
I believe empowerment is contagious. Those who are aligned with body, mind, spirit and a declaration of what is important to them have the power to galvanize others into action. My personal somatic declaration is, “ I am a commitment to radical self love where I value my contributions to my family, my relationships, my community and collective liberation.” Part of the trauma I carry is based on how I was socialized to devalue myself based on my sex, my gender identity, my race, my economic status and many other intrinsic parts of my identity. My dedication to loving myself is deepening my commitment to radical community love. I care deeply about my people. They deserve more than freedom. They deserve to be liberated. Through doing this work with others to develop a healing-informed leadership capacity, we are creating sustainability within our movements. Knowing that Enlace has helped to initiate my own personal journey to mitigate institutional oppression is a blessing all on its own. To be entrusted to equip local transgender, women, gender nonconforming leaders of color with new tools to dismantle the master’s system is how WE Rise.