As two women of color co-founders living and working within the equity, justice, and community mental health space for over a decade, our manifesto embodies our experiences, stumblings, and learnings — written by us, for us and the radical collective we seek to build.
Keep your sights on the north star. Everyone has their own version but, focus on inclusion, equity, and justice. Remember, diversity is merely a starting point. Don’t get complacent. This world needs you now more than ever.
Invest in DEI, even when it hurts. Shift the mindset: DEI is not a nice-to-have but a need-to-have. Investments often feel like sacrifices to those now inconvenienced but many of us — people of color — have been sacrificing. Invest in us by any means necessary.
Understand the deep loneliness and pain that comes from living this work. Everyone lives this work — the question is how. Don’t let us shout into the void on our own. Shout with us. Show up. This particular kind of loneliness is best described by poet Nayyirah Waheed:
you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.
Understand also, the deep beauty and love that comes from this work. The really hard moments are wrapped up by the really good moments. There are countless affirming and humanizing things so full of wonder, joy, and small wins that actually feel huge. Yes, we broke the ocean in half to be here — see us, we’re here. Look for these moments and lift them up.
Practice shine theory. I don’t shine if you don’t shine. Give credit generously, especially to those who are often silenced or ignored by the dominant culture.
Break the barrier, then get out of the way. Trust our lived experiences as evidence enough. Don’t be colorblind; see color and center race. Believe in all of our infinite capacity for radical transformation and healing.
Stop beating the odds and start changing them instead. It matters how we position ourselves in this world, especially when it feels safer to build up walls and close our gates. Stay open. As Rinku Sen says, “If you have some privilege, risk it.”
Fly in a V. Yes, like geese. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for those following behind. And when the lead goose tires, it rotates back with the next one moving up — no questions asked. It turns out, we all need moments to fall back — the question is, does the formation support that falling, that healing? Take care of yourself and build a structure that takes care of each other.
Be patient with people but not with systems. This work requires building, rebuilding, and more rebuilding. Systems are designed to produce the results they get. Stop doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. Begin to see the expansiveness of change as starting with us.
So, find your and. Now, let’s begin.
Originally published on the and/now blog.