We are under a great deal of psychological stress. We spend a lot of our time in our stress responses, especially those of us enduring ethnic and race based stress and trauma. These ceaseless stressors impact our bodies in countless ways, showing up as anxiety, inflammation, and much more. Even as we aim to relax and restore ourselves to continue on, it is often difficult to find true release. We can take that stress with us even when we go to bed at night, still not finding the solace our bodies, minds, and spirits really need.
The practice of Restorative Yoga can be a gateway to relief that can be difficult to access even in sleep. Restorative Yoga requires little physical exertion, and uses props (like a pillow, bolster, blanket) to support the full release of the body's tension. If you've taken a yoga class, it's possible that you've experienced a restorative posture towards the end of class—with the lights turned down low, and you holding one posture in stillness, maybe lying on your back. The stillness is important. It helps our bodies move into the opposite of the stress response, the relaxation response—where our body is able to engage its processes of long term health, like digestion of our food, strengthening of our immune systems, and processing of the traumas we otherwise have to push down. Restorative Yoga can help us begin to heal, by relearning how it feels to truly be at ease.
Dr. Gail Parker’s Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race Based Traumatic Stress and the companion workbook, Transforming Ethnic and Race-Based Traumatic Stress with Yoga are a wealth of information about how our oppressive structures wreak havoc on our nervous systems, and how we can use the practice of Restorative Yoga to heal and sustain ourselves, body and soul.
I am currently in the process of reading the book and working with its companion workbook, and am deeply grateful for the resource. As a former direct action organizer, recovering workaholic, and a queer Black woman with a long history of inflammation-induced illness, restorative yoga has become an essential practice of mine. I hope it can offer some rest to you too.
Contributed by Asha Carter
Certified Yoga Instructor, MM Team Member & Co-Founder of Cambium Collective
Visit Dr. Gail Parker's website.
Georgia is one of the hotbeds of organized far-right white supremacist activity, especially in the realm of public education, mobilizing parents behind the “anti-CRT” and “don’t say gay” agenda. Organizing Black, Brown, and allied parents in response to such a stark threat is both critical and deeply challenging. We are honored by the stories that groups shared with us of their work to engage parents to bring racial equity to school systems, build deeper parent relationships, address systemic poverty, and fight back against the growing strength of the far-right.
“Understanding Parent Engagement in Atlanta" was commissioned by the United Way of Greater Atlanta in the hopes that a better understanding of parent engagement and organizing will help grassroots groups and philanthropy better support its development. We look forward to continued partnerships to support the building of true parent voice.
Movement Matters is excited to announce the return of our weeklong Community Organizing & Popular Education Institute (OI) this Spring 2022!
This uniquely tailored and comprehensive yearly training will take place from Monday, May 2nd - Friday, May 6th at the Eaton Workshop in downtown Washington, DC and will follow COVID-safe protocols. Given the current difficulties of travel and the safety needs of everyone, our 2022 Organizing Institute will be open only to participants from the DMV (DC, MD, VA).
The necessity to continue to train organizers and popular educators is even more important as our constituents and communities are being pushed into a normalization period while their representation continues to be ignored or erased.
Movement Matters' yearly Organizing Institute provides an instructive and challenging learning and action space that deepens participants' vision, skills, values, and capacity. As importantly it also supports cross-pollination and solid relationship building among organizers—a key element of successful movement building campaigns in DC and the DMV.
We will open our trainings to organizers and popular educators from around the nation this Summer 2022. We deeply appreciate everyone's enthusiasm and trust as we slowly return to in-person sessions.
We take the opening and teaching of our weeklong Organizing Institute very seriously given the safety concerns of organizers and their families/loved-ones, and as we move through another winter filled with uncertainty for them, for our communities, and for the change work we are all trying to achieve.
Media shapes what we think is possible. It shapes our dreams while we sleep. It creates meaning we act on while awake. During this collective moment of extensive grief, anger and injustice, we as cultural workers must continue creating images, sounds, stories in ways that commits us to the future we want to wake up in; stories with memory and vision; stories that hold us, deepen us, and propel us towards action.
We know all too well the rampant disinformation, silencing, and fear mongering that dominant media is unleashing onto our communities during this moment: a hyperfocus on crime and the need for police, an erasure of the real stories of excluded and “essential” workers, and mischaracterizations of campaigns that call to #CancelRent, #DefundThePolice, and #ExtendTheMoratorium.
We recognize this type of media as a tactic of people in power within a larger strategy to remain in power and minimize the urgency for dissent. We recognize the impacts of this superficial and disconnected storytelling: retraumatization, memory loss, hopelessness, escapism. This tactic is not restricted to the US. We see the manufacturing of imperialist interests disguised as a call to revolution in the coverage of Cuba and other Caribbean and Latin American countries. We see a complete lack of coverage of African nations, unless there is sensationalistic violence that is reported without context.
Building on tools and frameworks from across our movement, Our Stories, Our Meaning: Advanced Community Media Studio will be an online space for content creators who are already using their craft as a tool to challenge power to focus on:
MM’s Advanced Community Media Studio is ideal for cultural workers and organizers who are developing a specific media project alongside a community organization or community formation. Four online studio sessions will take place between October 1st and October 29th. The first two sessions will be all-day hands-on trainings, the third session will be 1-on-1's with participants and our studio leads, and the last session will be dedicated to presenting and receiving feedback on specific projects.
Cultural workers, youth media organizations, filmmakers, public media advocates and organizers have all put in so much work for us to reach this golden age of QT-BIPOC film production, where access and representation are central tenets of equity in entertainment.
Even as we celebrate, many of us hear the cautionary voices of our political elders telling us, “we have been here before!” And still many others hear, “there are still so many other ways and so much more we can attain!”
These case studies provide but a fractal of the path that lies beyond access and representation; they point to radical institutional and systemic transformation, not just surface level change. To ensure our stories are as powerful as our vision for liberation, we must also center conversations around ownership, power, class, and the right to creative experimentation.
Beyond Access & Representation showcases case studies that stretch all aspects of the production process to go beyond access and representation in dominant media and create our own pathways and platforms.
Transforming Vision, Power, and Leadership: