Climbing the Mountain of Racial Healing
By Aliah MaJon, Chief Inclusion Officer for The Shift Network
I was inspired to write this piece by what I consider a clear message from my internal guidance system, what I call the Inner Teacher. The exact words that came to me were, “Racial healing is like climbing a mountain.” In researching the topic, I found a set of instructions on wikiHow that I wish to use as a metaphor.
Just to share, the simple title on that page is “How to Climb a Mountain.” This list outlines the following 13 steps that a person must carefully follow if they want to climb a mountain safely and successfully:
1) Do your research
2) Assess your mental strength
3) Get fit
4) Acquire the gear
5) Learn about mountaineering ethics
6) Get training
7) Plan your first climb
8) Keep improving your skills and trying harder mountain climbs
9) Find a good guide
10) Prepare for the trip
11) Understand what's involved on arrival at the mountain
12) Begin climbing
13) Descend with plenty of time to get back safely
This preparedness list makes the translation easy to understand, and the steps provide the perfect roadmap for us all to travel upon to the desired goal of effective and sustainable transformation. Here is what the application of these 13 steps looks like when we apply them to the goal of Racial Healing:
1) Do your research. Decide what is yours to do — where you can personally make an impact.
2) Assess your mental strength. Groom your consciousness by setting the clear intention to serve as a healer for truth-telling, bridge-building, and staying present to create lasting repair.
3) Get fit. Practice, practice, practice everything that prepares you to bring about real change.
4) Acquire the gear. Make it a point to study “restorative” tools — anything that builds authentic connection and establishes genuine relationships between people.
5) Learn about mountaineering ethics. Ethics and ethical behavior are the key to everything in the pursuit of Racial Healing. It is absolutely vital to the success of the work to have integrity, model empathy, and be brave and transparent at all times.
6) Get training. Take courses and learn everything you can about unlearning racism, truth and reconciliation, and the long history of domination, conquering, and colonization.
7) Plan your first climb. Try your ability to facilitate on for size with your close friends and the people who show you that they are also cultivating their skills in this demanding area.
8) Keep improving your skills and trying harder mountain climbs. Keep going. Once you start, allow the momentum to grow into more challenging and complex experiences toward healing the Racial Divide — and experiment with innovative and pioneering new ways of doing things to engage with and reach people. Also, create partnerships and always collaborate.
9) Find a good guide. Locate those who are either professionals in this arena or those who have proven their effectiveness in doing the work of Racial Healing and reconciliation.
10) Prepare for the trip. Know that every time an opportunity presents itself, whether it’s spontaneous or organized with a clear goal and desired outcome, it is a journey.
11) Understand what's involved on arrival at the mountain. Work with others to understand where you collectively wish to go regarding Racial Healing, and commit to each other to keep checking in to assess if you are, in fact, achieving what you set out to do — and if you aren’t, change your approach.
12) Begin climbing. Let your confidence, as well as the momentum of your joint work and the specific initiatives and efforts, keep growing. The job is enormous, so we’ll be climbing the metaphorical mountain of Racial Healing for awhile.
13) Descend with plenty of time to get back safely. Remember to take good care of yourself and each other. Make a definite commitment to learn about and follow through on enlightened self-care, including taking time to breathe, rest, regroup, mend, enjoy some downtime, and make room for spaciousness to be a part of the process.
Now, we can all be ready to begin the “climb” — and, most especially, enjoy the beauty of the “elevation” when we arrive. Look out, Racial Healing, we are on our way to promising new heights!