We believe Another Gulf (of Mexíco) IS Possible: we can achieve a self-determined, just, sustainable, vibrant future for our region. It is towards this vision that we work as a collaborative entity. AND, there is an intentional double meaning in the naming of our formation which feels critical to bring up in this moment of time where the world is literally going up in flames.
We also believe another GULF is possible – another gulf between us, another schism that divides us, another beef that escalates traumas and tensions, another disaster or war that kills, another fear that keeps us from connecting in the deep and meaningful ways that we must in order to survive and thrive in the interconnected, intersectional destiny we share as globalized humanity. While people around the world mourn Notre Dame going up in flames during a multi-million dollar renovation of this revered institution, let’s also pay attention to the white-nationalist hate crime burning down the Highlander Research and Education Center’s main center, and the hate crimes of burning down three black churches in Louisiana by the son of a police officer. These are also sacred and revered institutions in the place we call home in the Deep South. Not to mention, imagine the pain from the continuous desecration of sacred indigenous land for the last 500 years where this country now is. This disrespect goes hand in hand with being out of balance with nature and the accompanying mass extinction of animals, plants, insects, and other living beings we are now seeing. Devastatingly, these tragedies can never be rebuilt by the hands of man like the Notre Dame can. Trauma lies all around us, it is deep within our bones, and we are in the midst of existential crises which we must confront and address it from the micro to the macro if we are to achieve the Just Transition we seek.
For example Ashley Yates shares in the New York Times what so many of us experience on the daily (thank you!) with the depth of traumas many grassroots activists face. I’ve experienced and witnessed nearly continuous heartbreak around how many in the “movement” inflict wounds upon each other through psychological, emotional, and spiritual violence. Spending the time, energy, and RESOURCES to heal, to bridge, to grow, to learn, to transform from conflict instead of running away, hiding, or otherwise not dealing with the issues that are inherent with being HUMAN is literally killing us. I believe transformative/healing justice is an absolutely critical component to get us to liberation. Organizing and working from a place of – and agitating with – anger, fear, frustration, hopelessness and pain – exacerbates and entrenches the capitalist, colonial, white-supremacist, patriarchal systems we are seeking to destroy. So – even though some have given me side-eyes, snide comments, and dismissed my deepest belief, I continue to assert that LOVE IS LIBERATION. And that love starts with caring for the most important person in each of our lives: our self. Which, ultimately, means being the best person we possibly can be.
Brooke Anderson gives us some good advice here on receiving critical feedback. For us to be our best, we must be able to work with others in productive ways, to deal with generative conflict, to learn from our mistakes, and to be able to receive constructive and loving critique. Personally, I strive for the PLAN>ACT>REFLECT model of critical feedback cycles for learning and growth in organizing/producing projects, events, and campaigns. However, so many times when critical feedback is provided, it’s received poorly — and often escalates the situation with automatic defensiveness and perceived divisiveness. Ie: “I think we can be BETTER, this isn’t an attack”, doesn’t get heard as soon as critique is provided. I wonder how helpful a compendium to this on GIVING critical feedback would be, too. First step in all of this, though, is to accept that we ALL f*ck up and welcome the support from those who have the courage to tell us when we do, so we can navigate healing, determine accountability, and repair the harm.
As such, we have woven intentions of deepening praxis around transformative justice in the formation of our work as a collaborative. We believe that in the creating this just transition for the planet, being in right relationship with each other is foundational. The honesty to address the harms, to take the time, resources, and energy to repair them is absolutely essential for us to protect and defend our communities, our cultures, and our ecosystems.
– Jayeesha Dutta – New Orleans, LA – April 15, 2019