The Kindred southern healing justice collective is a collective of grassroots healers, radical medical practitioners, and organizers that concern themselves with deepening the capacity and wellness of social justice organizers and social justice movements, especially those rooted in the South. It was a project conceived by Southern healers and organizers in 2007 as a direct response to trauma, violence and social conditions in the region.
The collective’s work is guided by a Vision & Strategies Council of eight and a recent southern healer leadership team built at the US Social Forum in Detroit 2010. According to Cara Page, the Kindred coordinator and a member of the Kindred Vision & Strategies Council, the increase of state violence and control on communities in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina showed clear public disregard for the safety and wellness of our communities in the South. People of color communities directly impacted by these atrocities experienced acute trauma, and those of us watching it on national television experienced secondary trauma, simultaneously. As post traumatic stress syndrome has become more of a household name since 9/11 and the aftermath of Katrina, many more organizers realize how much trauma we are holding from large and increased incidences of violence whether from natural or “unnatural” disasters.
Kindred came into being when a group of Southern healers and organizers began to recognize the need to understand and create mechanisms of response to the profound collective impact that trauma (personal, interpersonal, intergenerational, ancestral, systemic, and otherwise) has on our communities in general, and organizers and movement organizing specifically. In addition to recognizing trauma as a hindrance to healing and wholeness, Kindred also cites the vast historical legacy of the involuntary testing and experimentation on Black and Brown bodies in the global south in particular by the medical industrial complex. Highlighting the inadequacies of the public health care system to appropriately address the conditions and needs of communities of color, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, working class people, immigrants, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersexual, transgender, and/or queer community.
The Kindred Collective also aims to address the displacement, co-optation and removal of traditional modes of healing practices from the southern region. They are building with organizers to remember how we have held, and imagine how we want to hold, cumulative generational trauma and violence on our communities by building collective healing strategies inside of organizing and movement-building. The Kindred Collective would like to see rootworkers, doulas, midwives, body-, earth- and energy-based healers called on to build sustainable and resiliency practices with organizers that ensure our collective safety and wellness.
To this end, Kindred has been mapping the locations of actual Southern grassroots healers throughout the South. This is being done in an effort to create multiple, rapid response teams and with local communities co-design alternative mechanisms for our collective safety, survival and wellness outside of the state to act as aid and support in times of need (e.g., during natural disasters, regional traumatic events, etc.). They are also building public awareness through cultural work and organizing tools that explain the impact of spiritual/psychic/physical/emotional and environmental-generational trauma, which have been stimulated by events of traumatic incidences of violence, experimentation and social control on our communities. Most of these experiences are still unreconciled and hold a cumulative impact on the collective well-being of folks in the global south.
In addition, Kindred has been holding Story Circles (in the practice of Civil Rights Organizer and cultural worker John O’Neal) in an effort to “deepen the dialogue” and give more visibility to Southern healers and their work. In a recent collaboration with Puck Lo, a media justice documentary artist, the Kindred Collective has made a soon-to-be released CD recording called “Deepening the Dialogue.” On it healers are answering this question for themselves: “What is the role of healing inside of liberation?”
In partnering with other regional and national progressive, radical medical practitioners, social workers, healing practitioners, and grassroots healers, the Kindred Collective is also building a new healing justice as a political framework and analysis that seeks to understand the particular ways health and healing intersect within our social justice movements. Their role at the 2007 and 2010 US Social Forums, in collaboration with a national team of healing practitioners and Detroit based healers and organizers, brought a lot of this critical work on healing and health justice to the forefront of our movements. In Detroit this collaborative held a premiere Healing Justice Practice Space for three and a half days. Providing multiple modalities of healing practices from a team of over 40 highly skilled practitioners in trauma. They also led a national convergence inside of the USSF People’s Movement Assembly for Healing, Health Justice & Liberation to imagine strategies towards action around collective wellness and transforming the collective impact of trauma and violence.
The Kindred southern healing justice collective, role models transformative social change at its very essence. In honoring the relationship with the land, with traditional modes of healing, and uplifting the role of healer and healing within movements, Kindred honors the rich legacy of a resilient and emblematic South.