Notes on Community, Collaboration, and Collective Work

By next week’s end marks I will have completed my last winter term as a graduate student. As the weeks and months go by, I continue to return to a piece of advice offered to me by an alumnae (and mentor) before she left the Austin area. The phrase, “finish strong”, still resonates as deep as the day she spoke it, and I’ve come to appreciate the possibility of it. I take these words as invitation to show up and do the work I am meant to do. I also see this as an invitation to question my personal convictions and ideas about what is possible in the field of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

This week, I read a handful of articles that have inspired my critical thinking skills:

Doyin Oyeniyi crafted this insightful, and on-point article in Thrillist: How I Navigate the Overwhelming Whiteness of Austin.

As a young person, both my grandmother and my father would tell me stories about growing up farms in Ohio and Kentucky, respectively. They instilled in me a sense of home and respect for rural communities of color. That feeling was incited in me when I read the article, There’s a big part of rural America that everyone’s ignoring, recently published by the Washington Post, which sheds light on long-held misconceptions of ‘rural America’.

On March 29th of last year, PBS NewsHour aired a special report with New York’s Cardozo Law School Professor Ekow Yankah. The essay, There was no wave of compassion when addicts were hooked on crack, compares the current approach to opioid addiction to the tough-on-crime response 30 years ago to those using crack cocaine.

Colorlines recently reported the launch of the Right of Return USA Fellowship, a project out of Brooklyn-based The Soze Agency, announcing a New Fellowship Offers Grants for Previously Incarcerated Artists. The submission deadline is April 21st.

Prior to graduate school, I spent ten years in the non-profit field where I had the honor of learning from grassroots organizers and leaders from across the United States. These experiences and relationships have continued to inform my life and work in every way, keeping me humble and committed to the struggle. Mariame Kaba is one such leader and mentor whom I am thankful for. In early March, Kaba returned to Chicago where she lived and worked for many years, to give a talk at DePaul University. The Chicago Reader covered highly anticipated talk in the piece Mariame Kaba, modern abolitionist, on feminism that fights state violence.

Sustainable, community-based solutions are critical—now more than ever. At the end of last year, a few of my fellow students and I came together to form the Common Ground Collective, with the goal of collaborating on projects and initiatives focused on social justice and student health. It is our way of continuing the conversation with our community, while participating in a larger dialogue in the acupuncture field and the healthcare field at large.

Here’s to moving the needle with humility and compassion.

In solidarity,
Christian

 

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