We Have To Survive To Transform the World: A Healing Justice Digital Archive
For almost two years now, we (Erin and Julie, of Thick Press) have been collaborating with Richael (folk healer) on an open-ended, slowly-evolving project about healing justice. Our project began in 2019 with a call for archival materials related to healing justice.
It felt important to include a tentative definition of healing justice in our call for materials. So Richael wrote:
Healing justice is seeing and moving through the world in ways that prioritize a politic of well-being, relationship-building, and community safety.
The story and strategy of care and stewardship while subjected to state repression and systemic oppression;
the song of intergenerational relationships that fortify through trauma, deprivation, and harm inherited across generations;
the creative resourcing for survival when there are too few dollars, too little time, and too much indignity;
And the power which comes when each stranger, weirdo, outcast, rebel, undergrounder, and others who are told they don’t belong is radically centered for their hard-earned medicine, their gifts, and their wisdom.
When we shared the invitation with our networks, we didn’t receive any memorabilia. However, we did get a few links to blog posts, articles, and other online texts, which we incorporated into a resource list. This became the first signature (book-speak for a folded section of pages) in a booklet about healing justice, an addition to Thick Press’ “book, emerging” series.
Each “book, emerging” contains three distinct signatures that can be shuffled in various ways. Thick Press releases “books, emerging” in conjunction with a face-to-face event (although that, of course, has been impossible since March of 2020). We first shared the healing justice resource list at an event in DC in June of 2019.
About 60 people attended the event, where we ate vegan gluten-free cake and sweet potato chips and drank kombucha and talked and folded and stitched copies of the resource list.
At the event, Richael read the introduction to the resource list:
in between these pages are many hard-earned
insights about what it takes to heal together in
and through liberation movements.
for over ten years, this work has been called
“healing justice.” it is a labor of love that
values community safety, preserving healing
technologies, and gettin’ free across levels of
systems and time.
earlier this year, thick press and richael
faithful held a vision to create a healing justice
archive this work is courageous, inspirational,
righteous and rad — and we want the world to
know how much we have invested in each other
and this earth. we wanted to document the care
work that happens daily, quietly, out of view, and
right here, often without notice from those who
rely on it to survive.
these pages of electronic resources are a seed
that contains healing justice stories, advice,
& other valuable words. we can thank the
miraculous communication of 0’s and 1’s that
have collapsed such powerful experience into
strings of text on the internet.
we have collected and organized these strings
of text on the internet so that we all can be
remembered and resourced.
and we want to invite you to remember us and
resource us by offering more digital healing
justice treasures that inspire you, energize you,
and move you.
we are also excited to collect and share your
own healing justice journeys with copies of your
images, photos, poetry, screenshots, journal
entries, book margin notes, and anything else
that tells us about radical survival, healing
outside of the medical industrial complex,
strategies to keep each other safe, and other ways
healing justice does, and can, manifest in our lives.
please share more resources like the ones printed
on the following pages + much more. your
contributions will be shared/printed in the next
version of this book, emerging. what transforms
you, transforms us.
Share generously to:
richael faithful, email@example.com
erin segal, firstname.lastname@example.org
After the event, we dreamed up more signatures: a transcribed conversation with folks involved in healing justice, new work by tenderhearted poets, artwork for the cover, and more.
And so our “book, emerging” remains an active work-in-progress. As it emerges, we want to share an updated version of the resource list we’ve been compiling. We hope it will be particularly helpful during this historical moment, as mutual aid efforts flourish and resistance to racism, ableism, and heteropatriarchal capitalism gain momentum.
Here is Richael’s updated introduction to the resource list:
What is healing justice at the edge of the world?
When the stakes for survival are the highest. When interdependence is no longer a theory, but a necessity against contagion. When the dissolution of realities we have known is in front of us. . .
Healing justice may be:
Pulling out that dusty sewing kit for our families, neighbors, and workers — and slowly practicing our distant skills;
Folding our bandanas, durags and other fashion accessories, in half across our faces, to make coverings our government won’t provide;
Taking to the streets to demand our safety because our lives aren’t spared, putting our bodies even more in harm’s way on the belief that they matter;
Demanding that our loved ones be released from cages because they already should be free and no one deserves death sentences;
Sharing simple, hearty recipes, and passing along our canned goods, and dried beans, and our pantry pasta, for hard times like these;
Taking deep breaths, minute by minute, when a lifetime is contained in a day;
Reading science fiction by Black womxn, written decades ago, for its instructions about living through apocalypse;
Turning over a reason to love each day even as every moment is uncertain;
Dragging and dropping until that laugh-out-loud meme or tweet or gram can post, and tell us about the absurdity of all the things;
Learning from our crip and disabled siblings who know some things about the alchemy of adaptation;
Consenting and sharing radically so that we can all make the choices we each need because we know that liberty isn’t about freedom from responsibility;
Reconnecting with nature, as structures that organize our lives are disrupted, so we can regenerate and rebalance alongside other living beings;
Finally signing up for that herb and gardening class, because you are sure the other medicine supply will be rationed for folks other than who you know;
Rediscovering our own art, words and other creations that reflect back the life-giving forces we always have the potential to be;
Enjoying pleasures, whatever those are like we never have before;
Reimagining our intimacy across technologies as the time-traveling, atom bending futurists that we are;
Returning to the analog of letters and packages because sometimes old-style messages are the most reliable;
Moving beyond the shame of others who aren’t holding their own fear and insecurity elegantly;
Realizing the inherent limits of exploitative economic systems grown from servitude and genocide — and reminding those of us who already know this fact;
Recreating our grief and death rituals so we can celebrate and mourn our departed;
Remembering who we are because this moment is existential, thinly veiling the precarity of our lives that is always there.
What is healing justice at the end of the world?
It is birthing a new one.
And here is the resource list, arranged in order of publication date. Please reach out with responses and additions!
An organization (now closed) that contributed to healing justice work in the midwest.
Created by the Black Lives Matter Healing Justice Working Group.
Facebook page of a collective of southern based healers and organizers.
>2010 (August 5).
An INCITE! Guest blog post by Cara Page.
“Come. You. Yes, you. Tonight we are gathering stories, ours, yours. Each of us with our bundles of sticks, each of us with our strands of cord. The word in your pocket is what we need. The song in your heart, the callous on your heel…”
Open up. Make room. Let the circle grow.
We unwrap our tongues, bind our stories, choose to be naked, show our markings, lick our fingers, stroke our bellies, laugh at midnight, change the ending, begin, and begin again.”
A reflection paper by Cara Page.
Electronic version of a guide by Jessica Aranda.
An article by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in M, I, C, E, Issue #2, Healing Justice.
A report by Susan Raffo.
ffo, Susan. Healing Justice Is More t
From Adrienne Maree Brown’s blog.
>2017 (December 19).
Healing Justice Podcast #8 We moved like we needed each other: A lineage of healing justice. Cara Page, Susan Raffo (with host Kate Werning)
>2017 (February 7).
A HuffPost article by Prentiss Hemphill.
>2017-present. Irresistible (fka Healing Justice Podcast)
Note: some episodes have been removed in protest.
A report by the Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice written by Susan Raffo.
>2019 (February 21).
National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network webinar with Erika Woodland and Cara Page.
>2019 (May 16).
Commentary by Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice published in the Advocate.
>2020 (March 9).
A document created by Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha.
>2020 (March 11).
Blog post by Prentis Hemphill.
>2020 (March 13).
A blog post by Susan Raffo.
>2020 (March 18).
A La Cura Community Care Series podcast with Diana Quinn Inlak’ech.
>2020 (March 30). Self-care Tips if you become sick with COVID-19 from an activist nurse. http://bit.ly/33iG8yr
>2020 (May 6).
A webinar hosted by The Movement for Black Lives.
A episode from Fortification Podcast.
>2020 (June 19). An Open Letter & A Call for True Healing Justice
Medium post by Whitney Spencer that describes her experience at Healing Justice Podcast (now Irresistible.)
>2020 (June 20).
Resource document created by Harriet’s Apothecary.
>2020 (June 21).
Medium post by Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective.
Created for the Sitting Bull College Community by SBC community members, herbalists, herbalism teachers, and students.
>2020 (August 27).
An episode from Fortification Podcast.
Thanks to everyone who recommended resources, attended last year’s gathering, and who has generally supported this community care effort, known and unknown. Thanks also to Joss Ulevicus for copyediting.