“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde
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Center for Whole Communities hosted our annual Whole Thinking in Practice retreat in northern California last year. Though currently based between Western Mass and NYC, Dr. Kofi-Charu Nat Turner – one of last year’s retreat participants – grew up in Southern California and went to school in the Bay Area. So as Kofi reminisced about his days in California, he shared stories about crossing cultural boundaries growing up in LA, and campus organizing around issues of social justice and a more expansive curriculum at Berkeley.
Kofi brought a joyful and buoyant energy to the retreat. He shared his yoga practice with us one morning, the inspiring story of his grandmother (Caffie Greene) a pioneering community organizer and public health educator and activist in LA, and – in the most modest and caring of ways – Kofi shared generously of his wisdom and strength. Here are Kofi’s reflections on his experience of Whole Thinking in Practice last year:
If emotions and intellect were currency, I may soon be going broke. As a person of color from a working class background, I feel like I often pay an emotional or intellectual tax when I am engaged in social change work with those that claim to want change but show up half-heartedly, especially in predominantly white institutions. This tax is a result of the contradictions of trying to enact change within the existing system and leaving the hard work to folks from marginalized backgrounds. The tax increases as I am asked to be involved but never given any real power to create structural change. The most recent example I have is dealing with the unintended consequences of organizational white culture at a previous job.