The following piece was originally shared internally with Rockwood’s dedicated staff, trainers, and board. However, reflecting on how far we’ve come in this last year, I realized I wasn’t just speaking to the immediate Rockwood community, but to the entire Rockwood network.
Having witnessed our movements’ wins over 2020, the culmination of which was clear to me as I watched the inauguration and the swearing in of Senators Warnock and Ossoff, I realized that those wins are in no small part because of the tremendous work of all of you in the Rockwood network. Thanks to all of you for calling, seeking support, checking in, and reminding me of the unfailing power of our collective visions, hard work, and practice.
The fight for our liberation is hundreds of years old, and yet, it is still here. The issues we’re facing right now are complex – the pandemic, climate change, racism, violence, and more – but our connection to one another, our commitment to each other and to our communities is what will make it possible for us to not only survive these times but thrive in them.
I thought a lot about you the last days of 2020 and in these first days of the new year. I am immensely grateful and honored to have spent this last year working with you, learning from you and watching you lead.
In more ways than I can count, last year was enormously painful. It isn’t only the external oppressions that crush and impede us, the internal forces can be just as painful and damaging. This is clearer to me after 2020 where, as a country, we watched 400,000 people die and millions of others get sick, lose their jobs, homes, loved ones, and worse. We saw countless murders at the hands of police and other oppressive state-sanctioned horrors that broke our dreams and our hearts. All this while billionaires got richer than ever and large corporations did better as they fired workers by the thousands.
We saw it all in 2020 and it hurt.
Our organizations, our communities, our movements — we are not exempt from these forces of oppression. At times, we embody them. But as we think back on 2020 and ahead to 2021 and beyond, let’s remember that our habits have the power to shape us.
When things are hard, when we don’t quite meet the mark, we can punctuate it by replaying everything that isn’t working and speaking it again and again until it breaks us. At least I know I do this. I believe humans have a “negativity bias,” and without deep and ongoing spiritual practice, this bias can consume us and overshadow the progress we are making. And we made tremendous progress this last year! While I am impatient with and deeply saddened by the oppression, white nationalism and supremacy that continue to permeate every corner of our society, I saw a lot of progress and possibility in 2020 – in no small part – because of you.
I so believe in the boundless, powerful love modeled for me by my grandmothers and evident in the practices of interdependence, mutuality, joy, and co-powering one another. I saw this love in action in 2020 among all of us in the Rockwood network, and, thankfully, far beyond us.
The uprisings and reckoning with the “isms” that our nation was built on should be celebrated. The downright badass, powerful organizing that pushed out that last, awful regime and is shaping local and national politics should be celebrated. The courageous acts of kindness exhibited by frontline workers should be celebrated. Our peoples’ determined ways of surviving the trauma, our healing and supporting each other to thrive amidst it all, must be celebrated. The people who attended Rockwood and other trainings to learn, grow, and liberate themselves must be celebrated. The tremendous effort among us and across our movements to design and execute programs that supported thousands of leaders in need in 2020 must be celebrated.
In this bizarre, challenging, and oddly exhilarating context, you showed up and showed out! Thank you. Thank you for being courageous, loving, radical leaders. You are the ones I’ve dreamed of and longed for over the years. I’m so damned pleased to be in this moment with you.
We did it right this past year! It was not without bumps and bruises, learning and growing pains, but definitely with love and resolve to move forward even stronger, even more aligned with our values and each other. As we continue to build for a future where all bodies, hearts, and minds are liberated, let’s remember to celebrate the progress, rejoice in the wins, stay the course. With love as our guide, let’s lean even more into what we know on the insides of our hearts. There’s magic there!
I see you, I honor you. I honor the gifts you bring to our movements and the world every day I know we wouldn’t be Rockwood without you.
You make each day worth it!
With love and gratitude,