“We need to pursue our own healing while we’re trying to heal the world.”
Activist and soul healer. Micky is a healing justice practitioner, a writer, speaker and justice doula at the Faith Matters Network. The Network is an initiative led by people of colour, with the goal of guiding faith leaders towards building more equitable communities by centering those most historically marginalized. Micky leads the faith and healing programs, including the “Hush Harbors Initiative” which brings women of colour together through storytelling and building empathy.
How did you come to see faith and healing as an integral part to social justice?
People are working themselves to death, and they are not allowed to be full emotional and physical beings while doing the work of social justice. At the end of the day, that doesn’t actually get us justice. What it does is it recreates those systems that tell us our only value is in what we can produce. I believe there must be a better way of approaching the work. I think we can build a beloved community [at the same time] we are trying to get there. We can only be fuelled by anger or disgust at the world for so long. There has to be a deeper place—a place of our own healing and repair, and love for ourselves and for others, in order to really have the fuel to go out and offer that same healing to the world.
Can you expand on the importance of sharing stories and space with other women of colour?
When we hear our stories and as we hear other people’s stories, we are able to get a deep clarity about what is happening in our lives. I think one of the biggest lies we believe is that we’re alone. Sharing stories is a place where personal and social transformation meet.
What is Narrative4 and how does it contribute to your work?
Narrative4 essentially helps people swap stories. So I would tell you my story, you would tell me yours, and then you would retell my story to the group in first person. And it’s terrifying because when you retell it, you might mess it up, and I might not like how it sounds coming out of your mouth. But what I’ve noticed is how much empathy I have for myself when my words come out of somebody else’s mouth. I have a difficult time having empathy for myself, and often the person we’re hardest on is ourselves. So when we’re given the opportunity to show compassion for someone else or for ourselves as our story is retold to us, it can crack us open in a new way. All of that can be the catalyst for healing and help us move forward in our personal lives, which allow us to work from a stronger place in social transformation.
Can you expand on the idea of “movement chaplaincy”?
We’ve been taught to think of movements and protests as “Who’s the target? What’s the action? We’re done.” In the same way that we have medics at protests to attend to the physical needs of people, a movement chaplain would be the person who’s clued into the emotional, spiritual, and mental needs, both in the moment of protest, and afterwards. They would help us decompress, celebrate, lament. We shouldn’t be going on to the next action until we’ve had time to process and celebrate our wins, and mourn our losses, and talk about how scared we were during one part and how great this other part felt. We need to change the way we are taught to organize.
In what ways has the presidential election of Donald Trump impacted your work?
I believe we are now living in an era of suspicion where it can often take a lot longer to establish a mutual trust. Marginalised folks are exhausted from having to fight all day, every day, and since racists, sexists, and xenophobes have become more emboldened by Trump, they are more reluctant than ever. And for those who are allies, they are tired of seeing this hurt. People are so tired now that when they come together to do movement work, they only want to work with people who can create a super “safe space”. But I think we need a new paradigm because we haveto work with others, and it’s not going to be safe. We need everybody on deck who is interested in the path of justice. So that’s why I’ve been so focused on this idea of co-creating spaces together: brave spaces. While “safe space” tries to make an outside force field where we all police each other, brave space allows us to be brave with one another and with ourselves, and then we’re willing to receive the critiques of others. It’s not so much about establishing some perfect world, but about creating it by working on it together—personal and social transformation at the same time. And all of that is not safe. But it’s rich, and it’s good. So I think it’s worth it, even though it’s hard.