How Do We Get Where We Need To Go: Movement Building’s First Webinar + Clinic Assessments

There are currently more black men in prison in the United States than were enslaved in 1850.

One in nine people currently incarcerated are serving life sentences.

One in five incarcerated people are locked up for a drug offense.

Each year in prison takes 2 years off an individual's life expectancy.

Nearly 20% of people currently locked up have not been convicted of any crime.

At least half of all people murdered by the police have some sort of disability or are in the midst of an acute mental health crisis.

Black people are three times more likely to be killed by the police than white people.

In 2017, ICE arrests were up at least 30% nationwide with several major cities seeing increases of as large as 80%.

I ask you to take a minute to sit with those numbers, what they actually mean. Statistics can seem faceless and distant, but behind each of these brutal numbers are thousands of humans: our patients, our neighbors, our friends, our families.  We live in a time of cages and walls, brutality and alienation.  Some of this violence has dramatically escalated since 45’s election and some is at least 500 years old, stemming from the foundation of genocide of indigenous people and the enslavement of African people that this country is built on.  

Working in community acupuncture clinics, we know this reality intimately.  We treat the way it manifests in the body every single day.  We offer fleece blanket nests, comfortable recliners, tiny needles as one small tool to support people in getting through their days, in feeling a little stronger, a little braver, a little more capable, in a little less pain.   For me, some days, that work feels so critical to the bigger transformations all of us desperately need, and some days, I leave the clinic wondering how we can do more, be more, because people are dying and there is no time to lose.

I hear from many people asking similar questions during this dark time: what is required of us if we are to survive, and beyond that, to thrive collectively as a species?  What is our role as community acupuncturists and community acupuncture clinics in the life-or-death struggle being currently waged against capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy?  What will it take for all of us to get free and how do we become who and what we need to be to get there?

I don’t have answers, but I know that any way we get there will be together.  It’s time for us to dig deep into our communities, learn about the movements coalescing and leading the way from the frontlines of those directly facing mass incarceration, criminalization, and deportation, and share our questions, ideas, experiments, and challenges with each other.  Maybe you’ve been trying something new every day to support movements in your town, maybe you’ve been hungry for comradeship and collaboration, maybe you’ve been unsure of what your role is and how to begin.  Wherever you are, however you are trying to link up and support the movement for Black lives, for immigrant justice, climate justice, economic justice, queer and trans liberation, we want to be in conversation and motion together.  Organizing is the only way we ever win and winning is the only option for so many of us.

For those of you who missed it, check out the Movement Building Circle’s first political education webinar on white supremacy, criminalization, and trauma here.  Veteran organizers and healing justice practitioners Francisca Porchas and Mark-Anthony Johnson break down health and wellness as a political strategy to build power, the legacy of healthcare practitioners integrated into movements for abolition, and the importance of building resilience within individuals and movements. It’s deep, it’s informative, and it’s critical knowledge and analysis we need to figure out how to get in where we fit in and become more powerful together.

We also invite you to participate in the Movement Building Clinic Assessment Survey.  It’s an opportunity to reflect on your clinic’s work aligning with and fortifying movements for social justice, to question where you are and where you want to be, and what you need to get there.  Your answers will inform the MBC’s future work, as we want to build our collective POCA muscle to help move us all forward towards justice.   We also hope to develop discussion-into-action groups where clinics and punks working through similar questions can connect and help each other strategize ways forward.

I’ve heard people say repeatedly that “we are made for these times.”  I struggle to embody that, but I know that there’s no way through this mess but forward, and there’s no way forward except leveraging the tools we have available to us, together.

As Black freedom fighter Assata Shakur famously said,  

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.”


– Caroline Picker, Movement Building Circle

Author: nicolemaniez

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