When I first learned about the Movement for Black Lives Convening, I was immediately excited. As a mental health clinician, I had been having an internal conversation about the need for Black spaces, a safe space meant for us to heal and just be. This was perfect. Being at the Convening, I got everything I could ask for. I had the opportunity to attend the Emotional Emancipation Circle, a session held by Erika Totten on how to implement and facilitate weekly support groups for Black people for the purposes of processing stress, violence, and aggression related to racism and White supremacy. I also attended a session hosted by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration called Welcome to America: the Black Immigrant Experience of Anti-Black and Anti-Immigrant State Violence in the U.S., which provided a lens on intersectionality and the universality of Black Lives Matter.
It was amazing, being among Black excellence and brilliance, seeing beautiful Black people in all their essence and diversity, and feeling right at home. I came home reinvigorated, with a heightened sense of pride, motivation, inspiration, and a full heart and soul. I went to the M4BL Convening for its healing qualities, but I got so much more out of it. I did not realize how much I would learn and glean from a short weekend.
First, I was reminded to be confident in my strengths and how they contribute to the movement. Each person has their own strengths, resources, and expertise. The movement is not only about what is seen out on the forefront, but about the genius in the background too. Even if you are not on the front lines regularly, you are needed. Secondly, I was encouraged to be confident in the capacity of my own voice. In my advocacy, I have a tendency to be observant and strategic. But, there are times things just need to be said as soon as it comes to mind, and done so unapologetically. Next, I was reminded to be confident in our capacity and adaptability. Our people are strong and resilient, and should never forget that. Though many try to say we are apathetic or "can't get our stuff together," our movement is historical and has been ongoing; we just have to often adjust due to deliberately placed roadblocks. We must never forget that this movement never died, and is just revitalized continuously.
Lastly, we must be confident that we are indeed one family and we have so much love. This weekend only reinforced that. From a passing smile and "how are you doing?" and the short elevator conversations to the deeper discussions about social ills and next steps, I connected with many, because despite being different in many ways, we are all part of the Black experience and understand that all Black lives do matter.
I left the M4BL Convening, with the mission of being intentional, proud, and unapologetic. I look forward to the next year's assembly of Black lives. I want to express extreme gratitude to ONE DC for making my attendance at this convening possible.
Gabrielle Z. Jackson
ONE DC member
Howard University School of Social Work