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Nadrat Amos

On Tuesday, July 5th, the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice hosted a panel discussion on the intersection of restorative justice and intergenerational healing featuring Jan Berger, the Community Manager at the Community Healing Network (CHN), and Terrancé Akins, a Restorative Justice Facilitator at the Raphah Institute. This post summarizes some of the key take-aways. You can also watch a recording of the full event or read the transcript.

Jan eloquently described how her work confronts the lie of white supremacy and Black inferiority, a lie we have all been told, by identifying and deconstructing it intergenerationally. Through interconnectedness, she said, we can mobilize Black people across the diaspora to heal from the trauma caused by anti-Black racism. Building off of Jan’s explanation, Terrancé noted that healing starts by addressing intergenerational trauma that has been passed down in families and communities of color. He went on to explain how we must reverse the effects of that trauma to start a new cycle of “survivors and thrivers” who can create a new world. In fact, intergenerational trauma is often a major component of why the youth Terrancé works with cause harm in the first place. Addressing how that trauma has impacted young people through a healing framework and embracing rather than shaming them is key to the restorative justice process. Terrancé also acknowledged how that healing process can be at odds with the ongoing perpetuation of unaddressed structural and historical oppression in the United States. He urged attendees to let this explanation of past and present structural harms inform the way they approach racial justice work.

When asked how she viewed the relationship between intergenerational trauma and restorative justice, Jan reflected on the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, which loosely translates to “I am because we are.” The community healing and “emancipation circles” CHN leads embody this concept of ubuntu by creating space for Black folks to support each other in responding to tragedy, celebrating triumphs, and deconstructing white supremacy. Practicing ubuntu through generations helps Black communities deconstruct the aforementioned white supremacist lie and begin to heal from the harm it’s produced. Similarly, restorative justice flourishes in settings where people understand the interconnected nature of our existence because community members value, respect, and feel accountable to one another and their community as a whole.

Finally, Terrancé recommended a multidimensional approach to intergenerational healing with community organizers working towards healing in their respective fields. He explained that Black people have been traumatized by many institutions such as housing, education, and the carceral system. To address this and continue intergenerational healing through restorative justice, people working in all of these sectors need to collectivize and work together. In Terrancé’s words, we must “Keep organizing and keep mobilizing . . . [For, we] must embody lightness to overcome and overshadow darkness.”

As mentioned in the webinar, The Community Healing Network hosts weekly, virtual Tuesday Emotional Lunch Breaks where team and community members meet in a Black affinity space to encourage rest and resilience. CHN invites Black identifying folks to join these Breaks at noon EST by registering here.

Nadrat Amos is a summer intern at Impact Justice for the Restorative Justice Project. She is a senior at Howard University where she majors in Sociology and Psychology. She also serves as the curriculum chair for JustUs, a student-led juvenile justice group at Howard that offers enrichment programming to incarcerated DC youth.

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