Launched by The Corps Network (TCN), the Moving Forward Initiative seeks to expand career exposure and increase employment in conservation and resource management for youth and young adults of color. Through this effort, TCN offered a workshop called Sending the Right Signal as a tool to explore unconscious bias and structural racism within the Corps. This was also an opportunity for the Corps Members to learn from each other as well as an opportunity to interact with Corps Members from a Civic Corps based in California.
Below is Cohort 21 Corps Member Israel Sanchez’s reflection on the workshop.
My experience in the Sending The Right Signal workshop was enlightening. Their approach to Anti-Racism is so unique and conscious, truly thought provoking. I wrote a whole other, vigorously detailed and extensive version of this blog post that included some of the thought processing this workshop triggered for me. Something to take away from the workshop is that speaking about an issue, bringing awareness to an issue is only part of the work. When something is so deeply rooted, just identifying it isn’t going to bring the changes needed, you have to identify where on the plot you fall, what seeds you’re nurturing, your contribution and accountability. The concept of shadow work came up, which is essentially a direct confrontation of deeply rooted issues and the patterns and behaviors that come with them as well as triggers. It’s something we could all benefit from on a therapeutic level for our personal traumas but it could also be beneficial on a societal level in deconstructing and reforming the impact and patterns of systemic racism. I saw the workshop as a shadow work session, teaching us about shadow work in relation to anti-racism, teaching us how we can integrate shadow work in our anti-racism work and how vital shadow work is to anti-racism activism. A shadow work method was even in the rules of the workshop, sitting with uncomfortable feelings instead of chasing them away.
My take on shadow work is that we have multiple aspects to ourselves, including a shadow aspect. Practicing shadow work helps us to address, heal, and integrate that shadow aspect into our conscious minds so that our past traumas and our old patterns no longer have a hold on us. Through shadow work we can be free from the chains of our past, we can be free from the cages in our minds we may feel ourselves in sometimes. Seeing how integral shadow work is in anti-racism, this is work that when taught properly, when implemented into our daily lives, can bring MASS healing and liberation to society.