You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served. — Nina Simone
I’ve learned to take heed of those haunting and wise words from the multifaceted artist, rest her soul, but yet, what do you do when the “table” is the reality that you live, day in and day out? When the proverbial table is the land which you’ve known nothing but, yet oftentimes treats you and those like you as though it doesn’t know you... or better yet, doesn’t want to know you?
As a black woman in America, the current climate is and has been a hard pill to swallow. Knowing that someone loves you, a few people love you, but you’re not loved in many spaces. Wanted, accepted, and in some cases allowed… in 2019. You learn to cherish the loving spaces you’re in with all of your might, and cultivate those spaces, and appreciate that the operations and practices within them become spiritual. They propel you to “keep on keeping on.”
Some days, waking up feels as though it’s a radical act. Gracefully putting one foot in front of the other is almost self-care, when it seems as though so many would prefer not to see me or anyone of my kind at all. Despite it all, it serves as a reminder that while there may be forces against you, there are benevolent beings pushing, rooting, and assisting you in making a way, and helping pave the road of your success. How do I know this? Simply because I’m still here.
So, in following Nina Simone's advice... to be quite honest? It's a constant work in progress. I’m not always sure what to do, or how to maneuver, and I’m learning that that is just fine. What I do know is that the forces that have made room for me, and have eloquently placed me in places that were made for me, are serving me in beneficial ways… and will continue to do so.
Social psychology tells us that the innate need to belong is an intrinsic motivation. That ultimately, it is naturally satisfying to want to belong to a group. That it feels good. Battling feedback that doesn’t always make you feel welcome where you reside — just for existing — is detrimental to your psyche, and yet still I go on. Still we go on. I find hope in that, and that hope gives me not always the peace that passes all understanding, but sometimes just a sense of understanding, even when I don’t possess peace.
Editor’s Note: We’re honored to include three exclusive video interviews in this issue of Catalyst — all of which speak to the urgency inherent in these troubling times.
Next, New York City peace activist Erica Ford, whose peacebuilding efforts have helped transform crime-ridden neighborhoods into more peaceful, violence-free communities, explains why she’s dedicated her life to healing trauma and giving love to an at-risk population that’s largely been ignored and discounted.
Finally, be sure to check out the new blog post by Shift Network President Stephen Dinan, which poses the question, Is Marianne Williamson Being Subtly Discriminated Against? And Why It Matters. Here’s an excerpt:
Diversity is not just about skin color or sexual orientation. It’s also about worldviews — and Marianne offers a credible, powerful voice for a worldview that is not normally represented in our civic process. In speaking for that “hiding in plain sight” group of Cultural Creatives, she helps an important part of the Democratic base become more engaged, because they feel seen, represented, and empowered to participate in our political process. Whether she's likely to win the nomination or not isn't relevant here — she has more than earned her place on the stage as a serious and credible candidate. (To read more, click here).
Finally, we’d love to hear your answer to the question, What example of Black excellence in any sphere of influence have you celebrated recently? To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.
Freedom is never given; it is won.
— A. Philip Randolph, civil rights activist
I was patrolling with a crime-prevention group called the Guardian Angels in Virginia. We had stepped in and broken up a fight between two girls, but the crowd standing around watching did not want the fight broken up. So the crowd and the girls all turned on us. I was the patrol leader and there were only seven of us, three of whom were new recruits. I knew we had to retreat but I didn’t want to just take off running because that would excite the crowd and make them come after us even harder. So we just started walking away, but the crowd followed us, throwing rocks and getting more vocal and violent by the minute.
We are seeking unique and talented individuals for two important positions at The Shift Network: Sr. Director, Engineering
and Sr. Learning Products Manager.
If you are inspired and passionate about joining our team, please click here for more information about these positions. The Shift Network is committed to creating a diverse environment and is an equal opportunity employer.
Would you like to activate your gateway to higher consciousness and access vast reservoirs of peace, stillness, inner light, and divine guidance? Spiritual teacher Raja Choudhury will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Wednesday, February 20, at 10:00am Pacific to share how you can awaken and activate your Third Eye — and open up a richer, deeper understanding of reality and unimagined levels of insight, energy, and intuition. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
Would you like to discover deeper levels of healing by experiencing the spiritual dimensions of your body using the prana and qi of plant medicine? Renowned plant medicine pioneer David Crow will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Thursday, February 21, at 5:00pm Pacific to share how moving “beyond plant medicine” can help you tap into deeper, sustained health and wellbeing. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
In this 51-minute video interview exclusively for Catalyst, community peacebuilding advocate Don Samuels shares his thoughts on Black History Month, and the need to deal with America as a whole — the good and the bad, the black and the white — so that we can have a better present and a more hopeful future.
Young African American men used to complain individually from time to time about their treatment. Everybody could say, "Well, look at him." Or, "He has these issues,” or “He had a record,” or “The cops said that he was cursing at them or that he tried to get their gun." So you could dismiss those individual incidents. But then technology comes into play and captures things in real time, and publishes them in real time, and people are appalled that this is what the reality has been. "You mean, this is how it's been?"
People are shocked. African Americans for the most part are not shocked because they all have family members. All have moms and dads give their sons “the talk” about how to act around the police, so there's no shock there. That was not American history, that was African American reality. So not only is African American history being taught by the internet, African American reality is being taught, which now creates a new African American history.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
In this 16-minute video interview exclusively for Catalyst, New York City peace activist Erica Ford shares her plans and hopes for transforming New York City areas inhabited by at-risk inner-city youth to peaceful, violence-free communities.
I think by seeing so much tragedy, and seeing young people just be so hopeless, and seeing the impact of the system against us in terms of trying to stop us from just really disempowering people with basic necessities, it gave me the continual drive to want to make accessible to our young people more, to make hope real, to make the question of peace in our lifestyle real, and breaking the cycle of violence, both mentally and physically. Because of that, I decided to do a whole lot more and just keep going. Just keep going.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
In this 13-minute video interview exclusively for Catalyst, Marilyn Hollinquest, co-founder of the Radical Monarchs, shares how this social justice focus group of grade school girls creates opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities, and contribute radically to their communities.
So one of her first steps that she did is run for student-body president at her school, and she actually won. She said because of the trip to the Sacramento State Capitol, she saw how important it was for her to represent her community, and also to participate in her school's student body system. So directly from that trip, she was inspired to run for student body president. Thankfully, she won. She ran a successful campaign. She also recruited another Monarch from her school to help her run her campaign, and be her campaign manager. That was something that was really exciting, and inspiring.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
Rosalina Learpoora has always been surrounded by women. At age 18, she lives in an all-women village in northern Kenya, where she spends her evenings doing homework, fetching firewood or beading colorful jewelry. Learpoora has called Umoja home since she was 3. There, a group of 48 women live with their children in huts protected by thorny brush to keep away intruders. When a man trespasses, they notify the local police, who either issue a warning or arrest the culprit -- depending on the number of offenses.
White Lies Ijeoma Oluo On Privilege, Power, And Race The Sun magazine interview By Mark Leviton
“Race has always been a prominent part of my life,” Ijeoma Oluo writes in her new book, So You Want to Talk about Race. “I have never been able to escape the fact that I am a black woman in a white-supremacist country.”
There’s no way to avoid absorbing our American culture, which was designed to benefit white males. We absorb American racism in ways we’re not fully aware of. You can’t undo a lifetime of experience in a few years of work. While you are struggling against racism, the culture keeps reinforcing it, telling you who is “normal” and who isn’t, who deserves to be seen and who is made invisible. Racism is alive.
And I went in my wallet, and all I had was $9, and I handed him the $9, and he handed it to his wife, and he said, "Baby, go in the store and get something that we can eat." And the 99¢ store, I know what she's going to get, a can of pork and beans, some chips. That's what you can get from the 99¢ store. And she went in there and he turned to me and he said, "Mother, this changes everything." I smiled at him, I drove around the corner, and when I got to the other side of the BART station, I stopped the car, and I cried for 20 minutes. I pulled it together and I went to my house and I started crying again.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
Erica Ford, the CEO and Founder of LIFE Camp, has helped radically transform communities surrounding urban youth across New York City from ones of violence to peace. Here she speaks to her personal realization that we can't stop the violence around us if we don't create peace within.
In this 7-minute video that spiritual teacher Raja Choudhury created just yesterday, he explains how opening and activating your Third Eye can help you achieve total manifestation by wiping away trauma, dysfunction, and depression through intention, visualization, and realization. Click here to watch the video and read the transcript.
Join Subtle Activists and life partners David T. Nicol and Kate Naga the first Saturday of each month for their Web of Light Subtle Activism Series, in which they tap into a different quality of our shared essential presence as a strand of light in the global Web. February’s presentation, “Weaving Strands of Peace and Power,” is designed to help absorb and transmute excess hatred in the collective psychosphere. Click here to listen.
What if every relationship in your life was built on authenticity, conscious communication, and collaboration? Hosted by Shift Network co-founders Stephen Dinan and Devaa Haley Mitchell, theis 4-day virtual conference features more than 45 speakers — including Deva Premal and Miten, Gay and Katie Hendricks, Judith Ansara, Robert Gass, Lion Goodman, Carista Luminare, Andrew Harvey, Anodea Judith, and many others — supporting your journey to develop, nurture, and honor true, conscious partnership in every area of your life. Click here for more information and to register for free.
Join us for the world-famous annual International Yoga Festival on the banks of the holy Ganges river, nestled in the lap of the sacred Himalayas, the birthplace of yoga, at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Receive the darshan and inspiring, uplifting wisdom of revered saints, and the teaching and touch of renowned yoga teachers from across the world from a wide variety of lineages — plus, ecstatic kirtan, divine Ganga Aarti, and much, much more. The International Yoga Festival is a truly globally unique event, bringing together so many masters from so many traditions, cultures, and countries in one sacred, beautiful place! Click here to register online.
Wisdom 2.0 is the premiere gathering focused on exploring the intersection of wisdom and technology. Our flagship gathering is in San Francisco each year, where thousands of people from over 30 countries join in asking: “How do we live with greater MINDFULNESS, WISDOM, and COMPASSION in the digital age?” Past speakers include founders of Twitter, Facebook, and eBay. Click here to view the full list of speakers for this year’s event. Click here to register.
Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to their decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Soul Fire Farm, cofounded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. She is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. And now, with Farming While Black, Penniman extends that work by offering the first comprehensive manual for African-heritage people ready to reclaim their rightful place of dignified agency in the food system. This one-of-a-kind guide provides readers with a concise “how-to” for all aspects of small-scale farming. Click here for more information and to order your copy.
For several years, The Shift Network has hosted Indigenous leaders from around the world and invited them to share their sacred knowledge, rituals, and practices to guide us in a way of living that is sustainable, healthy, and just. We’re thus delighted that the Global Indigenous Wisdom Library makes this “virtual council” of leaders and their wisdom available for everyone, everywhere for free. The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a collection of audio and video interviews featuring Indigenous leaders from around the world sharing prayers, sacred songs, prophecies, spiritual teachings, and pathways to healing, as well as concrete examples for birthing a new era — one in which all members of the human family are treated with respect, understanding, compassion, and justice. This sacred wisdom is important medicine for us all.
The production of The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a gift from The Shift Network, designed to inspire, inform, and involve you by highlighting the voices and important messages of Indigenous leaders from around the world. We want to give a heartfelt thanks to Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. (“Brother Phil”) for his partnership in helping create this Indigenous Wisdom collection. And we thank all the speakers who have contributed to this body of knowledge. To discover more, click here.
World Peace Library. Designed for the layperson and professional peacebuilder alike, the World Peace Library has over 425 audio and video interviews with some of the most remarkable, inspiring peacebuilders in the world available to you at NO COST. You’ll find hundreds of hours of inspirational, peacebuilding, compassion-spreading talks and trainings at your fingertips with this FREE global resource. There’s no way you can’t come away from the World Peace Library deeply inspired, transformed — and part of the solution. Click here to find out how to take peace to the next level — and help co-create a global culture of peace that leaves a legacy of good for our children, our children’s children and all of humanity and life on earth.
BOOK BY STEPHEN DINAN: Sacred America, Sacred World. Infused with visionary power, Sacred America, Sacred World is a manifesto for our country’s evolution that is both political and deeply spiritual. It offers profound hope that America can grow beyond our current challenges and manifest our noblest destiny, which the book shows is rooted in sacred principles that transcend left or right political views. To order your copy, click here.
If you would like to submit something to The Catalyst, please see the submission guidelines: click here.
Read Danielle Anderson's opening letter in this issue, and reflect on how you can be more inclusive in the spaces you reside in — in a way that honors the viewpoints and life experiences of those who don’t look like you.
Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration. Our work includes the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns, and strategic advocacy for policy reform.
Click here to visit their website and to watch a 3-minute video, “The Sentencing Project: For a Better Justice System.” Click here to donate.
The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities, and contribute radically to their communities. The Radical Monarchs empower young girls of color so that they stay rooted in their collective power, brilliance, and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place. Each Radical Badge Unit involves learning about social justice and self-empowerment-focused topics through experiential field trips and workshops. Radical Badges girls can earn include Black Lives Matter, Radical Pride, Pachamama Justice, Radical Coding.
Treneti’s path of awakening the muse within came from much time spent alone in the woods learning to play bass and sing by listening the vibrations of the plants and meditating with the stars. Her musical messages come from a deep connection with the Earth and the Cosmos, she is a rainbow bridge. Treneti is well known for her work as a sound healing artist and has shared musical medicine in both North and Central America.
In Treneti’s own words:
My passion is creating music that resonates from inside; music that encourages the body to move and emanates holistic vibrations promoting peace and liberation in my life and the lives of my listeners. Experimental Soul Music is music that is unbound free to drift on and off the line of western music theory, free to go to unknown territories for the purpose of bringing forth uniquely resonate multidimensional energy fields. It is music that does not need to fully understand itself because it is anchored in the soul and reflecting our connection to all that is.
Click here to visit Treneti’s website, Soulful Resonance.
Click here to listen to samples of Treneti’s music.