As friends and colleagues, HoneyRoot’s Council for Unheard Voices wants to inform you about a situation that we’ve been inside of with an important person in our shared community, Pilar Mejia. Our journey practicing Healing Justice together is a lifelong practice, and there are times when we are confronted by our failures, in which we humbly seek to look at the places where we erred both as a Council and as individuals. We write to speak of a current episode in our learning evolution.
In recent months, we’ve learned from Pilar, that through a sequence of occurrences, she has felt under-supported in bringing awareness to choices we were making around producing an outside facilitator’s racial justice work. She felt dissatisfied and disappointed with how we, as an organization and then as the Council for Unheard Voices, tended the situation. From her point of experience, she felt like she was asked to do more emotional work than she felt was hers to do. In efforts to tend to the issues that stemmed from this unwarranted labor, the Council met to further unpack the circumstances around it. At a certain point in the process, Pilar voiced that she was not wanting to further discuss the issue. The rest of the Council felt it was important to continue the conversation as a necessary step towards developing protocols and agreements, however. She believed naming her wish to stop the conversation was setting a boundary with the Council, and as there was no consensus around this, one of the Council members continued to ask Pilar questions (via email). She thus experienced this as a boundary crossing, which led to further harm between she and other Council members. Additionally, there were a couple of communications that occurred between Council members that did not include Pilar. Upon learning this, she felt wrongly excluded. She has since chosen to leave the HoneyRoot Community.
In retrospect, we see that not having previously established guidelines and rules of engagement in our Council, limited our resources to create a strong enough container to support times of active conflict. This is something we intend to move forward to putting in place and sincerely regret the harm it caused Pilar, and all members. Though it is vitally important for Council to be accountable to Pilar, it is also necessary to give a more complete view of all the dynamics of this situation of rupture to briefly say that particular members of Council experienced harm from Pilar as well.
Given the relational values (growth through repair, for example) that are near and dear to our hearts, we are quite heartbroken by the way this has gone down and seriously looking at the ways all members could have engaged differently that would have prevented this rupture. Most importantly, the Council feels moved to transform this medicine into learning and opportunity. We want all people to feel heard, respected, and cared for, no matter their location within the dynamic. We are taking the steps that we know how to take in an effort to repair all relations that have been fractured through this experience, including mediation. We are learning, listening and responding to the best of our ability, while staying in integrity with the values of the organization.
What has really come home for us in this experience is that we want to work in a field of mutually supportive, trusting relationships, a field of mutual accountability *where appropriate (because of course, sometimes accountability does only go one way). We want to learn together.
We have learned some invaluable lessons that we would like to share with you, our larger community.
First, Pilar attempted to share her concerns about the facilitator with the Council and unfortunately, the organizers, missing the cue, did not follow-up with her about them. Had the organizers followed up, they would have learned these were concerns about cultural appropriation, white supremacy and imperialism, that should have invited in wider conversations, within the Council.
Shortly after this, Ember (Council member and Support/Event Production Staff) began producing an event with the facilitator. Pilar then contacted Ember and Dev more directly with concerns about this facilitator’s integrity as a racial justice educator. Ultimately, Ember asked Pilar to reach out to the facilitator for any additional information she was needing. It was inappropriate of Ember to ask Pilar to do the emotional labor of establishing safety for herself within a white women's space with a white facilitator. This is an example of the harm caused when the laboring for safety is placed on the person (especially women of color) that is attempting to enter into a space where they are not of the dominant culture.
We do not take this misstep lightly and seek to bring this mistake to the larger community to ensure that we as a Council, as well as everyone voluntarily involved with HoneyRoot, knows that this relational dynamic is harmful and perpetuates systems of oppression that we seek to dismantle. We, the Council, strive to hold ourselves accountable to the ways we moved unconsciously and will be working to put systems in place to ensure that we remain beholden to this understanding. We name this with you all so you are clear that as a part of this field, accountability for harm is a necessary, albeit ouchy, step in creating a field of true safety and inclusivity.
Though we cannot undo this wrong, we understand the power dynamics that bypassing our responsibilities as producers of an event can play into and the ways it perpetuates supremacist behavior. We, the Council, have since decided that every outside facilitator that is invited in to the HoneyRoot field to do social justice work needs to be reviewed by the Council to highlight any blind spots that may exist.
Second, through this experience, we are reminded how crucial somatic awareness is to social justice efforts. If we’re wanting to be in healthy relationship to one another, it is imperative that we learn how to set and maintain our own boundaries, as needed. We must learn how to be in relation to our own inner terrain and be in supportive relationship with triggered or traumatized bodies. It is essential we learn and practice keeping ourselves safely connected to our own centers, while simultaneously staying in right relationship to the people and circumstances that surround us. We must grow the capacity to love ourselves and one another as we stumble and move through the highs and lows of the expansion process. We must practice self-regulation. This rupture reminds us that we need to be accountable to not replicating systems of oppression, as well as each of us being accountable to our own inner work. This applies to all of us, no matter where we are located in the many layers of cultural hierarchy as well as individual racial identities. We must keep ourselves connected to Nature, the ground that we share, the heart that weaves us together so we can remain present when rupture occurs and mindfully self-reflect on the harms that we have caused.
This rupture highlights the ways we unconsciously act out of alignment with our intended visions. As we seek to learn from this, the Council is taking the following steps to ensure we act in integrity with our core beliefs and values.
We will continue to meet as a Council and work relationally to address the current manifestations of rupture that continue within our circle - both due to harm caused by us and by Pilar. We will remain in relationship in an effort to provide support and healing to those who have remained on the Council and continue to experience harm.
We are working on a return offering to Pilar that both seeks to repair the harms we have caused while remaining in alignment with our values, honoring the relational field we strive to represent.
We are currently moving from within this rupture toward creating clear agreements and protocols for the Council as well as all future committees, working groups, and HoneyRoot as a whole to establish safety, accountability and clearer guidelines of engagement that are in alignment with generative processes that lead to creative insight, action and repair, rather than breakdown and relational rupture.
In an effort to remain humble and end behaviors that perpetuate harm, we have chosen not to disclose personal and intimate details of this interaction, and instead seek to name our shortcomings and the intense labor being put in to address these issues. We stand as a Council to unite around these ruptures and humbly move forward in a healing way - and we respect and honor Pilar and her decision to step away. We trust each of you as autonomous beings, to evaluate the circumstances and the integrity of actions taken and situate yourself in relationship to the field that honors your needs and capacities.
We want to thank you each for your work and your ability to hold these complicated relationships with love and compassion. We are forever humbled by the struggle toward inclusivity, and inspired by the healing that comes when we truly engage with the challenges that these processes present.
If this rupture is impacting you and more information would help you sit more comfortably with the situation, certain members are making themselves available for further discussion. Just reach our way.
The ground is our shared Home. The heart is our Center. Somatics is our Path.