Story Nyemadi Louise Dunbar
Video D.A. Bullock
Design & Illustration Melanie Walby
One. Two. Three. Four. We can no longer count how many times we have been here before. Lives ending unexpectedly at the violent hands of a police state, readers opening articles to make sense of the world around them, families and friends unwillingly learning the many sides of grief.
As the last day of 2020 approached, many were filled with the hope that a fresh year could bring renewal into their lives. But on December 30, 2020, officers of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) would try to work against that hope by yet again deciding a life was theirs to claim — this time 23-year-old Dolal Idd.
A life spoken about in the past tense too soon and a police department’s absent accountability is a familiar cadence, a cadence that community members and activists will not accept.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Jyn Erso — the reluctant hero of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — says “rebellions are built on hope.” Here on earth, systemic racism has taken many things from Black people over the past several centuries, but hope is not among them. There is plenty of it to be found in the collective quest to usher in a reimagined world where Black lives truly matter.
Hope can be found in the leadership of Representative Hodan Hassan of District 62A and Twin Cities healer and life coach Dr. Joi Lewis. For both activists, new life comes not only from the betterment of institutions but in justice for our souls.
“That’s why they call it post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s post, it’s done,” says Representative Hassan. “But for us Black people in this country it continues.” Hassan sees the cost of racism and anti-Blackness happening in a loop, beginning in school and building on its developmental and societal burdens into adulthood. Her career as a social worker lends itself to recognizing the internal and external needs of improperly policed people whose humanity is purposefully targeted. And, as she notes, a need to focus on protecting oneself instead of being protected has damaging effects on how youth and adults interact with their surroundings. This is essential to account for when addressing the systemic and personal needs of people asked to engage in a society designed to protect only some of its people.
“That’s why they call it post traumatic stress disorder. It’s post, it’s done. But for us Black people in this country it continues.”
Rep. Hodan Hassan (District 62A)
Minnesota House of Representatives
Like Hassan, Dr. Joi Lewis of the Healing Justice Foundation envisions a reimagined Minneapolis — one where Black people thrive as their full selves in harmonious concert with a community and systems they’ve co-created. The phrase “may the revolution be healing” is deeply embedded in Dr. Lewis’ work, and the ongoing cultural work of taking on trauma that is individual, generational, modern day, and historical. It is work that sees people and families remedying trauma that, as Dr. Lewis describes, has “steeped into our genes.”
“As I always say, may the revolution be healing.”
Dr. Joi Lewis
For Representative Hassan, healing looks like a clean slate and a new set of colors: “A bad system cannot be reformed. We need to re-envision what safety looks like for Black people in this country and build that from the ground.”
But what is the path to that renewal? Dr. Lewis believes that a corrupt system cannot siphon itself off from its deeply rooted flaws overnight. “It takes building trust, it takes having the healing practices in place to be able to move,” she says. Taken together, the sentiments of Dr. Lewis and Representative Hassan are both a firm rejection of the status quo, and an invitation to see the light of possibility.
“It takes building trust, it takes having the healing practices in place to be able to move.”
Dr. Joi Lewis
“It is scientific, it’s environmental, it is human” says Dr. Lewis of the coordinated trauma Black people experience. It’s the all-encompassing reason behind both activists’ efforts to center peace and justice in their shared quest to re-balance power.
Over 12 films spanning 44 years, millions of people have watched as a determined resistance fought to eradicate hate and build an inclusive society on the foundations of love and care. Here on Earth, Black people have been targeted by evil in the form of white supremacy for far too many moons.
Though we’ve been here before, looking injustice directly in the eye, white supremacy’s repetition will not render us looped into chaos and despair, for we have a hope that is rebellious, beautiful and lasting.