10 10, 2019

SAWBONNA: What is the meaning of “ally”? & Senator Kim Pate.

By |2019-10-12T04:34:54-07:00October 10th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

This morning at Centennial College, I had the joy of sharing the stage with Senator Kim Pate.

Senator Pate is an ally.

What exactly is an ally?

In the framework of Sawbonna, which is both a new model of social justice & a new model of restorative justice, an ally  is someone who does not choose an us versus them dialectic when it comes to justice as a lived and living experience.  An ally is someone who does not choose offender over victim or victim over offender. No matter the relationship to either or both.

An ally does not want to be known because of titles or awards.

An ally wants to know what you stand for.

And as the saying goes, if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

Part of the sharing this morning addressed a pressing issue.

The issue of: choosing a side. The side of the offender or the side of the victim.

Sawbonna addresses the fact (shown in the very act of Senator Kim Pate and me standing side-by-side, witnessing and supporting each other) that empowerment within the context of Sawbonna: shared -humanity, is not negated by anguish, life-long grief, or trauma. Sawbonna is work for and with and because of justice that cries out to be lived.

Empowerment is certainly not negated by being accepted into spaces where by reason  of a title before or after one’s name, a person is somehow deemed more worthy to be heard than another. To be seen. To be Sawbonna-ed. To Sawbonna.

The complexity of being human, means that to live with paradox, is to walk the liminal spaces, the frontier places, where it is not necessary to be forgiven or to forgive; not necessary to eradicate anger, anguish, and volcanic rage, just to look nice.

Sawbonna means we are in shared-humanity. And humanity includes the gamut of our emotions, our thoughts.

Anger is not revenge. Wanting revenge is not revenge.

We may not be able to, and we should not be expected to, do anything but see ourselves to another day, particularly after brutality faces us and wears our body, flesh, soul; however, allies do not pick a side. We walk with paradox. We hold our responsibility to speak truth to power with a focus, commitment, and tenacity that wills a new way of being in the world.

Empowerment is key. And no one gives it to us. We must decide how we want it. And why.

Sawbonna invites us to come to know our allies.  To be an ally. Because shared-humanity matters. It is a very practical choosing. And you do not have to be forgiving. Nice. Accepted into any system.

Sawbonna carries the paradox. Of all that it means to be complex human beings.

29 07, 2019

Sawbonna: George Elliott Clarke. An Apology is Not Enough.

By |2019-07-29T06:18:10-07:00July 29th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Recently on CBC’s Cross Country Check-Up, the wonderful and inspiring writer, George Elliott Clarke, said two brief sentences, which moved me in a profound manner.

“Apologies are not enough. Empowerment is.” 

I took these words with me to my Social Analysis to Social Action (GNED500) students at Centennial College, as we discussed voice and agency. We discussed the pressing importance of  unpacking words and ideas. Doing so to strengthen our own relationships with social analysis and social action. Choosing to be informed in our capacity to be decisive agents in  own meaning-making, we spoke of, is essential. And meaning making is symbiotically linked to the personal and the political of each of our actions. And inactions.

Not only is it incumbent upon us to unpack what an apology means. It is incumbent upon us to follow the lineage and the trail  of who is saying those words of apology  and why. Learning about the connected web of relationships, tied to specific choices, can reveal many hidden facts. Facts that press us to ask if an apology holds any merit at all.

Seeking and creating opportunities for empowerment with community and allies, is crucial.

Theodore’s Place Virtual Healing Home for Crime Survivors is a response of victims’ empowerment.

As well, it is an act that underscores that “apologies are not enough.” There is a growing recognition and redress to the urgency that though restorative justice is supposed to be victim-entered, it is not.

Sawbonna, a new model of restorative justice, resting comfortably side-by-side with George Elliott Clarke’s exquisite wisdom, underscores that voice and agency insist on both equality and equity. Victims  being used as pawns by researchers, agencies, government, institutions, offenders, following their own inflamed egos or bending to the will of funders, will continue to work for empowerment. Never being side-tracked from Sawbonna: shared-humanity.

And Sawbonna thrives on and by and because of empowerment.  An apology is not enough.