Reflections on Oakland’s Healing Centers
Oakland Unite is honored to have supported Youth Uprising, Youth Employment Partnership, and Healthy Communities/Healthy Oakland in hosting Healing Centers after the verdict in Ferguson, Missouri was announced. The Healing Centers provided safe alternative locations for Oakland residents to share their reactions to the verdict, and included facilitators to promote productive dialogue.
In West Oakland approximately 287 people came out to two locations over three days to eat BBQ, dance, and talk about local and national issues raised by the verdict. Healthy Communities/Healthy Oakland coordinated the events and encouraged community participation. One participant said it was “wonderful for the community.” The Healing Centers attracted a diverse crowd, including local firefighters, politicians, local churches, and community members young and old.
At Youth Employment Partnership in Central Oakland approximately 60-70 youth participated in the Healing Center over two days. At this location there was initially a heated dialogue about the injustice of the verdict. The youth watched “Fruitvale Station” while they snacked on pizzas. After the video, YEP facilitated a dialogue that focused on productive ways to protest injustice and make a difference in the community.
Youth Uprising hosted the Healing Center in East Oakland. Over the two days the Healing Center was open they had approximately 75 attendees. The first night YU had a live video feed of the proceeding in Ferguson and participants were very emotional. This fostered dialogue as participants voiced their reactions to the images. The following night participants were invited to attend YU’s annual Thanksgiving feast where they ate warm food, and this was followed by a continuation of the discussion from the night before. YU staff shared that the experience was very powerful and that participants appreciated the focus on healing and coming together.
All of the organizations and Healing Center participants agreed that it was a very positive experience. There are current conversations about how to provide space and foster dialogue around these issues on a more consistent basis because the need is there. Stay tuned…