When I started my sabbatical a year ago, I picked "Collective Healing" as its theme. I was completing an intensive 200-hour yoga teacher training at that time. We were amid the #CommunicationSoWhite that I have started writing about here. Therefore, "collective healing" seemed like an appropriate theme to pick. Little did I realize that collective healing and care work would become central in my life during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Collective healing using a trauma-informed approach has always been a part of my scholarship. As a diversity educator, campus leader, and nonprofit co-founder, I have centered inclusion and transformation in my work. In all my campus and community-oriented diversity initiatives such as Media Rise, Difficult Dialogues Project, the Inclusive Pedagogy Workshop Series, and the First-Gen Freshman Initiative, we focus on creating safe, inclusive spaces for healing and inclusive storytelling. We also create spaces for empathy-building, solidarities, and community-building. We design communication initiatives using the ethics of care and aim to create nurturing communities of support to bridge social inequalities.
I shared some of these thoughts at my virtual talk last month at the San Diego State University's cleverly named SoCAL (Society of Communication and Leadership) program -- located in Southern California (SoCal). I spoke about "Inclusive Leadership: A Communication-Based Approach for Transformative Student Leadership," one of the topics we discussed was about the importance of student leaders in creating safe spaces in both online and real-world contexts. We talked about who is left behind, unheard, and erased from typical communicative networks in our communities.
Stories and narratives have the power to challenge systemic inequalities and to affirm our intersectional identities. Organizations and institutions should create feedback systems in place for honest conversations on inclusive, well-being, and collective change.