Congratulations to Marlanda Dekine & Scott Neely on receiving the 2016 Mary Thomas Civic Leadership & Community Change award!
We Are Healers
Acceptance Speech for SPCF Annual Meeting
Marlanda Dekine & Scott Neely
March 22, 2016
Thank you for the honor you bestow on us tonight, on us and on everyone who has built and supported Speaking Down Barriers. Thank you, Mary Thomas, for your vision to create this award, to foster innovation and change in our community. Thank you to the Selection Committee, for your willingness to honor our whole team tonight. We do this work together, and we are moved that you saw that and sought to recognize it publically. And thank you to so many people—so many of you who are here tonight, and so many of you who may never be in this room but who are absolutely essential to this work. Thank you.
We are healers. And the healing work that we do is not only to build understanding. Understanding is vitally important, but it is not enough. Because racism is not fundamentally about hate or opinion. Racism is about power, the power to exploit one group of people in order to benefit another. This is how it began, and this is how it continues. But how do we heal this terrible thing we have created?
The answer is: share power. If we have the power to take from one another, we can choose to empower one another instead. In the gatherings that we facilitate, the trainings that we offer, and through performances and speaking engagements, we challenge participants not only to face the past, but also to choose the future. Every one of us has power. If racism is about the power to exploit, we end racism when we share our power—economic, political, creative, spiritual—to build one another up. This is beyond diversity and inclusion. This is mutuality. This is life together. This is not impossible. It is transformative.
We do no one any favors if we underestimate the challenge this brings. The word “share” elicits fear, anxiety, and criticism. It seems too soft and too hard at once. But it is the work.
And so, in gratitude, we will use your gift tonight to launch a new program of Speaking Down Barriers. We will offer healing retreats for the social workers and counselors, the journalists and poets, the teachers and thinkers, the volunteers and activists who pour themselves out to fight racism and to transform our life together. These people endure criticism, risk, and strain, often with very little support. More often than we may know, they are physically threatened and emotionally battered for the work they do. That really happens. And yet they serve us all, to call us to a better life. We will offer these healers a time set apart, to step away from their challenges and to heal—so that they can do their work with even greater power.
This is one small way that we can share power, a power you have shared with us tonight. What you have shared with us, we will share with them, for the transformation of our world. Together. Thank you.