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Wednesday November 20th 2019

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What is a ‘beloved community’?

Let’s move from Race to Culture

by Minkara Tezet, Cultural Wellness Center

 “Our goal is to create a beloved community and that will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It is in community (nuit) that a person is socialized (remut); he is given an identity, a place of belonging, human dignity, and personhood. The community (nuit) is a critical concept that infuses the word remut with meaning.  ‘Society’ here does not remain an abstraction devoid of a sense if cosmic purpose.”  – Seba Ahmed Azzahir

Part of my study at the Cultural Wellness Center has been to learn how to live and practice empathy, not sympathy. 

The empathy we are called to practice is a lost art. 

It is the practice of empathy where we meet the importance of Dr. King’s teachings about the beloved community.  It was through the protests, marches and boycotts King worked to show the world what it means to walk a mile in the shoes of someone else. Community is the consistent presence where we are reflections of people who feel like we feel and who feel what we feel. 

This is what I call community. 

King’s life exemplified, we are a community called to cultivate the empathy that we share with those closest to our hearts. His teachings force me to imagine what I want for those closest to my heart. What is the life I imagine for them?  

It is clear to me Dr. King was fighting in order that others might have empathy for the plight of Black people in the United States. For me the impact of this push to change the world has driven me to want for our family and our community to experience the capacity of this empathy that allows us to be together.  I want us to recognize we are created in the image of Creation. Our collective purpose is to see how our ability to create and produce connections beyond the pain is what gives us power.

 I have deep desire for people of African heritage to realize we have stories that connect us to the first time in Creation. These stories are what help us to see our capacity to demonstrate empathy. In practicing empathy, we reflect the divine presence in Kem (black man/black woman).

I am consciously aware that we can see the struggles we have experienced, and we can see the impact these experiences have placed on our ability to be empathetic towards one another or towards ourselves. 

The idea of the Beloved Community commits us to collectively practice empathy. And although it is painful to face the pains of the lives of those we care for, learning to see the value of empathy as we reconstruct the Beloved Community is what allows us to elevate past the pain.  Dr. King saw a better future for all of humanity through the healing of his people’s relationship with themselves. As he taught us to demonstrate the invisible power of blackness, he invoked purpose. As we continue to recover, we must see that community – Beloved Community – is meant for us.  

Seeing that we are community attaches us to the creative purpose of the universe. It is a place that we must create for ourselves, rebuild our sense of a collective purpose and vision. 

This cannot be done without us all being willing to search our hearts and share the truth that resides inside of our souls.  

The sharing gives us the power to see the value of empathy. Valuing empathy allows us to build in and with peace as the focus of our desire. Empathy is the bedrock of the Beloved Community. 

The rebuilding of the Beloved Community is at the heart of our desire to right the wounds of racialized objectification.  

Dr. King said, “He who works against community is working against the whole of creation.”  

The pain held in the heart of our people must no longer bind our beings to brutality of the past. In the cultivation and production of empathy we learn our humanities are intertwined. We have the difficult work of unravelling the levels of hidden pain in order to see how our truth telling and community healing can lift us beyond the suffering of being racially objectified. As I have considered the radical goal of Dr. King’s vision for a Beloved Community it becomes conceivable with the shift of “Moving from Race to Culture.”

Moving from Race to Culture forces each of us to see how humanity is harmed by racialized objectification. 

This shifting from race to culture requires we trace the journey of our peoplehood back to Creation, back to cosmos.  

To create the Beloved Community, we are required to begin to see how our action relate to an innate peace and harmony. It is in this learning to harmonize peace with ourselves we become capable of demonstrating empathy for others. 

The primary obstacle is a lack of empathy for others. We are in need of giving and receiving the acknowledgement that naturally comes from empathy. 

Healing begins in being able to empathize with the forces, energies, lives, beings, creatures in nature.  It begins when we are able to see the tree and feel the experience of the tree’s ability to survive a long harsh winter.

Founded in 1996, the mission of the Cultural Wellness Center is to unleash the power of citizens to heal themselves and build community. The Cultural Wellness Center is one of the primary community and cultural knowledge-production organizations in the Twin Cities region. They partner with organizations, institutions, and people within communities to develop models to solve problems and create lasting solutions. The Cultural Wellness Center is located within the Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St. Look on the back page of each Alley newspaper for more on its activities.

Editor’s note: This is reprinted from the MayDay 2019 tabloid courtesy of In The Heart of the Beast. This year marks the 400th anniversary of slave ships arriving to the new colonies that would beome the United States. Earlier than that, Africans had been seized by slave traders and brought to North America, South America, and the Caribbean since about 1501.

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