“Here we were understood, here we were safe”

Last month we created a space for 15 of our native, multiracial and alumni of color to come together and build their network, set personal goals and refine their tools for how to navigate, find a voice, and a sense of safety within the predominately white organizations and spaces where they may find themselves. The gathering took place over the course of three days in Atlanta, GA.

We spent the first day learning about the history of Atlanta’s racial and cultural history led by a culinary storyteller from Atlanta Food Walks. After filling their stomachs with samples of fried chicken, barbecue, savory pie, northern white beans, cornbread, Georgia Peach Iced Tea, & banana pudding we headed to the Latin American Association for a panel discussion about Atlanta’s Buford Highway and the impending gentrification of the city’s immigrant community.

The next day was a long and intense story-sharing experience, followed by a training with Theatre of the Oppressed. They spent the evening learning from professional mentors of color from the Atlanta Area. Having thoroughly practiced embodying and giving voice to each other’s stories, the group was ready to create short plays based on racism, sexual harassment, discrimination, and micro-aggressions they’d experienced in the workplace. We were then invited to interrupt the oppressive moments in their plays in order to experiment with different solutions or responses to the problem.

In true FoodCorps fashion, Emilio Botts ’15 commented about the retreat, “I needed these vitamins.”

To give you a window into the retreat’s impact, Tiffany Jones ’16 shared this reflection with us about her experience.

Indigenous Experience
It was a life changing moment
So many expectations of what’s to come
Meeting as strangers for the first time
Leaving as an army of one
Indigenous spirits finding kindred hearts
We found common ground in a ground breaking experience
Here we were understood, here we were safe &
in this moment we inhaled the spirit of grace
For the winter we gathered strength, wisdom, & courage
for we recognized the battles that are before us,
for the fall we embrace love, healing,
the finding of self and a family to belong.
On this day our names were spoken, our stories were told,
freedom was rendered & we were called victorious!
Never wanting to let go, we found vulnerability we’ve never known
Our powerful voices we have gained, while conquering the fears of our worlds.
~~Written By: Tiffany Jones-Carlisle