Breaking the Cycles of Violence in Oakland

The problem of police violence against young African-Americans is one of the most visible, best known social issues today, thanks in part to Black Lives Matter.  We helped the Numi Foundation establish a unique approach to addressing violence in Oakland, California (USA), in the ACTION project.

ACTION stands for A Creative Transformation In Our Neighborhoods.  Unfortunately ACTION never made it beyond the concept stage — but in the process, we had the opportunity to engage with many key stakeholders in the area, including the amazing people at the Attitudinal Healing Connection in Oakland.  Among many other amazing leaders in this project, AHC’s Executive Director blew us away: in one workshop, we asked the group to reflect on the root causes of violence in their city.  She said, “If we really want to talk about the root causes of violence in this city, we need to go back to slavery.”  

The room went dead silent, struck by that simple, profound, and wrenching truth.  Traumas ripple across time, passed from generation to generation.  Violence motivated by racism, whether in America, South Africa, or anywhere else, takes literally centuries to heal.  How to increase the healing process?  Our takeaway was: start by acknowledging the truth — which begins with want to know it.   

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