Tag Archive for: social justice

I don’t know about you all, but 2024 has me exhausted already! I feel like I’m constantly running late, trying to catch up with my never ending to-do list, while spinning in circles to put out the fires I see every which way I turn.

This feeling isn’t new to me. I know that it’s my nervous system dysregulation staying on high alert because I’m so used to being in a state of crisis response that I forget that there’s an alternative way to be. And while it feels like this is happening 100% of the time I’m awake, I also know that it’s not true, that I do have moments where I feel at peace and settled. It’s just that those moments seem to be fewer and further apart. This was highly evident last week when our senior dog, Tyson, was sick with a GI issue and needed to be let out every 2 hours throughout the night. While my husband was able to take him out and fall asleep within minutes of coming back inside, it took me at least an hour each time to fall back asleep, my mind spinning with worry over Tyson.

So, when I woke up the other morning to find a comment on our Facebook page questioning our trauma-informed, social justice lens as to why we are discriminating against white folks in rural areas who want to access training with us by only offering scholarships and discounts to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), I felt my entire body respond on high alert. This is what Resmaa Menakem and other scholars refer to as a racial trauma response. I know it well and I have learned to navigate these instinctive reactions with mindful breathing, movement, and reaching out for support to ensure that I respond from a place of solidity rather than reactivity. I also knew that because this was in a public forum, many of our HERD Community members from marginalized spaces would likely be experiencing the same nervous system dysregulation in reading the comments. Not only did I now need to find support for myself, I also needed to hold space for others. As the comments thread grew throughout the day, I found myself expending emotional labor, time, and energy that was drawn from a rapidly draining well to attend to the conversation as it unfolded. It was a long day that was hijacked by one social media comment.

While the original comment was later edited to say that it was an innocent question to invite discussion, as the author felt “taken aback by the backlash” as others chimed in, I’m left wondering what impact they were hoping for? If the question was asked in innocence, it would suggest an expectation that it’s up to us to educate them about power differentials and the myth of reverse racism, or at the very least that we owe them an explanation of our admissions policies. Despite the fact that the comment was made in response to a post that outlined all the different discounts that we make available to increase accessibility – that they were actually eligible for – they focused on our BIPOC discounts. Did they want clarity on why that exists? If so, they came to the right place.

Because I’m not broadcasting this to elicit additional responses to the original thread. Nor am I sharing this as a “woe is me” narrative. I’m here to say that at The HERD Institute, we are firmly committed to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion, and we offer discounts and various scholarships to make training more accessible to meet this goal. For us, being trauma informed also means being social justice informed and that means working within a framework of cultural competency, which necessitates us all to look at our own perspectives and how we came to them. We are aware that this is a point of discomfort for some and we are open to sitting in that discomfort with people if they are willing to engage in that process. There are many training providers in this field and we encourage people to find a provider that fits with their values. We are not here to persuade you to see things our way. Our aim is to support our students who have chosen to train with us because of our values, to question how we know what we think we know, and how that impacts the world around us, specifically in the context of horse and human connections.

As the day unfolded, I noticed something magical. While holding space for our community, I received numerous messages from members checking in to ask how I was doing, effectively holding space for me. It was in this mutuality that my nervous system began to regulate, calm, and settle. I felt connected in the midst of the storm. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Gestalt therapists, Erv and Miriam Polster*, that in these moments connection “can only happen between separate beings…I am no longer only me, but me and thee make we”. As I exhaled, I realized that the only way to attend to my self-care is to recognize that it cannot be done in isolation. Healing happens in community through shared experiences, a sense of belonging and solidarity. I am proud of our HERD Community for leaning in, embracing our Commitment of Belonging, and putting it into action. It’s only when we can acknowledge that we are all connected, and that what happens to one of us, happens to all of us, that we can begin to challenge, change, and create a more inclusive way of being in the world.

With this in mind, I am thrilled to announce that our 2024 HERD CAMP: Journey to Alignment is now open for registration for HERD students, graduates, and General Members. CAMP stands for Compassionate Attuned Mentored Practice. We’ll be digging deep on how to take our Commitment of Belonging into Action during our time together. Look out for information coming your way on how to sign up!

With a grateful heart,

Veronica
Executive Director