"I think that all of us, regardless of our racial or ethnic background, feel relieved that we no longer have to deal with the racism and the sexism associated with the system of slavery. But we treat the history of enslavement like we treat the genocidal colonization of indigenous people in North America, as if it was not that important, or worse, as if it never happened." —Angela Davis, "The Meaning of Freedom"
Please join us for the ongoing community discussion of A Better Normal, our ongoing series in which we envision the future as trauma-informed.
The July 4th Independence Day Holiday has been one of the United States' most celebrated holidays since 1777, honoring the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed by delegates from the 13 American colonies, declaring independence from the British Monarchy. Growing up in the US, the holiday meant fireworks, BBQs, parades, and time spent with family feeling American pride. But how many of us have taken the time to reflect on the meaning of "Independence"?
In light of the current protests around the deaths of Geoge Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Tayler, we are being called to question the meaning of "freedom". The consciousness, and conscience of Americans has been widely awakened at long last. We would like to invite you to a discussion that takes into account that America is not free for all and never was.
This A Better Normal will be a true discussion format. Donielle Prince and Alison Cebulla of ACEs Connection will introduce the topic and start a community discussion based on the following questions. Come prepared to share your answer to the following:
- Who is an American?
- What does it mean to be American?
- What are you having to unlearn about American identity and/or history?
- How do you feel to be American?
- Has celebrating Independence Day taken on any new meanings for you in light of recent racial injustice events?
Donielle Prince is the Community Facilitator for the San Francisco Bay Area here at ACEs Connection, supporting communities in accelerating their ACEs and Resilience focused initiatives. Her educational and professional background includes knowledge of human development; practice as a therapist; and research into the environments in which children best thrive, whether in their families, in their communities, or at school.
"As we were developing concepts for the A Better Normal series, Alison, myself and a few other staff began talking about the meaning of identity. For me, I've always taken for granted that my identity is black, first, and American, as a distant second. My black identity is a source of community, pride, empowerment, love, and joy. I am also conscious of the fact that these attributes of my identity are a critical buffer to the ways in which I occupy a second class status as an 'American'."
Alison Cebulla is the Community Facilitator for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and is the producer of the A Better Normal Series. Alison earned a Master of Public Health degree at Boston University in December 2019. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley, in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus in agricultural ecology. She went on to intern at ecological nonprofits in Belgium and the Netherlands to see what are the fuss about "evil socialism" was about.
"My maternal grandfather grew up on Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. I knew that he his alcoholism negatively impacted my family but it wasn't until I took an Environmental Policy class at UC Berkeley when I was 23 that looked at how policies affect the lives of marginalized populations in the US that I started to really understand how American policies were deliberately dehumanizing, racist, and created the situations that lead to rampant child abuse and substance misuse on reservations, and how that impacted my own story which has included substance misuse and mental illness. The 'America' in the history books is not the same 'America' that I have directly experienced through a legacy of generational trauma."