Supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Communities in Schools through Radical Healing
Tiffany Beason, PhD
Director of Cultural Responsiveness and Equity
Despite the impact of social injustices, trauma, and adversity, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have inherent strengths and assets that support their thriving and success. BIPOC students benefit from schools where educators support them with cultivating Radical Healing practices, or strategies, cultural norms, and ways of being that people from marginalized communities have historically used to thrive. These practices are indeed radical, because they represent a deliberate deviation, in belief and action, from historical and structural forces that undermine the humanity of BIPOC people and a persistent striving for liberation and thriving despite these forces.
To foster safe supportive schools, educators and school mental health clinicians are encouraged to engage in critical self- and group-reflection about radical healing in schools and what it looks like to foster these practices to support the mental health and well-being of BIPOC, newcomer, and LBGTQ+ youth.
In “Being Anti-Racist is Central to Trauma-Informed Care: Principles of an Anti-Racist, Trauma-Informed Organization,” the National Child Traumatic Stress Network described six Radical Healing practices: Collectivism; Critical Consciousness; Cultural Authenticity and Self-Knowledge; Radical Hope; Restorative Self-Care; and Strength & Resistance.
Below, these six Radical Healing practices are described along with some questions for reflection by educators and school mental health clinicians as they strive to cultivate Radical Healing practices in schools.
1. Collectivism involves connecting one’s personal liberation to that of other communities. Collectivism can look like engaging in collective care or connection to community to serve individual and collective well-being as well as being in solidarity with other marginalized communities. How can we make space in schools for students to lean into collectivism and solidarity?
2. Critical Consciousness describes a process of engaging in critical reflection and action to promote equity for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, newcomer and all other communities impacted by inequities. What social and emotional learning skills could be leveraged to support critical consciousness?
3. Cultural Authenticity & Self-Knowledge involves resisting colonized knowledge and practices as the only way of knowing and being, honoring ancestral wisdom and promoting group pride. This looks like honoring one’s ethnic or cultural heritage. For newcomers, this may look like continuing to lean into the values and customs of one's home country even as one settles into the U.S. What could we do to help youth lean into their cultural values, norms, and ways of being to foster cultural authenticity and enhance self-knowledge in classrooms and therapeutic processes?
4. Radical Hope is defined by a sense of agency to change things for the greater good, believing that fighting for justice is a necessary path to liberation. For some people, radical hope is connected to faith or taking action to pursue one’s goals despite structural challenges and barriers. How can we learn from students and families about what radical hope means for them?
5. Restorative Self-Care involves engaging in wellness practices that benefit the individual and the community, including resting, playing, incorporating spiritual, ancestral or Indigenous healing practices. How can we make space in classrooms and therapeutic interventions to help students learn, practice, and share about the different ways people engage in restorative self-care?
6. Strength & Resistance to injustice involves calling on the radical tradition of one’s ancestors who have survived centuries of historical traumas, to resist injustice and seek liberation. Who are some historical figures that demonstrated strength and resistance that we might teach about in schools?
1. French, B. H., Lewis, J. A., Mosley, D. V., Adames, H. Y., Chavez-Dueñas, N. Y., Chen, G. A., & Neville, H. A. (2020). Toward a Psychological Framework of Radical Healing in Communities of Color. The Counseling Psychologist, 48(1), 14–46. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000019843506
2. Powell, W., Agosti, J., Bethel, T.H., Chase, S., Clarke, M., Jones, L.F., Lau Johnson, W.F., Noroña, C.R., Stolbach, B.C., & Thompson, E. (2022). Being anti-racist is central to trauma-informed care: Principles of an anti-racist, trauma-informed organization. Los Angeles, CA & Durham, NC: National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.