Reimagining the Shattered Dream

What, then, is the answer? We must accept our unwanted and unfortunate circumstance and yet cling to a radiant hope. -MLK
Naomi Stewart
April 11, 2021

The guiding question for InBreak Residency 2021 is this: What can a post-racialized society look like? My follow-up to this is what does racialized mean? How do I even begin to dream of a society that is post-racial? How do we dream collectively of this post-racial society? Is it possible? Does it begin with and require intimacy and healing? Who does this new society serve?

It is safe to say we recognize that this dream, as King addresses in the quote above, is all but shattered. We must recognize the fractured state of our society and of individuals, practicing humility and reflexivity above all things, rejecting a dispassionate status quo.

Throughout the residency process, I, Naomi, will be documenting and unveiling these deeply layered questions as the InBreak Residents and Curators confront them in our weekly gatherings.

Our Gatherings begin with a check-in, led by our Director of Liturgical Expressions, Brianna Kinsman. During that time, we center with a grounding tool or candle as she guides us through breathing and mindful meditation. This practice alone, being mindful of and quieting the body, mind, and spirit, initiates a humility that is necessary to enter challenging conversations surrounding racism. This time also includes the chance for us to share our highs and lows for that week, allowing us to build relationships with one another.

In our first gathering, we created a Cohort Contract by first differentiating Safe Space v Brave Space. This cohort is decidedly embracing a Brave Space centered on active dialogue and  forgiveness; one that is free of condemnation while also engaging with discomfort, and that calls for accountability. All of these practices encourage growth that in turn amplifies the silenced and actively shapes the collective dream.

The collective dream, or dreaming as a whole, for the shattered soul, for the shattered society--where does it begin? In The Christian Imagination by Willie Jennings, he recognizes that the shattered dream is a perversion of the original trajectory of intimacy. Though he speaks within the Christian historical context, I believe this can be widely applicable. In reference to intimacy, he states these have been “imagined by Western, white, male identities, but at another level these are ways of being in the world that resist the realities of submission, desire, and transformation”. [3] He goes on to say that, “the intimacy that marks Christian history is a painful one, one in which the joining often meant oppression, violence, and death, if not of bodies then most certainly of ways of life, forms of language, and visions of the world”. [3] The interactions of Black, Brown, and indigenous persons with Whiteness has historically and systemically been a transaction of personhood for acceptance into this perverse “intimacy”.

In our second gathering, we discussed this transaction within the context of land ownership, exploitation, and displacement of indigenous populations. In Jennings lecture, "Dreaming the End of Racial America", he discusses how race is a matter of geography encompassing indigenous histories, and how these have created structural woundings that exist in land and culture. The colonial/settler mindset contributed to the displacement of indigenous persons making way for land exploitation and, in the U.S. context, the exploitation of Black and Brown bodies for capital gain.

To begin healing, we must understand how these convoluted and disturbed histories have impacted our society and shaped our biases. We must partake in this confrontation and disillusionment. I am looking forward to the weeks ahead and invite you on this journey, as we continue to deconstruct and reimagine this shattered dream.