Our COMMITMENT TO REPARATIONS

The United States claims to be established on principles of equality — yet not all people are treated equally by or within U.S. society. Since its inception, the U.S. has been designed to privilege, prioritize and empower certain identities over others through the systems of white supremacy and racism, cis-heteropatriarchy, classism, ableism, and American exceptionalism (to name just a few) — scroll to the bottom to see a short glossary, in case any of these terms are new to you. All identities that deviate from the “societal norms” created primarily by white, land-owning men, are targets of personal and structural discrimination, resulting in individual pain and systemic inequity. 

As a Relational Education non-profit dedicated to the development of meaningful relationships between individuals, community, and the natural world, we know that we cannot do this work without engaging in education, dialogue and action that seeks to illuminate and dismantle these systems of oppression. At Weaving Earth, we approach this important work with an understanding that loving the land is accompanied by a responsibility to understand the history of the land and how that history shapes the present. In this country, the land was stolen from indigenous people, forcibly worked by enslaved Africans and their descendants, and further enriched by the exploited labor of waves of new immigrants — building an empire that upholds white supremacy nationally and globally.

Shifting into authentic relationship requires we address the collective wounds caused by these systems. As we educate for action to care for the planet, we must also educate for action to fundamentally change the social systems that shape our lives and the opportunities that accrue to some but not others.

We strive to uphold equity, which necessitates reckoning with the ways that systems of domination shape access to resources. Equity is different from equality. Equality assumes that treating everyone the same is enough because we are all starting from the same place and/or need (and want) the same things. Equity on the other hand acknowledges that we live in a stratified society that reproduces itself by design and that different people need (and want) different things to succeed.

Weaving Earth was founded by white, cis-heterosexual, able-bodied leaders. We take seriously our complicity in perpetuating systems of harm and are doing our best to meaningfully contribute to the deconstruction of white supremacy, cis-heteropatriarchy, and supremacy in all of its forms, both as individuals and as an organization. This requires dedication and sustained, daily work. It is also a central pillar of our Relational Education curriculum.

SHIFTING INTO AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES WE ADDRESS THE COLLECTIVE WOUNDS CAUSED BY THESE SYSTEMS.

To Deepen Our Practice of Justice...

Weaving Earth is committed to a practice of reparations and in 2017 established a Reparations Fund. Recognizing the intersecting barriers of colonialism and white supremacy, the Reparations Fund covers tuition for all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) participants in the WE Immersion. Any money BIPOC choose to pay would go to the Reparations Fund for future BIPOC participants. This is not a scholarship fund, and we do not assume that individual BIPOC applicants do not have access to wealth — these reparations are offered with a prayer for collective liberation.

No amount of reparations can undo the historic and present-day harm done on this continent and globally by supremacy culture. And while we know that the true spirit of reparations would take a culture-wide response, we nevertheless believe it is our responsibility to offer what we can as a small and imperfect step toward a more just, equitable and regenerative future for all.

This Reparations Fund meets critical needs by:

Modeling new economics — U.S. capitalism was built through slavery and white supremacy, on a foundation of attempted genocide of indigenous people. Given our collective inheritance and its relationship to displacement / disconnection, we do not want BIPOC participants to have to pay for the reclamation of connection to land/nature/place
Further funding BIPOC staff, which supports BIPOC participants and brings greater coherence between our staffing and our vision. Additionally, this allows us to pay BIPOC staff for the emotional labor of showing up in mostly white space, while simultaneously making the WE Immersion less white-dominated, -centered, and -identified (i.e. culturally prohibitive)
Redistributing psychic freedom / burden. Reparations aren’t just financial. White people need to take responsibility for white supremacy. Each session, white participants investigate white supremacy/fragility while BIPOC participants get equity nature time. BIPOC participants also have the option to receive ongoing 1-on-1 somatic coaching from tayla shanaye

AS WE EDUCATE FOR ACTION TO CARE FOR THE PLANET, WE MUST ALSO EDUCATE FOR ACTION TO FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE THE SOCIAL SYSTEMS THAT SHAPE OUR LIVES AND THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ACCRUE TO SOME BUT NOT OTHERS.

Supremacy culture in the United States targets many other groups through extractivism (oppression of the Earth), ableism, ageism, anti-immigration, anti-Semitism, cis-genderism, colonialism, fat-phobia, heterosexism, Islamophobia, nationalism, racism, religious persecution, and sexism. We acknowledge the myriad barriers that targets of these oppressive systems face in their daily lives, and we strive to offer financial support in acknowledgment of those barriers. At this moment in our organizational evolution, we ask all non-BIPOC to pay on a sliding scale as well. We are doing our best to use surplus tuition funds generated from this sliding scale to meet the needs of white participants who also navigate the world with targeted identities.

We recognize that money is just one of the many barriers that limit access to what is being offered at WE and we are committed to a broader cultural shift within our organization. We remain faithful to our learning journey, and walk with the prayer that the choices we’ve made to focus on the work of social justice in our curriculum, and at the heart center of WE, will call forth the community, the individuals, and the resources in all forms to help elevate the work to the level we see is needed. Thank you for being a part of that calling. May these efforts, and all of our daily choices, be collective steps on the road to liberation.

Your tax-deductible donation to our Reparations Fund makes all this possible. You can donate here, or mail us a check. Please inquire at info@weavingearth.org.

GLOSSARY

ableism — Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other. (from the Center for Disability Rights)

American exceptionalism — The idea that America’s political system, values, and history are unique, worthy of celebration, and free from criticism … the best that ever was. In addition to insulating our history and institutions from criticism, American exceptionalism presupposes that all other political systems, values, and histories are inadequate by comparison.

cis-heteropatriarchy — A compound term that encompasses interrelated injustices and oppressions: cis-genderism, patriarchy, and heterosexism. In brief, this system values, prioritizes and uplifts cis-gender people (cis-genderism), heterosexual thoughts and behavior (heterosexism), and cis-men over cis-women (patriarchy), to the exclusion of everyone else — which turns out to be most people.

cis-genderism — Encompasses prejudice, interpersonal discrimination, and structural discrimination against those who do not confrom to rigid, binary ideas about gender. Cisgender means that one’s gender identity matches their biological sex assigned at birth. Transgender means that one’s gender identify does not match their biological sex assigned at birth. There are many other types of gender expression, including genderfluid. Cis-genderism stigmatizes and marginalizes all expressions of gender that deviate from binary norms.

classism — Encompasses prejudice, interpersonal discrimination, and structural discrimination against those who come from working poor, working class, and other economically disenfranchised populations. In combination with the American myths about hard work, the American dream, and individual achievement, classism often manifests as a prejudice that people are poor because they are too lazy or unintelligent to succeed. The reality is that structural discrimination and economic inequity that is baked into the system are largely responsible.

extractivism — We use this term to refer to oppression of the earth itself. The word describes the process of removing raw resources from the earth — timber, ore, and otherwise — for the economic gain of distant interests, often in destructive fashion to the local community and ecology. Extractivism is typified by the clear-cutting of old growth forests, the Canadian tar sands, mountaintop removal mining, and other destructive industries. Extractivism goes beyond “natural” resources — it includes the extraction of labor and cultural expression, often without adequate or any compensation, from historically oppressed and disenfranchised communities. At its core, extractivism is a form of taking — by the powerful, for the powerful, without reciprocity or care for the social or ecological impacts of that action.

white supremacy — White supremacy is a system in which white people, white bodies, and white culture are seen as the norm and also as superior to any other people, bodies, and cultures. Sometimes, white supremacy manifests in violent, hateful ways — the KKK and the alt-right, for example. But white supremacy is much broader than that. It is a pervasive system that we are all participating in, even if we do not engage in overtly racist speech or action.

TESTIMONIAL FROM A REPARATIONS FUND RECIPIENT

Written by Kailea Frederick
01/15/2020

This past year I was on the receiving end of the Weaving Earth Reparations Fund. This was also the first time that I ever received Reparations and it was an experience that has provided healing in powerful ways.

To create context, my mother is African American, and my father First Nations. We descend from both Tahltan and Kaska Nation, two separate groups of Native peoples of what is known as British Columbia and the Southern part of the Yukon. I am in every sense of the acronym, a BIPOC: a Black, Indigenous Person of Color. None of this part of my identity has ever escaped me as I am a visibly brown woman who was raised by a visibly black woman. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, my family moved between the working class and low income, which means that I have had to receive scholarships my whole life. I am used to putting in a lot of effort for these scholarships, and then holding intense amounts of stress over myself in order to show up “perfectly.” I am used to internalizing aspects of my experience that might be challenging or difficult for me on an emotional level, always fearing that I will be kicked out or considered unworthy of continued support. The experience of being the “scholarship kid” has often been a source of anxiety and shame for me, of having to prove myself continuously.

The process of receiving an act of Reparations was the first time I entered into a different model of receiving, one where I was understood in the systemic why behind needing to receive. I remember that reading Weaving Earth’s document on Reparations brought tears to my eyes. I felt recognized and through this, less ashamed. The core of the need for Reparations was bigger than my own personal story, yet intricately linked to me and my family. It has been healing to feel that parts of my lineage are being repaid through my experience for the genocide, trauma and racist policies that created the inequity we have had to face and work at overcoming. All of this created a new sense in how I showed up to Weaving Earth. I felt that I was allowed to share when I was having a hard time, that I didn’t need to be performing in order to prove myself to the money. Ultimately it allowed me to show up as myself which has been the number one reason why I have been able to advocate for this program.

It goes without saying that I could have never participated in Weaving Earth without this fund in place. Until three years ago when I moved here, the cost of attending the program was more than what I budgeted just for my basic living needs for an entire year. The importance of this fund existing for others to participate through an act of Reparations was made clear throughout the year as well. For many of us, there were core elements of the teachings that were part of our own cultures that had been lost through colonization. In the greatest act of irony, participating in Weaving Earth was one of the main access points for us to begin the act of learning and reclaiming some of these lost practices that once belonged to our own ancestors.

I believe that if Weaving Earth wants to continue to live into the practice of Collective Liberation, that the Reparations Fund will need to continue to exist and grow in order to widen the number of participants who are owed Reparations. We are finally reaching a time where broader awareness and more honesty is being brought into conversations related to racism and equity. The act of providing Reparations is a vital and healing part of this conversation.

In loving gratitude,
Kailea Frederick