Black Lives Matter, Ending Police Brutality &
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Black Lives Matter. Matters. Narrative Therapy has “mattering” at its heart. It has always been about helping people re-story and restore their lives according to their own deeply held values, according to what matters to them. We’ve long sought to support people in finding ways to resist the individualizing, psychologizing, decontextualizing, and pathologizing descriptions of their struggles that much of the world—and much of our field—reproduce and reinforce.
But the time has come for us to acknowledge the insufficiency of our past efforts. At the heart of this shortfall is that White people often fail to grasp the painful reality that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) know that their very lives, their very bodies, let alone their stories, are treated as if they don’t matter. They don’t matter enough for healthcare to be as sufficiently available, and they don’t matter enough for their murderers to be held accountable. These are not stories, but facts that stand out in stark relief in the context of COVID and state-sanctioned murder.
While we can continue to be proud of creating and offering narrative practices that make these facts more visible, and proud that we help people re-story their lives in political and social context, and proud of the support community that we’ve created for doing our difficult work, we must do more. A popular lawn sign challenges us to do better: If you can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. We at Re-authoring Teaching rededicate ourselves to making this lawn sign feel true to the community we are and the communities we serve. This will require more seeking out and listening to the voices of BIPOC in our community, more programming that is focused on community work as well as clinical practice, and still more. Now is the time.
What can Narrative Therapy Contribute?
For more than 30 years narrative therapy has been exploring the social-cultural underpinnings of human suffering in contrast to the history of individualized and pathology-based practices, research, and theories in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy.
Narrative therapy’s social justice-based practices aim to deconstruct the marginalizing of oppressed identities by dominant power systems, within the culture, community and in therapeutic settings. This approach takes a de-pathologizing stance, inviting therapists to actively deconstruct their own “power over” and “expert knowledge”, placing client-identified hopes and goals at the center of our collaborative work.
We invite colleagues desiring to become effective allies to all those “under the boot” to reconsider any “neutral and abstinent” positions, implicit privileges, and assumptions of expertise, engaging relational practices that honor the unique challenges, strengths, and intentions of all who come to consult with us in the process.
This website and many others like it are dedicated to the continued development and dissemination of alternative knowledges that support practices of relational equality. We encourage your exploration of these ever-evolving ideas and welcome your engagement in any of our many global and community-based courses, workshops, faculty offerings and collaborative salons. We hope these ideas inspire you in service of your deepest calling for racial justice and social transformation.
We would like to acknowledge and build on actions already taken by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. In addition, we ask ourselves:
What anti-racist actions can we take today and everyday as we move forward?
Thank you for joining us here.
June 10, 2020
Linking with Other Narrative Initiatives
We are in this together, and together we will act. Thank you to The Narrative Therapy Initiative (Stephen Gaddis, Guadalupe Morelos, Amanda Sidman, and Greg Bodine) and The Evanston Family Therapy Center (Jill Freedman & Gene Combs) for taking leadership by sharing statements from your communities. We stand in solidarity inspired by your statements. In addition, we add a compilation of resources gathered collectively by members of Narrative Initiative San Diego, the L.A. Pomo Group and Reauthoring Teaching.