Principle Five: Cultural and Identity are Central ( Ginwright, 2016)

Cultural practices and values provide pathways for young people to make meaning, self-perception, and a sense of purpose. There is an expectation that urban youth bring both divergent and overlapping identities and cultures to the youthspace. These differences are recognized as a strength and a source of collective power and insight to be garnered in a youthspace. Consensus is not the goal; rather practices support youth in developing skills and dispositions to hold tensions and communicate across differences. Cultures and identities in a youthspace are continuously in the making through shared experiences, community, and contribute to a sense of belonging. A youthspace provides opportunities for young people to identify and articulate what is important to them. To revise and name the ideals guiding their actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Social relationships and being a part of a historical collective struggle for liberation and healing contributes to new ways of knowing and being. Through their participation, youths construct knowledge and skills that influence their changing views of themselves and each other in and of the world.

This example builds upon the growing evidence of the benefits of wellness practices for healing from trauma (Holzel et al., 2011; van der Kolk et al., 2014) and the emotional and psychological toil of engaging in social justice and activism (Bernal, 2006; Gorski, 2019). Healing is experienced collectively, being shaped by shared identities and lived experiences, such as age, race, gender identity, class, education, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Thus, wellness practices are intentional anti-oppressive strategies. Reflecting a cultural and place-based approach, Indigenous scholar Yellow Bird advocates for mindfulness as a process of neurodecolonization for healing from the traumas of colonization. He explained, “Neurodecolonization seeks an understanding of how mind and brain function are shaped by the stresses of colonialism and compromise the well-being of Indigenous Peoples” (https://www.indigenous- For non-Indigenous people, this requires an additional step of identifying their individual and the group’s cultural traditions to develop words and understandings of both colonization and decolonization. Waziyatawain & Yellow Bird (2012) explained that identifying the literal and figurative meanings of these terms facilitates a conscious awareness of the distinct and overlapping cultural views within and across the group, contributing to the construction of identity and a collective culture.

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