Envisioning “Loving Care” in Impermanent Healing Spaces: Sacred and Political Organizing Towards Decolonial Health/Care in Oakland, California
This paper explores a self-determined space of health and healing centering ancestral, traditional, and Indigenous medicine and spiritual practices. While ancestral, traditional, and Indigenous (ATI) medicine overlaps with what is conventionally recognized as “alternative” medicine, what sets ATI apart in this work is the political orientation of the Oakland-based Healing Clinic Collective (HCC) and its network of ATI practitioners. Their political orientation and motivation for community organizing begins from practicing and promoting ATI healing modalities to address the impact of interrelated generational experiences shaped by institutional legacies of colonization vis a vis racial capitalism, eurocentrism, and white supremacy. I use a transdisciplinary and decolonial framework to analyze the HCC’s “ceremonial organizing” model and show how the HCC clinic space offers expansive conceptions of what counts as health, healing, and care at the level of community health. I also show how the HCC is situated in a Bay Area radical community organizing continuum for community survival and self-determination.
A transdisciplinary decolonial framework allows me to think alongside two concepts, therapeutic landscapes and third space, to discuss what it means to organize and hold a healing clinic without replicating a “clinical” experience. Based on ethnographic research, this paper is guided by the following questions: How does the politicized space created by the HCC clinics interrogate and re-define what counts as health, healing, medicine, and health/care knowledge? How does this sacred-political healing landscape shape a different approach to and experience of community organizing and social movement as a practice of community health/care?