The History: Healing Justice Movement

H.O.L.L.A! Healing Justice Movement LogoH.O.L.L.A!’s Healing Justice Movement: is an intersectional youth-led movement for youth of color and our neighborhoods. The goal of this movement is to (re)build community structure through self and community healing facilitated through intergenerational community organizing. Our vision cannot be a reality if we do not have the love and support of our families, friends, peers and community members (regardless of sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, gender, religion, class, social label). This fight for liberation is an extension of past and present movements and commitments (domestically and internationally) to fight against all forms of oppression. We valued the knowledge that created strength within us to organize against systemic, institutional, and historical roots causes of trauma. As we use strategies to facilitate forms of resistance, we will simultaneously practice Healing Justice. For our movement, healing is a two-way street—inwardly focused on recuperating from wounds inflicted by interlocking systems of oppression (i.e., internalized oppression and community violence) and outwardly focused on dismantling the functionality of institutions, laws, policies, practices and ideas that maintain and perpetuate harm and violence in our everyday experiences. When we practice building trust and relationships amongst ourselves that is the key to transforming the colonized internalized mindset we have of each other. Caring relationships provide us with the base and fuel to fight and protect each other. We believe healing transpires when our communities are deeply engaged in dialogue about cultural history, how power functions in our community. Healing happens when our communities are committed to building trust building, and when individual and community accountability is predicted on protecting the people and the future of our existence. Healing Justice happens, when we come together! Come Heal with us!

H.O.L.L.A!’s Healing Justice Movement is an intentional praxis of protecting and reproducing grassroots/hood/indigenous survival, leadership and collective liberation and healing.

Our Healing Justice Movement Stands on these foundations:

1) Grassroots Analysis of Structural and Historical Violence

2) Non-Traditional Approach to Human/Youth/Social Development

3) Healing-Centered Youth Organizing Curriculum/Training/Process

4) Healing and Skilling Up Our Healing Justice Organizers to Facilitate Healing Justice Praxis, Movement Building and Organizing

5)  Youth-Led Political Platform to Engage in the Praxis of Human Development and Collective Liberation

  • Foundation-One: Grassroots Analysis

The Green Haven Think Tank’s Non-Traditional Approach for social and criminal Justice weaves together local community knowledge (i.e., knowledge of the oppressed), grassroots scholarship, critical consciousness, practices of wellness and a praxis of resistance. Grassroots Leadership in this context means standing on the vast articulation of ideas and experiences informed by incarcerated (her)histories; a humanistic praxis that promotes individual healing and collective transformation; and a framework of seeing the world led by those most directly attacked and harmed by structural violence/the prison industrial complex. In the 1979-1980 report (NTA) the Green Haven Think Tank outlined an analysis they termed crime as a generative factor. Crime framed as a generative factors offers a  an analysis of how structural and historical violence operates through governmental violence, and through the development of anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and anti-Immigrant policies, norms, ideas and institutions, that harms the human development of marginalized communities of color, and produces so called ‘criminality.’

  • Foundation-Two: Non Traditional Approach to Human/Youth Development

The Green Haven Think Tank’s grassroots analysis challenges traditional notions of expertise and points to the historical and grassroots community conditions of poverty in which youth (of color) development continues to be ontologically and socially produced, shaped, and developed. The Green Haven Think Tank’s analyses rejects punishment and/or pathology as the sole or most legitimate strategy for addressing the traumatic needs of individuals and communities impacted by crime generating factors. The Green Haven Think Tank offers a Non-Traditional Approach to combat criminal and social justice. The Green Haven Think Tank’s approach uplifts the ways structural violence facilitates individual and community pathology and development, in turn fueling the prison industrial complex. The Green Haven Think Tank’s framework for human development asserts that healing and transformation (or more clinically called rehabilitation) is not only necessarily for the individual(s) but also for the structures within communities and society. With this analysis in place we created our Youth Development Programing.

  • Foundation 3: Youth Development Praxis

H.O.L.L.A!’s youth leadership development praxis stands on the grassroots scholarship, programmatic approaches and analysis of incarcerated people of color. H.O.L.L.A!’s Healing Justice Movement evolved from the Human Justice philosophy and community organizing of the Center for NuLeadership On Urban Solutions (CNUS). Human Justice is an updated and expanded analysis of the Green Haven Think Tank’s Non Traditional Approach to Social and Criminal. The concept of Human Justice, coined by CNUS in 2012, is an outcomes-driven social change framework to guide and redirect human and financial resources away from punishment-oriented systems and a pedagogical praxis toward more grassroots, effective, humane, equitable and sustainable solutions. The Human Justice framework is created by integrating the fundamental principles of international human rights which recognize the inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all people, with the concrete systematic vehicles that actualize human development. The second wave of inspiration for H.O.L.L.A!’s Healing and Justice Movement is the west coast Healing Justice Movement lead by Urban Peace Movement, Dr. Shawn Ginwright, CURYJ, ROYJ, and other grassroots organizations/organizers in the California Bay Area. Dr. Shawn Ginwright’s youth development theorizing of Radical Healing is another set of values that inform our youth development process. Ginwright cites that, “Radical Healing points to the process of building hope, optimism, and vision to create justice in the midst of oppression” (p. 85), while fully cognizant that “trauma harms individuals, communities [and society], [and] therefore, [healing] requires a process that restores individuals, communities [and institutional structures] to a state of well-being.” In practice, this model asserts that healing from oppression is, in fact, an act of political resistance and has the potential to yield and sustain a grassroots leadership of individuals and communities.

Responding to the ways structural and historical violence harm marginalized youth of color, H.O.L.L.A! leans on over 40 years of grassroots scholarship from prison abolitionists, community organizing and our creativity to build a political space and curriculum that can facilitate a process of healing and human development for marginalized youth of color. This youth development program aligns with a Healing-Centered Approach to Youth Organizing– which consist of grassroots youth leadership training that merges with cultural and spiritual practices of well-being, grassroots analysis of structural violence and organized resistance into the program’s learning and social service for youth participants. Similar to the Urban Peace Movement, H.O.L.L.A! understands Healing as a regenerative process that is inclusive of the mind, body, and spirit that aims to restore and renew individual and collective emotional and spiritual well-being of youth participants and their families.

H.O.L.L.A!’s youth development framework sits within an ecological context of urban poverty, historical trauma and everyday struggles of the most marginalized youth of color. H.O.L..A!’s youth development praxis understands structural violence (i.e., crime generating factors) as root causes of trauma and influential political forces that shape human/youth development. From our perspective the leadership, transformation and healing process, is intentional, filled with pedagogical experiences to facilitate a process of sociopolitical development mediated by critical reflection and political action aimed at addressing threats to grassroots leadership, human development, socio-emotional, psychological development, long-term community sustainability and grassroots movement praxis.

H.O.L.L.A! positions Human Justice as the theoretical foundation and building block for considering best approaches to providing an atmosphere for positive youth development for youth from the most marginalized communities of color. With Human Justice as a foundation, H.O.L.L.A! has created and launch our Youth Leadership, Transformation and Healing Process that merges sociopolitical development within a live context of grassroots organizing and practices of well-being.

H.O.L.L.A! Believes Youth Development is about making Assata Shakur’s affirmation a reality: It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains!

Youth development is about deepening our (H.O.L.L.A!) commitments to each other, working together, throwing ourselves into resisting systems of oppression, organizing and taking care of each other. This is about long term grassroots sustainability, power, love and community building and healing. We have developed our own Healing-Centered Youth Organizing Curriculum.

How Our Lives Link Altogether! developed the Youth Leadership, Transformation and Healing Process in order to create pathways and spaces for healthy cultural and political development for youth of color. This is to ensure and re-produce long-term grassroots leadership and movement praxis. A second aim is to provide every day opportunities for young leaders to be able to heal from the generational hurt with alongside their families and communities. Third, H.O.L.L.A! asserts that healing, relationship building and sociopolitical development requires an intentional process, within an intentional context, that encompasses many moments and episodes, encounters, reflections, experiences and actions as a collective process of transformation. H.O.L.L.A! currently has three programs within our Youth Leadership, Healing and Transformation Process to support youth most impacted by structural

The curricula for the Youth Leadership, Transformation, and Healing Process is designed to take youth from marginalized communities of color through a relationship and skill building process that is deeply connected to culture, spirituality and resisting structural violence as individuals and collective agents. The process is meant to have an accumulative effect on the youth as they engage in our activities, trainings, experiences and rituals over the course of 18-months.

H.O.L.L.A!’s Youth Leadership, Transformation and Healing Process

  1. The Ritual Programs
  2. The Nat Turner Revolutionary Leadership Training (NTRLT)
  3. The Youth Organizing Collective Training (YOC)

The Ritual Program is our base building and knowledge sharing platform. H.O.L.L.A!’s Healing Justice Organizer and Street Organizers are trained as cultural communicators and relationship builders. These Organizers conduct street outreach canvassing in local marginalized communities of color to engage youth of color throughout the city who are not connected to H.O.L.L.A! programs and services. The Ritual Program is a platform to build relationships with youth and their families. We do this by hosting youth-led community events, functions, performing local community canvassing, and attending local community gatherings to meet young people where they are at.


The Nat Turner Revolutionary Leadership Training (NTRLT) is the first phase of H.O.L.L.A!’s Youth Leadership, Transformation and Healing Process. The Nat Turner Revolutionary Leadership Training is a six-month relationship-building, political education, skill-building, resource- connecting and organizing training for youth 13-25 years old, emphasizing an engagement with those who have been pushed out of or unengaged by mainstream institutions. NTRLT’s objectives are to develop youth of color leadership by building capacity for critical social analysis through political education and socio-emotional development. NTRLT supplements analysis with concrete skill-building through group facilitation, public speaking, community outreach, event planning, campaign development, conflict de-escalation and mediation, creative and formal writing, community engagement and conducting participatory action research. This is done within the context of intentional relationship building as a praxis of decolonization, and ethos of radical healing. The program’s priorities also include compensating young people for their time, energy, and analyses. NTRLT has four interrelated components: 1) Youth Street Outreach; 2) Programming and Training; 3) Resource (Re)Connecting; and 4) Post-Program Support/Transition.


The Youth Organizing Collective (YOC) is an experience within the second phase of the Youth Leadership, Transformation and Healing Process. The Youth Organizing Collective consist of young people ages 13-25 who come from diverse backgrounds, with deep histories of love, trauma and hope. The Youth Organizing Collective is open to young leaders who have completed the first phase (The Nat Turner Revolutionary Leadership Training ) of the Youth Leadership, Transformation and Healing Process. The Youth Organizing Collective is a life-time commitment. The first 12 months of YOC functions as an applied Youth Organizer position where participants earn $1000 per month as they engage and develop as healers and leaders. Youth Organizers in YOC build community and create safer spaces for each other, their families and communities through the praxis of Human Justice, political education and community organizing. The Youth Organizing Collective goals are to encourage relationships, skill-building, and political and collective agency in young people to assist youth organizers in their process of a healing centered transformation and development.

  • Foundation 4: The Cultivation of Healing and Leadership in an Applied Context

We are the Youth Organizing Collective (YOC), the movement arm of How Our Lives Link Altogether (H.O.L.L.A). We are young, old, healers, artists, formerly incarcerated, children of incarcerated parents, lawyers, PhDs, students, school push-outs, organizers, Black, Muslim, transsexual, bi-sexual, heterosexual, of all genders, Korean, experienced organizers, new to organizing, Caribbean. We are parents, children, friends and community peers of people impacted by systemic injustice. We are concerned individuals and community that ultimately seek to increase healing and justice.

We admire greatly the movement work accomplished by the Black Panthers, the Young Lords and the Zapatistas. We see our Healing Justice Movement as a continuation of the Green Haven Think Tank, specifically their spokesperson Eddie Ellis. Through the Seven Neighborhood Study, Green Haven Think Tank posited that 75% of the total state prison population are from predominantly Black and Latino communities in NYC: Harlem, South Jamaica, Bedford Stuyvesant, South Bronx, East New York, Crown Heights, and Brownsville. The Green Haven Think Tank affirmed that there are no prison problems, only community problems. We vehemently believe this community disinvestment in our communities is real. Similarly, to how CNUS works to achieve Human Justice transformation at three levels through their CSI methodology: Community Empowerment, System Realignment/Accountability and Individual Transformation. We seek to promote a City Wide Healing Justice Movement to
inoculate our communities against systemic oppression so that healing happens at
the individuals, community and societal levels simultaneously and integratively.

Us being young people of color from disinvested neighborhoods we understand how much pain our community’s have been through and continues to go through by these systems of oppression. This Movement isn’t only for people who need to individually heal from oppression but to know we can’t heal alone, us building trust amongst ourselves is the first part of our healing but also making that a political activity. The Healing Justice Movement is personal because we are apart of that hurt community, while we build love with each-other we’re attempting acts of healing for our own personal transformation. With this youth led Movement we are showing our commitment to human dignity and equity.

Our organizing work is deeply about creating spaces and space that allows us to feel vulnerable enough to speak, share and discovery ones and others humanities. Caring relationships will provide us with the base and fuel to fight and protect each other. We are organizing as an effort to restore our communities and build hope through our Citywide Healing Justice Movement. We are young people of color. We intimately know the struggles of being in spaces were misery & disinvestments thrives. As Healing Justice Organizers, we choose to resist against these violent forces by building trust, spaces that encourage emotionally wisdom and the capacity to resist by healing our communities. We believe our city-wide intergenerational youth-led Healing Justice Movement will help young people throughout New York City to better sustain ourselves mentally, physically & spiritually. Once young people engage in healing, we can become even better equipped to organize against laws, policies, and institutions and interpersonal violence that cause harm in our lives. We want young people throughout New York City to be heal, whole, and empowered to make a difference.

The Youth Organizing Collective’s Citywide Healing Justice Movement is a strategy to (re)build community structure through self and community healing facilitated through intergenerational community organizing. We want to bring youth and our communities together to engage critically in power and privilege. This Movement will help to facilitate our journeys to power through relationship building, community organizing, political education, and providing resources. Our Healing Justice Movement is based on a clear understanding that injustice and oppression does not simply block opportunities, but causes psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical harm to individuals and communities(Ginwright). Furthermore, the grassroots leadership of youth of color from poor and working class urban communities are rarely seriously engaged or included in citywide development of policy, law, and institutions that have serious consequences for our lives and communities. We want our movement to remedy that. We are invested in creating vulnerable spaces for youth of color to heal, providing a platform to amplify marginalized youth of color voice and organize for strength based policies to help restore our communities. We envision this happening through a Four Phase process: Healing Justice Youth Assessment Survey, Healing Justice Workshops and Experiences, Written/Multimedia Reports and Report Backs, and Stakeholder Briefings with Youth of color, Schools, Policymakers, Community-Based Organizations Politicians, Street Corners Hustlers, Police, and Government Officials to Transform their Policy and Ideological Developments.

Many people are interested in changing our communities but so few will ask for young people’s suggestions. We want to facilitate this exchange and empower youth of color throughout New York City to organize. We know from our own personal experiences that in order to create a lasting and sustainable movement, healing is the first necessary step. Outside of our participation in H.O.L.L.A., we do not have an outlet to discuss our healing and trauma. Feeling safe enough to be vulnerable and share how we are processing how power and privilege affects our lives is both a critical and necessary part of analysis for creating any meaningful interventions. Consequently, we are fully committed to creating opportunities for youth to be able to heal and engage in deep critical self reflection. After this period of transformation, we know that we all will be even better suited to fully commit to organizing for liberation. We are stronger together, united and well. We will work together and beautifully to hold policy makers, government officials, schools, police, systems and ourselves accountable.