You Belong: A Call for Connection (Sebene Selassie) for BIPOC

Date(s) - Apr 5, 2022 - May 24, 2022
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Virtual Event Link
Register for the Book Circle on Eventbrite



The Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) presents a series of antiracism book circles as an act of radical education and collaboration. Our hope is to provide a unique opportunity to process the impact of the renewed call for gender and racial equity in our society. Our goal is to create a space in which participants may collectively and individually gain understanding that will result in healing, inclusion and empowerment. More importantly, they provide a way to maintain energetic human connections through virtual meeting spaces. Past circles have included participants from around the world to create transformative and educational learning containers.

Schedule and Logistics

Our circle meets weekly on Zoom for 8-10 weeks beginning on April 5, 2022. Weekly meetings last 2 hours. This book circle will meet on Tuesdays from 5-7pm PT.

This program is offered to our community on donation basis, funds go to support the work of RCNV, to cover the costs of administration and co-facilitators training. Any amount is highly appreciated, traditionally we suggest $25 per person, or more for those wishing to grant space to others, but any donation amount is accepted and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

After you register and as our circle start date nears, your co-facilitators will reach out with more details. We look forward to having this journey together.

About the Group

Co-facilitators, Nikki and Melissa were, in part, attracted to this book due to their own mixed-race identities and the issues or questions of belonging that come up for mixed individuals. Both facilitators have found greater understanding of their own belonging in the world, as well as meaningful movement toward liberation through meditation and embodied practices.

Their hope, with book circle members participation, is to create a community that cultivates space for the practice of self (re)discovery and (re)connection to belonging–to ourselves and each other–to the whole of our species–and to the natural world and beyond.

Nikki and Melissa acknowledge that BIPOC experiences are multifaceted and that the sharing of our distinct and nuanced stories of racism, colonization and white supremacy may cause tension and pain. As a liberatory practice, we seek to work through any messiness which may arise so that we may be, create and nurture communities of solidarity. We seek to foster a dynamic and resilient space capable of holding the group members who have experienced relatively greater harm, while not minimizing the experiences of other group members; and not recreating the hierarchies of white supremacy. Ultimately, we believe that healing and liberation can be found through community.

About this book

From the back of the paperback edition: “A spiritual call to action from much-admired meditation expert Sebene Selassie, You Belong explores our tangled relationship with belonging, connection, and each other. Using ancient philosophy, multidisciplinary research, exquisite storytelling, and razor-sharp wit, Selassie leads us in an exploration of all the ways we separate (and thus suffer) and offers a map back to belonging.”

An excerpt from You Belong (page 169): “We are remembering. Remembering what we’ve forgotten, what’s been covered over by complexity. By comparison and competition. By domination and oppression. It’s true: we’ve never not belonged. But, as we’ve seen through our work thus far, most of us have believed the lie of separation since childhood. Unbelieving it takes some undoing. All the ways we become ungrounded, all the ways we forget who we are, all the ways we stop loving ourselves in every moment… those are the ways we have disconnected from our inherent interconnection.”

Who could join

This circle is open to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and mixed-identified people, irrespective of presentation or proximity, who are on or wish to begin a healing journey and to explore liberation and decoloniality; this latter term referring to “… a process of recognizing the colonial wounds that are historically true and still open in the everyday experience of most people on the planet…”(Claudio Carvalhaes).

In the spirit of setting appropriate expectations, Nikki and Melissa share here that they are mixed-race individuals, with lighter-complexion privilege, and their experiences do not represent the full scale of BIPOC experiences. As co-facilitators they see their role as to generate a welcoming space for all; and to create a group culture which acknowledges differences in our experiences, positionalities, and privileges in support of the healing of all group members.

Every BIPOC person who feels called to do this work is welcome.

Your Circle Facilitators

Nikki Byrd (whole humxn/she/they/earth) lives in a neurodivergent, non-binary, Mixed Black (African/European) body. Born and raised on Sewanhacky (settler-colonially named Long Island, New York) on the traditional and unceded territories of the Matinecock, Setalcott, and Corchaug, Nikki has been located in Italy for the last two decades. As imaginator and facilitator of the Work of the Curves, a sense+space making system for next-world-building around wholeness+humxnity, Nikki seeks to create and hold spaces for diverse bodies to practice being whole+humxn in affinity and collectivity, beyond-liberation, and now.

Melissa Topacio Long (she/they/siya) is a mixed race and U.S.-born Pinay, who is working/playing to get more rooted in her heritage. She is living on Coastal Salish and Lummi land (in so-called Washington State). She is grateful for 9 years in Morocco and the strangers and friends who offered her lessons on being humxn within collective culture. She organizes virtual exchange between U.S. and Moroccan students—and in a pre-pandemic world, developed immersive educational programs for U.S. school groups in Morocco. Melissa is learning to move from observing how culture functions to step up and into shaping cultures.

RCNV Note on Affinity & Mixed Race Groups

The Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) mission is to highlight social injustice and to offer education on alternative/nonviolent action into healing racism and systemic violence. RCNV, through the book circles program, offers a safe container to go deep into the self and community transformative work.

At the RCNV, we also acknowledge the need to dismantle white supremacy through creating space for affinity groups in our book circles to go deeper. People of color need the space to show up freely in our community to express their emotions away from the conditioned white spaces. At the same time, white people are in need to do their work of dismantling white supremacy in their own skin by being vulnerable with those who relate to their experience. We are aware that people from all cultures have similar human emotions but humans are also different in how they experience life, given to them through the racial, religious, ethnic and cultural lens.

Due to the sensitive racial nature of the books offered, the RCNV’s racial equity policy offers separate affinity groups to respect the process of participants and to provide more safety and depth in the circle. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Book circles are co-facilitated by facilitators of all races; and affinity groups are facilitated by facilitators who identify within that affinity group. Mixed race individuals are welcome to join affinity groups matching their self-identification. Our co-facilitators will do their best to support every participant in their process. Our book circles provide spaces to practice mutual respect, collaboration, and the creation of an inclusive community..

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