by Gabbie Price as inspired by the Community Healing Space and Positive Behavioral Intervention Support practice

Here at RBAC, we are striving to build a culture of being safe, respectful, and responsible in Rainier Beach. As part of that work, we spent two weeks in October in the field activating the healing space with Corner Greeters, Clean Crew, and a few other community groups at the parking lot of the Rainier Beach Safeway. A question was asked at a healing circle (a standard activity at these events), “What does it look like to be safe, respectful, and responsible at home?”

This sparked a line of questions because some felt that respect looked different in their homes than it did in other people’s homes. Safiyat who was involved in space activation for those few weeks asked the question to youth members in the community of Rainier Beach as well as some youth on the Corner Greeter team — an amazing conversation came from some responses. Malcolm, who is an African American man working with the Rainier Beach Clean Crew for RBAC, said that in his household a sign of respect was eye contact. “ In my household, it’s a sign of respect to look a person in the eyes when talking to them. It shows that you’re actively listening.” A youth who is also a person of color (POC) but practices the Muslim religion jumped in fast after hearing that comment with the response, “Really? In my household, it can be a sign of disrespect!” This got things juicy and very interesting! We know a lot of us come from different places on this earth so our views and values will always look different to someone else. Not all agreed or disagreed with the information each of us provided as to why or why not eye contact was respectful. All we could be doing during the conversation was learning from each other! Even if we didn’t all agree it’s nice to be informed and the conversation felt super safe: no judgment, no arguments. 

So maybe the next time you interact with someone who comes from a different culture or practices a different religion then you, “perspective” is a great word to think about during that interaction. Try to understand why that person may be thinking, feeling, or expressing themselves the way they do. Also remembering that not only culture and religion can play a part in someone’s opinion or response but also mental health.

New Year’s goal!