As Generaciones en Acción moves forward with intergenerational work we also need to include the connection with our ancestors to manifest healing, gratitude, and resiliency. Our next seminar will be on Saturday, April 21st from 8:30am-4:00pm. It will be our fifth seminar centering the work on building an intergenerational community. One of the workshops at the seminar focuses on self-care rituals and validating our culture and selves. We realized how we couldn’t focus on validating ourselves if we do not have a clear conversation about the people who came before us, our ancestors. During the workshop participants share about creating altars with pictures of their loved ones to remember them. Altars are a tradition all over the world and have been used during ceremony in indigenous communities. Nowadays, these traditions are being lost due to an era of neo-colonization and cultural appropriation of indigenous traditions. We do mention to respect traditional practices and to listen and learn first from native relatives. “Ancestors are those who have influenced us, assisted us as teachers, as role models, who have crossed over, but who are continuing to be there in our mind” (bluedeer.org).
As we unveil what is intergenerational work we ask ourselves: 1. How do we normalize a culture of ancestral knowledge? 2. Why are we disconnected from our ancestors? 3. Would emerging in ancestral knowledge be a solution to intergenerational trauma? Many of us carry intergenerational trauma due to experiencing forced displacement, systemic violence, and unknown historical background about our families. Due to experienced hardships and atrocities in our motherlands many of our family members choose not to share their own stories of survival and resilience or might not even be aware of their own family background. Therefore, new generations grow up with a sense of a lost identity and without knowledge of ancestral connection. It is not to blame migrants since there are political forces at hand that have contributed through social policies to enslave and separate families. Such are conditions at immigrant detention centers, which criminalize and alienate individuals from their loved ones and society. As Leisy Abrego (2014) states, “As free trade agreements expand and nation-states open doors widely for products and profits while closing them tightly for refugees and migrants, these transnational families are not only becoming more common, but they are living through lengthier separations.”
We see an emergence in ancestral connection even in Hollywood films like “Coco” sensationalizing day of the dead but making it clear how relevant it is to have a physical, emotional, or spiritual connection with our ancestors. With Generaciones en Acción we do not follow the linear or normalized definition of a “family” since many of us grew up with an extended or communal family and feel better to interact with friends as family. Therefore, we share that an ancestor can be a mentor, a fictional character from a book, or a social leader we admire that might not be in this physical world anymore but takes part in our conversations like Audre Lorde and Berta Caceres are to me. It is people who help you move forward in life by just thinking about them and what they represent. My grandmother Amanda Macal has personal rituals in honoring especially her own grandmother. Since I was little she would share stories about her dear grandmother Carmelina. She always remembers the positive attributes in her and what she learned from her. My grandmother is passing that on to us, to tell stories, to remember our loved ones and affirm who we are. I am sure many grandmothers do that and the beauty of it all is how the new generations listen and appreciate it, even if it’s not said enough, we do appreciate it.