“To a certain degree our entire future may depend on learning to listen. Listen without assumptions or defenses”

adrienne maree brown

Throughout our journey in becoming everyday activists, it is essential to practice meaningful listening. Engaging in conversations about our shared history, while sometimes difficult or painful, often leads to a sense of understanding and unity between people across their differences. At Sankofa Impact, we have observed and believe in the power of listening to understand those with different viewpoints and lived experiences.

Listening to understand rather than to respond is a skill that takes time to refine. It is a practice. A discipline. Meaningful listening is also the M in our HAMER Values, which guide Sankofa Impact in our programming. In hard conversations, we suggest centering the other’s point of view, rather than our own. Empathy and proximity can be both uncomfortable and transformative. Engaging authentically in conversations to understand different perspectives is key to listening meaningfully.

Collaboration and understanding are far more attainable when we create spaces in which we are free to listen to each other. These spaces can be judgment-free zones that encourage someone to think critically, ask respectful questions, and have thoughtful conversations. As everyday activists, it is important to create these spaces for ourselves and those around us in order to move closer to collective liberation.