Digital Contemplative Community in Pandemic Times
In this collage, I reflect on my Radical Dharma community gatherings and examine how they are helping me to (re)imagine community and connection during pandemic times. Using the theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory (CRT) (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001) and Dis/ability Critical Race Studies (DisCrit) (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013), I explore through my artwork the following questions: How is COVID-19 changing the way I, as a disabled Latina mother-scholar, relate to others in person and over digital space? Is physical distancing creating more social isolation and separation? Or is it paradoxically making me more attune to the pain, needs, and wants of my fellow beings on this planet? How does this ultimately impact my scholarship? Through the use of meditation, journaling, and reflecting on our virtual meetings, I tried to express within the collage our coming to terms with change and grief within the context of the pandemic and the current Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests on police brutality. I argue that we are in the midst of creating a virtual fugitive space (Stovall, 2015), where we can (re)imagine what community can look like post-pandemic through embodied contemplative practice and collective care (Piepzna-Samarasinha, 2018). We are using computer-mediated technology (e.g., Zoom, Slack, Teamwork Projects) to not only work on community mending (Ortiz, 2018) for communities of color, but also their (and our) liberation.
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