Nuggets From Aqeela Sherrills's Call
Posted by Janessa Wilder on Feb 21, 2021
Growing up the youngest of 10 siblings in a Los Angeles housing project as a member of the famed Crips gang, Aqeela Sherrills lived the country’s most violent urban street gang war. By 1992, he had helped broker a historic peace agreement between the rival Bloods and Crips. He is now a leading campaigner against gang violence and the death penalty, as an expert on victim service and community-based public safety. A spirit-centered organizer, he promotes transformational change at both individual and community levels, coming from a place of love, healing, and reverence. Tragically, in 2004 his own 18-year-old son in college died to gun violence. In response, Aqeela visited sacred sites around the world, initiating a new phase of work and activism. He launched The Reverence Project to introduce those who suffer from high levels of trauma in urban war zones to alternative healing technologies and to support healing journeys.
Many of you asked for this information: to support Aqeela's work in community-based public safety, visit the Newark Community Street Team or The Reverence Project. And you might enjoy this piece Aqeela did with CBS last week that highlights his program's continued success in Newark.
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me.
- "Where the wounds are, the gift lies. When you go deep into your own wounds, you give permission to others to do the same. My history of being abused—I had to metamorphize my own story. We have to discover the wound so we can restore healing."
- "30,000 people died during the gang wars of LA. I asked at a community meeting, "Who was winning the war we're waging in the neighborhood?" Everyone got quiet. It erupted some conflict but also created space for deeper conversation."
- I do not believe that people are their worst experiences. They only inform what they become; they do not define who they are.
- Spirit spoke to me and gave me the word “reverence.” I thought it was an organization I was supposed to start, but no, it was something I was supposed to be.
- We are at an inflection point in this country. George Floyd’s execution woke people up. To me, Mama is like God. Hearing George Floyd call out for his mother broke something in me. When Jesus died, the etheric energy in his body was released and it created an earthquake. There was a similar fissure after George Floyd--25 million people were roused to their feet around the world. Every protest has been about brutality.
- When you say public safety, people say police. You can’t have public safety without the public. Black folks have never felt safe in this country. We’ve had to deal with domestic terrorism our whole life. Community-based safety has results that far exceed police efforts alone without collateral damage. We need to expand our frame of reference to include complementary strategies.