Bernadette Lim

Bernadette Lim

Freedom Community Clinic


Spring 2021

Bernadette Lim (she/her) is the Founder and Director of  Freedom Community Clinic and one of our Spring 2021 Impact Grant recipients. Learn more about her work and support.

Tell us – what excites you about your work?

Freedom Community Clinic is a grassroots, community-centered initiative focused on bringing whole-person healing that integrates the strengths of ancestral, holistic, traditional, and Indigenous healing with the strengths of Western medicine. In all of our healing offerings, we prioritize the healing of Black, Indigenous, Brown, and undocumented communities in Oakland. In less than a year and a half since our beginning in July 2019, we have served 2,500+ people and have held 60+ community healing clinics, workshops, and programs in the Bay Area and beyond.

What excites us most about our work is imagining and working towards a new Healing Future every day. We absolutely love when we are people's first time feeling a sigh of relief, release, and liberation from pain, anxiety, or suffering after trying out acupuncture, receiving bodywork, or getting their blood pressure checked for the first time. We love when communities are equipped with knowledge and tools to create a healthier, healed future for themselves and their loved ones through our community healing trainings and community groups. We work towards a future where each person affirms that rest and community healing are part of protest and revolution. Ultimately, we vision and work towards a world where each person is cared for, affirmed and loved.

What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?

We're at such a huge period of growth! We feel super encouraged and inspired by the trust, relationships, and partnerships we have built with our community over the past year and a half. Currently, we provide multiple regular offerings to our community throughout the week including but not limited to (1) weekly pop-up community healing clinics in West and East Oakland, (2) community healing groups, (3) community healing training on life-saving skills, (4) holistic healing workshops, and (5) individual referrals for healing services.

We have established 20+ community partnerships with grassroots organizations. And true to our mission of combining the strengths of holistic healing with Western medicine, we have over 100+ healing practitioners in our network include but are not limited to: primary care practitioners in Western medicine, herbalists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists, spiritual counselors, social workers, talk therapists, somatic bodyworkers, and Indigenous healers (Reiki, limpia, womb wellness, etc.).

We prioritize the presence and involvement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color healing practitioners during our community healing clinic events to intentionally provide our communities with a safe, non-judgmental space to rest, heal, and be in community with each other.

Who do you dedicate your work to?

I am rooted in the strength of my loved ones, ancestors, and generations before me who have fought for the freedoms I live and breathe every day. I also take a good amount of time to heal, rest, and care for myself as a revolutionary act in the midst of capitalist systems that seek to only see my value through the lens of labor and non-stop grind.

I know my ancestors and loved ones dream of me resting, laughing, playing, and creating, so I do my best to embody and listen to that even when it feels uncomfortable! As I take care of myself, I clearly realize that our future must be one that is rooted in joy and community, so I do my best to embody that as much as I can.

“When I know what justice feels like for me in my body and in my life, then I will be able to better help others establish that in their own lives.”

Who inspires you, who are you learning from, what books are you reading?

I get my daily inspiration from Mother Earth. Resting and finding all reasons to be in Nature in order to remind me of our essence: growth, life, aliveness, patience, color, evolution. I learn deeply from our ancestors and activists before us, most significantly Assata Shakur, Grace Lee Boggs, the Black Panther Party, Dr. Tolbert Small, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Malcolm X, MLK, Gloria Anzaldúa, Stokely Charmichael, Maya Angelou, the Third World Women's Alliance, Combahee River Collective, and more.

I'm always reading hella books! I just finished See No Stranger: A Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur. As for my favorites, I constantly go back to This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, the Combahee River Collective Statement, emergent strategy by adrienne marie brown, Los Cuatros Recuerdos by Don Miguel Ruiz, the Bhagavad Gita, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community" by MLK, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century" by Grace Lee Boggs, and writings by Thich Nhat Hanh.

What something you didn’t know, that now you understand differently with wellness?

I am my first experiment of liberation. I am my first embodiment of freedom and justice. When I know what justice feels like for me in my body and in my life, then I will be able to better help others establish that in their own lives. Self-love is self-accountability. Healing is critical to Social Justice. Taking care of ourselves is being accountable to this world. Mia Mingus said it clear: Most of us are unaccountable to ourselves. Most of us are in an abusive relationship with ourselves and that lays the groundwork for an abusive world.

When we come back to our bodies and spirits - listening, feeling, working with our emotions, we remember who we truly are. We remember that we are worthy and deserving of joy, love, and peace. We become aligned with our purpose.

These systems are purposely overworking, exhausting, and traumatizing people in order to instill fear and feelings of worthiness. The time to wake up is now. The time to realize that we are our own liberators is now. The time to take care of ourselves as a revolutionary act is now.

As I have done my own healing work to see myself as worthy and deserving of respect and love, I have become relentlessly determined to make sure other people experience this same truth. Healing is our way towards Justice and Freedom.

What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?

Grounding and centering myself every morning with meditation, gratitude, movement/exercise, and hella water! In general: laughing often, establishing clear boundaries, communicating, daydreaming, not taking life too seriously, trusting the process, making time for curiosity and awe, asking for help, saying "yes", saying "no", weekly bodywork, crying, and eating colorful foods. Talking with my emotions. Befriending my fears and doubts. Being unapologetic about rest. Being unapologetic about joy. Listening to my intuition. Having a close inner circle. Crying. Being comfortable in solitude. Taking myself on dates. Regular bodywork/acupuncture and breathwork.

Sundays are especially sacred for me. I do my best to have a good chunk of my Sunday be focused on my own solitude and processing. I've been doing a weekly Sunday reflection for the past 5 years and it's been incredible. I get to see the evolution and changes of different areas in my life, learn from the past, appreciate the present, and vision goals towards a new future. I like soaking in the bathtub, eating my favorite foods, cleansing my home, and relaxing for the coming week.

How can people reading this support the work you are doing?

Follow us on social media and donate to us! Fundraise for our community programs, feature us on your social media/websites/etc, and link us to match programs at your workplace! Reach out to us if you want to be a healer with us!

In the next year, we are aiming to solidify a full-time staff and create local Freedom Healing Centers and Freedom Schools of Healing and Liberation in the Bay and beyond to cultivate hyperlocal neighborhood healing apprenticeship programs, political education initiatives, and more community healing events.

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