Ode to Woman on the Train and My Sistahs: Healing and Reimagining Loving Relationships with Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC)


  • Ericka Echavarria Columbia University School of Social Work


BIWOC, healing, relationship, self-reflection, poetry, women of color


In March 2019, I was assaulted on a busy NYC train during an early morning commute by a Black woman who appeared to be mentally ill. The incident left an indelible impact on my heart, body, and soul, and created a somatic opening to experience oneness and healing with my attacker, a Black woman, as well as with other Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color who have harmed me, and who I have also harmed. This article will discuss how I used contemplative practices to unpack the complexity of emotions I experienced in the processing of the incident and other interactions with BIWOC, including grief, rage, compassion, and resolve. I will conclude with a description of how I am leveraging this experience to cultivate a commitment to healing and supportive relationships with BIWOC and reimagining ways we can presently experience liberation from our conditioned patterns of relating with one another.

Author Biography

Ericka Echavarria, Columbia University School of Social Work

Ericka Echavarria, LMSW, JD, currently serves as an Associate Director of Field Education and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, and is a Co-Convener of the Seminar in Field Instruction for CSSW Field Instructors. Ericka is also an embodied coach and facilitator, and a contemplative who engages in contemplative practices to aspire towards individual and collective liberation. She is passionate about preparing future and current social justice workers for a justice-based practice with participants and systems, through a power, race, oppression, and privilege lens and the use of contemplative practices and inquiry to cultivate awareness and accountability.