Black History Month and DEIMW: A Call for Liberation
As the celebration of Black History Month (BHM) continues, we would like to highlight a few powerful and transformative Black teachers that have shifted our perspectives and deeply impacted the work we do here at Source Wellness. Time and time again, we come back to the work of Rhonda V. Magee and Ruth King to glean the insights that these women share with grace and compassion. Source Wellness’ mission to share DEIMW with the world largely stems from their work, and we are deeply grateful for the consistent source of clarity and insight that Magee and King offer.
Calling on Ruth King’s 2022 website post titled “Black History Month and Love,” we see that:
“It’s not that I don’t value Black history – I devalue hypocrisy. We’re living in fever pitch social violence; political hostility toward equality, critical race theory, and educating on American racial history; rezoning and threats to voting rights in Black communities; white nationalist insurgence on the State Capital; the outrage of appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court; economic exploitation of the working-poor; and too many folks resisting and resenting the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. There are far too many issues to list here! ... The questions on my mind are: Why do we have a Black History Month in America? Who is it for? How is it that we claim to honor Black History in February when it is socially, politically, and systemically devalued the remaining 11 months of the year? What delusions contribute to us forgetting that we belong to each other, this planet, and to something greater than our own self-interest?” (2)
While King later articulates that she does not intend to dampen BHM for anyone that celebrates, the valuable and poignant statements and questions that she highlights actually serve to ground the celebration of BHM in an honest and powerful way. There are unresolved traumas, racial harm, and a lack of atonement for hundreds of years of systemic oppression, violence, and terror against Black folks. When we celebrate and honor our Black brothers and sisters this month and every day of the year, how can we come back to the practice of “belonging to each other, this planet, and to something greater than our own self-interest?” (2) How can we remember that we all are deeply interconnected, all want to be happy, and all look to be free from difficulties. We are more alike than different, and we can forget that all too often. Mindfulness, meditation, and compassion practices allow us to remember this view of common humanity and interconnectedness whenever we can return to this moment, to the tenderness of the breath.
Further, on February 2nd, 2007, Rhonda V. Magee delivered a powerful speech on behalf of the African American Historical and Cultural Society. She stated:
“Let us work for freedom, beginning with the freedom of our minds. Let us work to heal our internal wounds, and the wounds within our community. Let us embrace repair and restorative justice in all its forms -- concrete and material, intangible and spiritual … And let us join together, not only to work toward freedom, but also to broaden the experience of freedom now. Let us learn and teach the practices of freedom. Let us join together to share the freedom that we can know right now, and can give in community together right now, and not only for ourselves, but for everyone.”
Rhonda V. Magee’s vision for liberation is deeply connected to freedom of our minds. This was part of her work before her impactful and innovative 2019 book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming our Communities Through Mindfulness, as Magee mentions the importance of finding grounding through contemplative reflection and silent meditation. She writes about Dr. Howard Thurman, who “taught Martin Luther King the value of contemplative prayer in moving spirituality from love for one another to acting for justice for all.” Likewise, Thurman once wrote: “How good it is to center down! To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by! We look at ourselves in this waiting moment – the kinds of people we are. The questions persist: what are we doing with our lives? Floating up through all the jangling echoes of our turbulence, there is a sound of another kind – a deeper note which only the stillness of the heart makes clear.” (2)
Through DEIMW, the transformative and innovative connection of DEI, Mindfulness, and Wellness activates a more sustainable, grounded, and powerful Anti-Racism and Black Liberation practice. When we take the time to truly connect to our purpose to cultivate healing and freedom of our hearts and minds, we can help cultivate a more peaceful world around us. When we find peace in our hearts, we can bring peace to those in our lives. Without being centered, it can be more difficult to direct our attention to what is most important at this moment. With mindfulness, we can self-regulate and come back to our deepest intentions for personal and collective well-being. Being present allows us to sustain ourselves without getting pulled into distractions of the past or projections in the future. We can draw from history and plan for what is to come with grace, clarity, and compassion for all.
Lastly, we wanted to offer a helpful Harvard University list of Anti-Racism Resources for Self-Care. This list is outlined for BIPOC, yet there are many resources particularly for Black folks. (3)