Why does the Black community seem to be standing still and, in far too many ways, moving backward? Because we’ve been trying to fight racism without attacking its foundations: the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority. These lies were devised nearly four hundred years ago to justify the enslavement, colonization, and subjugation of African people around the world. Enslavement and colonization were ended. Laws aimed at promoting racial equality have been passed. But the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority have remained unchallenged. And they are still with us today. Many things have changed for Black people around the world, but there is a profound sense in which the most important thing has not changed. Black people are still viewed as “less than.” Until that changes, there can be no end to racism, and no true progress toward genuine racial equality.
Community Healing Network has been working since 2006 to end racism by dismantling its foundations.
Community Healing Network (CHN), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit launched in 2006, is the only organization focused solely on building the global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation – to help Black people overcome, heal from, and overturn the root causes of the devaluing of Black lives: the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority.
CHN’s purpose is to help the global Black community move past surviving to thriving to flourishing. In the words of Dr. Maya Angelou, founding chair of CHN’s Board of Advisors, we are moving “beyond the pain of the blues to the sky blue of unlimited possibilities!”
We are doing this essential work by fostering the development of a culture of emotional emancipation, healing, wellness, and empowerment within Black families and neighborhoods across the African Diaspora.
CHN’s Vision is a world in which Black people everywhere are flourishing and enjoying life in all its fullness – in body, mind, and spirit.
CHN’s Mission is to help people across the African Diaspora heal from the historical and continuing trauma caused by centuries of anti-Black racism, free ourselves of deadly stereotypes, and reclaim our dignity and humanity as people of African ancestry.
CHN is working to engage a critical mass of Black people in the journey toward emotional emancipation by 2019, the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of Africans at Virginia colony in the United States. Because 400 years of dehumanization are more than enough. And so that, by the year 2020, we as a people will begin to see ourselves in a whole new light.
For nearly 400 years, the world has accepted toxic lies about people of African ancestry. These lies are all rooted in the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority, devised to justify the enslavement and subjugation of African people all around the world. These lies tell us that Black people are not as beautiful, capable, intelligent, worthy, or valuable as White people. These lies are at the root of racial disparities and the under-development of Black communities across the globe, and too many lost hopes, lost dreams, and lost lives.
From young Black boys in the inner city to the First Lady of the United States, Black people are increasingly speaking out about the emotional toll that the lies are taking on their lives. The lies have led to the dehumanization of Black people. They are the sources of continuing emotional trauma and stress, and contribute to Black-White mental and physical health disparities, violence within Black communities, the criminalization, mass incarceration, and wanton killing of Black people, and many of the other problems we face. These lies also make it difficult for Black people to come together to solve these problems. In order to address the many challenges facing Black communities around the world, we, Black people, must free ourselves and our children from the lies.
Black people are resilient, but centuries of living with the weight of these lies have left many Black communities in the United States and around the world in emotional distress. A growing body of research is documenting that the plight of Black people across the country is a manifestation of the racial trauma and stress that result from the devaluing of Black lives. In 2006, the American Psychiatric Association adopted an official policy statement recognizing that “racism and racial discrimination adversely affect mental health by diminishing the victim’s self-image, confidence and optimal mental functioning [and] are two of the factors leading to mental health care disparities.” In 2012, the Association for Psychological Science reported on a study that found that experiencing racial discrimination leads to “patterns of thought, behaviors, and physiological responses that may contribute to overall health disparities” for African Americans. This is true not just in the United States. The United Nations has recently called attention to the fact that the descendants of the victims of enslavement, people of African ancestry all over the world, are today among the “poorest and most marginalized groups” who “have limited access to quality education, health services, housing and social security, … and all too often experience discrimination in their access to justice, and face alarmingly high rates of police violence, together with racial profiling.”
At CHN, we believe that the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority contribute to nearly every challenge facing Black communities. The house of racism is built upon these lies, and CHN’s aim is to dismantle the house by focusing on its foundation.
CHN has developed a wide range of initiatives to build the movement for emotional emancipation, forging strategic collaborations with leading national and international Black organizations including our primary ally, the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi).
COMMUNITY HEALING NETWORK’S INITIATIVES
1. Leadership Development
Through its Community Healing Institute℠ , CHN:
a) brings together Black mental health professionals to develop resources to help local leaders establish emotional emancipation initiatives;
b) forged a collaboration with the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) to bring to the movement ABPsi’s professional expertise, cultural sensitivities, technical assistance, and local, national, and international links;
c) developed, in collaboration with ABPsi, Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circles℠, self-help support groups in which Black people can share stories and feelings, deepen our understanding of the impact of history on our emotional lives, and learn essential emotional wellness skills;
d) established The Way Back Home℠ -- a private online portal for CHN, members of ABPsi, allied mental health professionals, grassroots community-based organizations, and other social, cultural, and civic organizations to work together to help build a transformative movement for the emotional emancipation, healing, wellness, and empowerment of Black people across the United States and around the world. As the Door of No Return led our ancestors out of Africa and to places where the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority would dehumanize them and us, The Way Back Home is designed to help us overturn the lies, embrace the truth, and reclaim our humanity;
e) equips and dispatches Emotional Emancipation Rapid Response Teams℠ to respond to communities in crisis to share strategies for immediate trauma relief and plant seeds for the relief of long-term and continuing trauma;
f) creates Emotional Emancipation Assessments℠, a series of questionnaires to help communities , organizations, families, and individuals assess the extent to which theyare affected by the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority, and develop ways to free themselves;
g) collaborated with Theresa Okwumabua, author of the Let the Circle Be Unbroken Rites of Passage curriculum to develop an Emotional Emancipation Rites of Passage initiative for young people; and
h) develops CEU courses for professionals of all races who provide services to Black people to strengthen their abilities to serve, empower, and transform Black communities.
2. Grassroots Community Mobilization
CHN has developed the following initiatives to mobilize individuals and communities to join the movement for emotional emancipation:
a) the annual celebration of Community Healing DaysSM/Wear Sky Blue Days℠, on the third weekend of every October, to raise awareness and put “time for healing” at the top of the Black community’s agenda and to show our collective determination to move “beyond the pain of the blues to the sky blue of unlimited possibilities.” People in as many as 39 states and three countries have participated in Community Healing Days/Wear Sky Blue celebrations;
b) the Defy the Lie and Embrace the Truth℠ campaign, designed to encourage Black people to make personal commitments to emotional wellness and empowerment by pledging to “Defy the Lie of Black Inferiority and Embrace the Truth of Black Humanity;”
c) the #IValueBlackLives℠ initiative, a call to action to people of all races to take personal responsibility for helping to bring an end to the devaluing of the lives of Black people; and
d) Community Healer Awards℠ designed to recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions to community healing at the local, national, and international levels.
3. Global Knowledge Exchange
Valuing Black Lives: The Annual Global Emotional Emancipation Summit℠, a solutions-focused, action-oriented forum designed to bring together leaders of African ancestry from around the world to develop action plans to extinguish the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority--once and for all. Through this multi-year, international effort, we will provide Black people with educational and training opportunities that have never existed before. We will engage Black people from around the world in building a diverse movement for emotional emancipation that speaks to the specific needs of people in different parts of the world, and also addresses our shared challenges.
The initial Summit will be held on Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18, 2015, in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the 45th Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and will be sponsored by the Honorable Karen Bass (D. Calif.), Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives.