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Let's Talk Tuesdays | Black Panther and African Global Unity

Happy Tuesday, CHN Friends:

I hope you’re as excited as I am that Black Panther was released in digital form last week and comes out on Blu-ray today. When it premiered in February, the movie brought us together in a wonderful spirit of shared pride.

And now, Black Panther’s release for home video comes at a remarkable moment. As it happens, yesterday was the first day of Black European and People of African Descent (PAD) Week. Next Friday, May 25, is Africa Day. And next week is the second annual #ImAfricanBornIn Week.

These are all powerful signals of the reuniting of the African Diaspora, coming together literally within days of each other.

Remember when Black Panther was released? All around the world, people of African descent cheered. The film gave us a great sense of oneness—a sense that wherever we are – from Kenya to Brazil to the United States – we are all united by our Africanness.

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The film also gave us a shared hope that we might be able to change the narrative about what it means to be Black—what it means to be African --from that of a people long dehumanized to that of a people proudly reclaiming our dignity and humanity.

This week, our sisters and brothers in Sweden, Italy, Germany, and other places in Europe are for the first time in history coming together for Black European and People of African Descent (PAD) Week--united by their Blackness, their Africanness.

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People of African ancestry in the United States and all around the world are standing in solidarity with people of African descent in Europe as they take this ground-breaking step.

Next week, on Friday, May 25, the world will celebrate Africa Day, observed annually and widely across the world, particularly in Africa, "to signify Africa’s identity and unity." Africa Day is also called African Liberation Day and African Freedom Day.

And from May 20 to May 26, Black people across the world will participate in #ImAfricanBornIn, a week-long global online conversation designed to bring the people of the Diaspora closer together and closer to Africa.

The #ImAfricanBornIn hashtag expresses the sentiments at the heart of the centuries-old Pan-African movement and is meant to support the many Pan-African initiatives already underway. The campaign is grounded in the belief that we are one people in many places, rooted in Africa.

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#ImAfricanBornIn is a social media campaign that invites us as people of African ancestry to check in with each other every year from wherever we are in the world and share what it’s like to be African there. What are the joys? What are the challenges? What are the signs of progress for Black people? Please click here for more on the campaign.

The timing of all these events is almost perfect. So much so that it cannot be a coincidence. God and our ancestors are at work, sisters and brothers, putting all the pieces in place for an African renaissance.

Join us next week to celebrate our shared African ancestry and to continue the African Diaspora Conversation. For details, click here.

--Enola G. Aird, Founder and President, Community Healing Network

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Let's Talk Tuesday | Self-Love

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Happy Tuesday, CHN Friends!

The year my daughter turned five, one of her birthday presents was a doll. It was a gift from a family friend and it led to one of the toughest disagreements I ever had with my little girl.

The doll was actually a “styling head.” Its sole purpose was to give little girls the opportunity to comb and style. The doll was Black, and it had long straight hair. My daughter had short, kinky hair. What to do? I have nothing against long, straight hair.

But, I didn’t want my daughter spending hours combing—and wishing for—something she, as a little Black girl with short hair, did not have. And so, without talking with my daughter, I grabbed a pair of scissors and gave the doll short hair. My daughter was furious. “Why did you cut her hair, mommy?” she cried. “I wanted to comb it.”

Of course, I was wrong to do what I did without talking to my child first. After more than an hour of trying to explain my actions to her, I held her gently by the hand and walked her over to a mirror. I asked her to look at her beautiful self and make up her mind, at that very moment, that she would always love everything that she saw when she looked at her reflection.

Fast forward to my daughter’s junior year in college. For my birthday, she gave me a card with a simple message: “Thank you for helping me love my hair.”

This memory came flooding back to me last week as I read Diamond Hawkins’s powerful blog post on self-acceptance. It got me thinking again about the critical role Black parents and adults have to play in helping Black children accept—and love—themselves.

In a world in which anti-Blackness seems to be gaining renewed strength, we have to intensify our efforts to make sure that our children know how truly lovable, beautiful, capable, intelligent, worthy and valuable they are. It is our job to do everything we can to make sure our children love themselves.

Here are three principles that have helped me.

1. Make sure our children know how much we love them. Because of the world’s hostility to our children, we have to work overtime to show them our love. It has really helped me over the years to learn and remember that love is not just a feeling. It is best expressed in our actions. Someone once said that to LOVE is to Listen, Observe, Value and Empathize. The more we do these things with our children, the more they will feel our love.

2. Make sure our children know their wonderful legacy. Africa and Africans have a rich history and culture. African people are the prototype of humanity; 250,000 years ago, African people were the only human beings on earth. As the first people to think, to conceive of time, and more, Africans created thriving civilizations. European history, in contrast, is only 8,000 years old. (Browder, 2016). Every Black child needs to know that he or she is a descendant of Africa--the cradle of human civilization and the richest continent on the face of the earth. Our collective history (before and after enslavement) and our family histories are full of tales of extraordinary character, strength, courage, and accomplishments that can ground, inspire, and guide our children

3. Make sure our children know about the anti-Black narrative and how to counteract it. Africa’s rich history was ruptured by European invasion and violence. To enrich itself and build the great wealth of the Western world, Europe erased Africa’s history and replaced it with the anti-Black narrative. This was done to justify the enslavement of African people and the exploitation of Africa. For nearly 600 years, as people of African ancestry, we have been living our lives according to a narrative written for us by other people to serve their economic interests. Our children need to know that that narrative is deliberately designed to undermine our love for ourselves. We must, therefore, be intentional about engaging in the radical act of loving our Black selves, including our Black hair, our Black skin, and all our beautiful Black features.

 

What are your stories and lessons for cultivating self-love in Black children?

Please share them by commenting below. 

--Enola G. Aird, Founder and President, Community Healing Network

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Let’s talk Tuesday | Self-Acceptance

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Happy Tuesday, CHN friends!

Happy First day of May!

 

After spending all of March baking in the sun in the land of my ancestors in Ghana and walking through the aroma of spice markets in Dubai, you’d think I’d come back home refreshed, right? I’d think so too. Well, that was not the case for me. The month of April wasn’t a very great month for me, emotionally, physically, or mentally.

From getting sick with a cold, experiencing a RANDOM decline in my health, to getting into a head-on car collision, my April showers were the handfuls of tears running down my face because I didn’t understand why my “luck” was so bad after taking time to reset with my trip.

It was one thing after another, leaving me feeling worthless. It began with tears and ended in negative thoughts of who I am or at least who I thought I was at that moment. 

To get myself out of that extended rut, I decided to re-read some of the journals I read in college during my happiest times. What I found was one article by Dr. Lorrie A. Shepard called “Self-Acceptance.”

What I found was a simple note, “Diamond when times get rough, remember Self-acceptance is important.”

As I planned for the month of May, I decided to pay attention to and practice self-acceptance in order to be the best version of myself. The result? I feel restored and ready to take on this new month.

And so, I thought why not share this with my brothers and sisters.

According to Dr. Shepard, “self-acceptance is an individual's satisfaction or happiness with oneself, and is thought to be necessary for good mental health.”

Self-acceptance determines the level of happiness you achieve. It is one of the most difficult, yet vital traits humans must master to live a fulfilled life. It helps us become successful and impact the world in positive ways.

But self-acceptance is something we struggle with as a community.

For almost 600 years, the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority, told to justify the enslavement of African people, have led the world--and us -- to believe that Black people are inferior human beings--unworthy of full acceptance. 

Brothers and Sisters, it is important to practice self-acceptance as we continue the struggle to reclaim our dignity and humanity as African people.

 

Here are my 8 keys to cultivating self-acceptance.

1. Know what self-acceptance is.

To me, self-acceptance is feeling content and supportive of myself. These are the times when I feel like my own best friend and cheerleader.

2. Set an Intention:

Make the decision to accept yourself.

3. Celebrate your strengths:

Too many times, we tend to minimize our strengths and identify with words and thoughts that represent a lack of self-worth. Try writing a list of your strengths in a place where you can see them daily (I use my mirror).

4. Think about the company you keep.

Our sense of self-acceptance is affected by the people we surround ourselves with.

My grandma used to tell me “ Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who YOU are.”

Ask yourself these questions.

Are the people in my circle positive or negative?

Who speaks highly of me? Negatively?

Who celebrates my successes? Who does not?

These are very important questions to ask yourself. If we surround ourselves with positive self-loving people, we will have an easier time maintaining happiness and accepting ourselves.

5. Forgive yourself.

I know sometimes I make mistakes and I feel very bad about myself. Mistakes often bring a feeling of worthlessness to surface. These regrets about the past only set us back.

Apologize to yourself. I like to tell myself in front of my mirror, “I am sorry for making you feel such hurt. You are human. We all make mistakes.”

HUSH YOUR INNER CRITICS!!!

6. Know that acceptance is NOT resignation.

Self-acceptance means I’m “growing”, not I’m giving up.

7. Speak to your highest self and be kind.

For me, I think about what the Diamond who has reached her full potential would look like, and focus on being kind to myself as I do the work to become that person.

There’s a very thin line between using that potential as fuel, and allowing that potential to make you fearful. You have to make a decision between fear or fuel, and self-acceptance helps you use it as fuel.

8. Celebrate self-acceptance and encourage others to do the same.

We can all use a greater sense of self-acceptance. As people of African ancestry, we live in a world that devalues us, which makes self-acceptance all the more important for us to cultivate.

As it happens, May 25th is Africa Day! That is the day of the annual commemoration of the founding of the African Union. The week of May 20-26, 2018 is the week of CHN’s #imafricanbornin online campaign designed to bring the African Diaspora closer together and closer to Africa.

What better month to focus on accepting our beauty, our intelligence, our capabilities, our dignity and humanity as African people. 

Please click below to share ways you will practice self-acceptance, especially during Africa Week, May 20-26.

-- Diamond Hawkins, CHN Outreach Coordinator

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Remembering Who and Whose We Are

Happy Tuesday, CHN Friends!

A Swahili proverb tells us that “wisdom is wealth.”

This week, I simply want to take the opportunity to share some wisdom with you.These are words of truth and encouragement that ground, inspire, and guide us here at Community Healing Network--keeping us moving forward with joy and determination, even in the most challenging of times.

These are cultural affirmations that we use to remind ourselves that, whatever may be going on around us, as people of African ancestry, we have amazing strengths and we will prevail.

Think of these powerful words as emotional and psychological armor that can protect us and our children as we make our way in this world everyday.

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These pearls of wisdom all remind us of the most inspiring thing about us as people of African ancestry:

“We are the children of the amazing people who made a way out of no way.”

What words of wisdom do you carry with you into the world every day to protect, inspire, and guide you? Please share them by commenting below.

          --Enola G. Aird, CHN Founder and President

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Let’s talk Tuesday | Valuing Black Lives

Happy Tuesday!

Breathe, Baby, Breathe.

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With the arrests of two Black men for “being” in a Philadelphia Starbucks coffee shop and a little Black boy shot at in Rochester, New York, for “asking” for directions, this country has added, yet again, to the list of ordinary everyday things that are safe for White people, but dangerous, and even life-threatening, for Black people.

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 Breathe, Baby, Breathe.

This is sobering news for sure. But it has an upside.  These tragic events force us to ask why—and, in the asking, we are getting closer and closer to the root causes of the challenges we face as Black people. And the closer we get to root causes, the closer we get to dealing with them once and for all and charting a course to our complete liberation as a people.

This month marks the 172nd anniversary of the filing of Dred Scott’s lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court. Scott was an enslaved Black man who claimed he should be freed because his owners had taken him from Missouri, a “slave” state, to the “free” states of Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory. The case ended up in the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that Black people could not sue because they were not citizens.

The Court declared that Black people “are beings of an inferior order... so far inferior that they have no rights which the White man is bound to respect.”

The persistent attacks on the dignity and lives of Black people today raise the same question Dred Scott tried to get the Supreme Court to address more than a century and a half ago.

Are Black people in America clothed with any rights the White man is bound to respect?

Breathe, Baby, Breathe.

We, Black people, may declare that Black lives matter. But it is increasingly and painfully clear that, for far too many people, Black lives simply do not matter as much as White lives.  Why not? Because of the lie of Black inferiority upheld in the Dred Scott decision, and, its equally evil twin, the lie of White superiority.

For nearly 600 years, these lies have created a hierarchy of humanity, with White people on the top and Black people at the bottom, and, often, even outside of the circle of humanity. These lies objectified, commodified, and dehumanized Black people, and they are still haunting us today.

These lies created stereotypes that cause us to think badly of ourselves, and others to think badly of us. These lies are at the root of the many racial disparities between Black and White people. They are at the heart of the mistreatment and the killings of Black men, women, and children.

Unless we rid ourselves of these lies, we and our children will continue to suffer.

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Declaring that Black lives matter is a crucial step along the road to ending the dehumanization of Black people. But we need more. We need a systematic and comprehensive movement for emotional emancipation to value Black lives by helping Black people heal from the centuries of trauma caused by the lies and by extinguishing the lies once and for all.

Stay tuned for more on the next phase in the movement for emotional emancipation.

For now, we want to invite you to take the first and most important step in valuing Black lives by focusing on—and calling attention to--the underlying causes of the disease of anti-Black racism.

A Rwandan proverb advises that “it is not where you are. It’s what you do there that matters.”

The great need of this hour is to focus on the root causes of our challenges as people of African ancestry—here in the United States and around the world.

And so, I ask you to consider, wherever you are, what are you doing there to focus attention on root causes? How might you be more intentional, more collaborative, more powerful in the vital work of freeing our beloved community from the lies?

It is well past time for us to address the underlying causes of our collective dehumanization--and focus with clarity and courage on the restoration of our full humanity.

What do you think? Click the button below to share your thoughts.

The Struggle is Ending. Victory is Certain.

--Enola G. Aird, CHN Founder and President

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Let’s Talk Tuesday! | The Struggle Is Ending

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Let’s Talk Tuesday! | The Struggle Is Ending

A Luta Continua.” The struggle continues.

We hear the phrase all the time. Among our community of Black activists, it’s a rallying call, a way to close protests, speeches, emails, and social media posts. 

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We rarely hear what used to be the second part of that call though: “A vitória é certa,” victory is certain. Over the years, we have come to focus more on the continuation of the struggle, and less on our ultimate victory. It’s like the refrain "we've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."

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Think about these slogans for a minute. By de-emphasizing our eventual victory, we are suggesting that our struggle will be perpetual. As a Black mother, I refuse to believe that this battle should just keep going on and on. I hope you’ll refuse to believe it too.

At Community Healing Network, we believe that we owe it to our children to do something both simple and audacious: set deadlines for achieving our goals. We as people of African ancestry are in a struggle for fundamental human rights. Why should we talk as though we’ll never win?

From the moment we launched CHN in 2006, we set 2019 as the year by which we would engage a critical mass of Black people in the journey toward emotional emancipation so that by 2020 we as a people will begin to see ourselves in a whole new light.

Why 2019? Because in August of that year, the nation will observe the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of Africans in Virginia. By that date, we intend to significantly raise public awareness about the movement for emotional emancipation-- for freedom from the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority: the root causes of anti-Black racism. And we are gearing up now to meet that deadline.

Stay tuned for more on that.

For now, we invite you to join us in rejecting the “struggle continues” mantra. We think it’s vital that we keep our victory firmly in view. So we prefer “the struggle is ending.” That’s the spirit behind CHN's call to the global Black community to move “beyond the pain of the blues to the sky blue of unlimited possibilities” and “beyond surviving to flourishing.”

When we do our activism in the spirit of “the struggle is ending” we are bringing a different attitude. We are anticipating an end to our struggle. We are signaling to our children that we believe it is in our power as a great people to effect the changes that will free us completely. By envisioning an end, we make it much more likely that we will bring that vision into reality.

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If that sounds too bold, remember the words of Zora Neale Hurston: “Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at the sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."

At CHN, our commitment is not just to the fight but to victory.

      --Enola G. Aird, CHN Founder and President

Tell us what you think. Comment below to join the conversation.

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