Diamond Hawkins, Community Healing Network’s Outreach Coordinator, is currently traveling in Ghana. We asked her to share some of her experiences with us on this Let’s Talk Tuesday.

If you take a look at the coast of Ghana on a Google map, you will notice the beautiful waters that rush against the sands of the country. A series of forts and castles dot the coast.

Those forts and castles were the sites of crimes against humanity.

These castles mark the beginning of the perilous journey of Africans during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These castles were the last memories our ancestors had of their beautiful homeland, before being taken across the Atlantic Ocean to be sold as human property.

I was given the opportunity to trek back to the homeland of my ancestors to learn how they got to the land where I now reside, The United States of America.

I chose to begin my search in Ghana (formerly known as the Gold Coast) because the nation houses one of the most infamous of these castles, the Cape Coast Castle.

I will take you through my experience of what it was like to walk on the grounds of the place where many of our ancestors were tortured, before coming to my current home in the Americas.

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These are the feelings that overwhelmed me as I entered the dungeons of the Cape Coast Castle.

It was dark, damp and filled with a thick stench. A stench that represented 400 years of human abuse and captivity.

This is the place where our ancestors were treated like no creature on earth should be treated. They were whipped, starved and raped here. White marks on the dungeon walls represent the levels of the floor prior to the recent excavation.

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The ground that you see in the photo above shows the floor many would think is made of dirt. These floors are actually covered with human excrements.

Left to survive in two feet of human feces, blood, vomit, and decaying flesh -- these were the conditions our ancestors lived in while staying in the castle. They were left for up to three months. As you can imagine, many grew ill and died.

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As you can see in the photo above, the dungeons had very little light. These same holes for light were used to throw down water and a little food. Many people lost their eyesight when they were brought out into the quarry before being loaded on ships to the Americas due to being forced to live in darkness.

The castle was not only used for the slave trade and captivity, but also became the office for the British Governors. Here they created rooms where the “Elite” would conduct business and worship.

In the upper chamber of the Castle were beautiful windows that showed the ocean that hugged the coast of West Africa. Through these windows, the governors were also able to see the ships of their newly shipped human cargo, make its way to the the Americas and the Caribbean.

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Could you imagine waking up to this view every day? This is what our ancestors saw daily before being ripped away from their homes in captivity.

Walking around the upper chamber of the castle, I noticed a room which is which the guide referred to as the “Chapel”. This chapel was built directly over the dungeons where our ancestors lived in horrible conditions causing many of them to die.

The dungeons were built right under the churches where the British would praise, dance, and go about their normal lives, detaching from the unfathomable, disgusting, human suffering they consciously inflicted upon our ancestors. There were trap doors leading to the dungeons, where guards would stand during business and church to listen closely to the slaves to ensure there were no revolts.

 Trap Door of Dungeons

Trap Door of Dungeons

As I continued to walk through the chambers of my ancestors, I felt an overwhelming sense of pain and sadness, a feeling that caused me to fall short of the rest of my tour group. I needed a moment to recuperate my emotions before viewing the final part of the castle, the “Door of no return”.

 Door of no return

Door of no return

This door represents the last door our ancestors would walk through before being loaded onto ships to where they would be sold to create the new world. Walking through that door provided weak sensations throughout my body, leading to a face full of tears.

This is what I saw on the other side of the door: beautiful oceans, wildlife and fishermen. A sight my ancestors did not get to see. Unlike those beautiful men and women who were held captive and sent to the new world, I was able to walk back into the Door of Return, heading back into the lands of Ghana.

 View on the side of the Door of Return

View on the side of the Door of Return

The Door is named the Door of Return, to signify the work being done to connect those apart of the African Diaspora globally. Encouraging our community to remember the history of our people, and work together to rewrite the narrative.

Taking this trip to Cape Coast Castle was an experience no one could have prepared me for. The connections I had to my ancestors will forever be remembered. I made a promise as I stood at the dock the the castle, I will continue to walk the paths of my ancestors, connect the dots of our history, and rewrite the narrative for generations to come.

I believe that all of us who are a part of the Diaspora, must make this trek to the West African Coastlines to connect with those who came before us.

What do you think? Have you been to Cape Coast? What was your experience? Will you plan a trek to Ghana?

Please share your experiences and views in the comment box below.

                                  --Diamond Hawkins, CHN Outreach Coordinator

To follow Diamond on her further travels in Ghana, please visit



Let's Talk Tuesdays ! | Revolutionary Acts of Self-Care and Community Care

Happy Tuesday, friends of CHN!


It’s Let’s Talk Tuesday again !


The issue of self-care has rightly taken center stage for Black people.

Racism wears us down, and fighting it can push us even further down. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Racism and racial discrimination adversely affect mental health, producing depression, anxiety, and heightened psychological stress in those who experience it."  

Racism encourages us to devalue ourselves. Taking care of ourselves is therefore a revolutionary act—an antidote to racism’s poisonous effects.

Physical health affects psychological health--and vice versa. We cannot afford to be passive about either one. We must be intentional about both.  

Self-care includes eating properly, exercising regularly, and attending to our physical health. We also need to take time to breathe, reflect, meditate, pray, be in nature, disconnect from technology, and seek psychological help when necessary.  

We need to be especially purposeful about neutralizing the many negative images of Black people that still wash over us every day.


As the actress Phylicia Rashad reminds us:  


“Everything you do, every thought you have, every word you say creates a memory that you will hold in your body. It's imprinted on you and affects you in subtle ways--ways you are not always aware of. With that in mind, be very conscious and selective.”

Self-care is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

We need to be careful not to fall into individualistic traps. Western culture emphasizes individualism--encouraging us to focus primarily on ourselves.

But humans are also “social” beings. Much of our sense of wellness comes from our sense of connectedness—of being with, and doing things with and for, other people.

As the psychologist Na’im Akbar tells us:


“African people throughout the world have a worldview that is conceived as a universal oneness. There is interconnection of all things that compose the universe.”

Bottom line is, in addition to self-care, we need to focus on family and community care.

Communities with strong social connections within families and among neighbors and friends are more likely to be healthy and better able to respond to crises. 

As people of African ancestry, we have a rich cultural heritage that emphasizes connectedness and relationships, as expressed in the Zulu proverb Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, ”a person is a person through other persons.” 

Among the keys to the enslavement and subjugation of African people was the breaking of bonds of trust among Black men, women, and children. That separation undermined--and continues to undermine--our health. To enhance our well-being, we must strengthen our bonds of family and community.

An Akan proverb teaches that “life is mutual aid.” Coming together in our families and in our communities creates safe spaces in which we can hold each other accountable for taking care of ourselves --and share our feelings, concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams.

Family care and community care, like self­-care, are revolutionary acts.

Please click this link for a Care Tool Kit developed by Community Healing Network and the Association of Black Psychologists.

We’re renewing our commitments to self, family, and community care. How about you? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

--Enola G. Aird, CHN Founder and President, and Diamond Hawkins, CHN Outreach Coordinator


Let's Talk Tuesdays ! | Taking Control of Our Re-Education


Let's Talk Tuesdays ! | Taking Control of Our Re-Education

Happy Tuesday, Friends of CHN!


This has been a phenomenal Black History Month!  

Black Panther lit us up! It sparked illuminating conversations. It forced us to stop going through the motions and to begin to think in fresh ways about our history, our present, and our future. It united us as people of African ancestry. It raised a host of critical questions, the answers to which can help us get clarity about the future we want to create for ourselves and our children.   

This year’s Black History Month has brought Africa and its Diaspora to a crossroads.

We can stay on the road we were going down before –a road that leads us to more of the same: the devaluing of Black lives and the underdevelopment of Black communities.

Or, we can take the exit that leads to emotional emancipation, healing, reparation, wellness, empowerment, and a reclaiming of our dignity and humanity as people of African ancestry.

For generations, African freedom fighters across the Diaspora have been calling us to free ourselves from the shackles of mental enslavement—as a prerequisite for complete freedom for Black people.

Steve Biko told us that:

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Dr. King urged us to fight for our “psychological freedom.”

Maya Angelou advised us to “take a day to heal from the lies we’ve been told and the ones we’ve told ourselves.”


We would do well at this crucial moment to deepen our understanding of the legacy of these and the many other “psychological freedom fighters” in our history.

As Black History Month comes to a close, we should pay special attention to Carter G. Woodson’s observation that:

“[E]very man has two educators: that which is given to him, and the other that which he gives himself. Of the two kinds the latter is by far the more desirable. Indeed, all that is most worthy in man he must work out and conquer for himself. It is that which constitutes our real and best nourishment. What we are merely taught seldom nourishes the mind like that which we teach ourselves.”

The first and most important thing for us to do now is to be skeptical of what we have been taught. Woodson was right. Our education has been-- and is—"mis-education.” It is education for the preservation of White supremacy—for the maintenance of the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority.

So we would do well to start or intensify our own re-education. Take a break from the relentlessness of social media and spend time curled up with the writings of Dr. Amos Wilson, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Cheikh Anta Diop, and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing. We may not agree with everything they say, but we will learn more about ourselves, our past, our present, and possible directions for our future.


Who else would you add to this list? What do you think? We’d love to know what’s on your mind. Share your comments below.

                                       --Enola G. Aird, Founder and President, CHN


Let’s Talk Tuesdays | Marvel's Black Panther and Our Beautiful Black Future


Let’s Talk Tuesdays | Marvel's Black Panther and Our Beautiful Black Future

Happy Tuesday, CHN friends!


Did you see Black Panther?!?! We did!


What a movie!


Black Panther has the potential to be as consequential a film as 1915’s Birth of a Nation. Just as that film wrote the cinematic narrative for the relentless portrayal of Black people as sub-human, Black Panther has opened the door to a new narrative that portrays Black people as fully human beings.

With a cast of extraordinarily beautiful Black women and men from across the African Diaspora delivering magnificent performances, and a script that is thought-provoking, funny, and inspiring, with many lines that really hit the spot for us as Black people, Black Panther is a fantastic movie.


Can we just take a moment to appreciate all these beautiful black actors. I am blinded by the beauty, where are my SHADES?!?!"


Black Panther has set the stage for a new era in film history--one in which Black people might routinely create movies that show Black life and culture in all its richness and complexity. For that, the film’s producers, writers, director, and actors deserve the deepest thanks of all Black people.

In the words of Marcus Garvey:



In one fell swoop,  Black Panther gives us a glimpse of both that history and that future. It invites us to think about the possibilities of creating a Wakanda-like existence for ourselves and our children.

The movie creates a beautiful world for Black people to inhabit—a world that helps us imagine what our lives as Africans could have been had it not been for the great European disruption of nearly 600 years ago. Black Panther makes us long for that world and may, in so doing, encourage us to do the long-overdue work necessary to empower us to create that world.  

Garvey said that in order to create the beautiful future that is our destiny, we must “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.” We must free ourselves from the poisonous lie that Whiteness is superior to Blackness.

The urgent question implicit in Black Panther is this: Why is it that the fictional world of Wakanda stands alone as a symbol of Black preeminence, and why is it that in this real world that we live in today, there is no Black country like Wakanda?

This is no accident.  For nearly 600 years, we Black people have been living our lives according to a narrative written for us by Europeans to serve their economic interests. In their narrative, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, everything Black is “ugly and evil,” and everything White is “pure, high and clean.”  This narrative is grounded in the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority and was created to justify the enslavement of African people and the economic exploitation of Africa, the richest continent on the face of the earth.

The European narrative created a hierarchy of humanity with White people at the top and Black people at the bottom and sometimes even outside the circle of humanity. These lies convinced the world that nothing good comes out of Africa and that Black people are not as beautiful, intelligent, lovable, capable, worthy or valuable as White people. These lies objectified, commodified, and dehumanized people of African ancestry.

As a result, for almost a millennium, all over the world, the advantages conferred by “Whiteness” and the disadvantages imposed by “Blackness” have been multiplying. This is why, all around the world, Black communities are under-developed and Black lives do not matter as much as white lives.

Once we see how this narrative, grounded in lies, has been shaping our lives, we can begin the intentional and systematic work of rejecting it, in favor a narrative that we write for ourselves—a narrative grounded in the truth of our dignity and humanity as people of African ancestry.

Racism against Black people stands on a foundation built by the lies of White superiority and Black inferiority. The characters in Black Panther evince no sense of being inferior to anyone. That is a big part of what makes it such a beautiful movie.

It is also what could make it a great impetus for what the global Black community needs most right now: a movement for emotional emancipation, a movement to free all people of African ancestry from the lies –once and for all.  


Join Community healing network in creating a Wakanda-like world in which Black people are free not only in body, but also in mind and spirit-- a world in which Black people everywhere have moved beyond surviving to flourishing.


Let us know what you think! Tune in every tuesday for Let’s Talk Tuesdays.


     -Enola G. Aird, Founder and President



January 2017 Valuing Black Lives Global Summit Communiqué and Call to Action

Dear Friends:

Happy New Year.

We are delighted to announce the release of the Valuing Black Lives Global Summit Communiqué and Call to Action, available for download here.

This a Call to the African Diaspora to change our narrative in order to change our trajectory.
Please review the Call and share it widely. And mark your calendars now to join us in May for the launch of our 2017 Global Action designed to bring the Diaspora closer together in this third year of the International Decade for People of African Descent.  

Thank you.


Enola Aird, Community Healing Network, Inc.
Cheryl Tawede Grills, The Association of Black Psychologists