CHN PUBLIC STATEMENTS
Once again, Black people are under assault. The world looks on in fury and condemnation at the killing of George Floyd by police and what could easily have become the murder of Christian Cooper, on May 25, African Liberation Day.
We join in condemning the continuing assaults on the lives and the dignity of Black people. But, sadly, the marches and the calls for justice are missing a larger point.
The question we, Black people, need to be asking is this: Why are we so often the targets of such inhumanity? The roots of that inhumanity run deep.
For more than 600 years, people of African ancestry have been seen as less than human because of the lie of White superiority and Black inferiority. That lie was devised to justify the enslavement of African people and the economic exploitation of Africa. It objectified and dehumanized Black, people, and now permeates nearly every institution of global society and the global mind.
Every person of African ancestry born over the course of the last six centuries has come into a world that profoundly devalues our lives. The advantages conferred by “Whiteness” and the disadvantages imposed by “Blackness” have been multiplying for all of that time.
Marches and calls for justice are necessary, but not sufficient to end the relentless assaults on Black bodies, minds, and spirits. Until we, Black people, address the root cause of our dehumanization, the attacks will keep coming.
We need to wage a much larger struggle. We need to heal from and extinguish the lie, and in so doing reclaim our dignity and humanity as people of African ancestry. We call on people of African ancestry and people of good conscience everywhere to join us on the path to creating a new world free of the lie of Black inferiority.
Washington, DC (October 4, 2019)––In the culmination of a high-profile trial, on October 1, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, white woman, was found guilty of murdering Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man who was simply eating a bowl of ice cream in his own apartment. Guyger shot Jean, alleging she thought she had entered into her own apartment, which was actually one flight directly below, and that she feared for her life. Upon being convicted of murder by the jury, Guyger could have been sentenced to up to 99 years in prison. Instead, on October 3, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with the possibility of being paroled after serving only five years. After Guyger’s sentencing, in an unprecedented act, Brandt Jean, the victim’s brother, publicly forgave Guyger and embraced her in the courtroom. That act of forgiveness created a stir in the media and in the Black community.
States Enola Aird, Esq., Founder and President of Community Healing Network (CHN) regarding Guyger’s sentence and her treatment by the court and Jean’s brother :
“We grieve with the Jean family for all that they have been through from the wanton murder of their son in 2018 through this week’s conviction and sentencing of his killer. We stand in solidarity with them as they walk into the future without their beloved Botham.
This case has raised a wide range of emotional issues that point to the pressing need for genuine racial healing.
The shooting itself was a tragic example of the pervasive and implicit anti-Black bias that associates Black people with all things negative.
Even a young Black man sitting peacefully in his own apartment eating ice cream signals danger.
These biases are the source of continuing trauma for Black people because we know that doing anything while Black can be deadly.
Anti-Black racism has proven to be intractable because as a society we have not focused on its root cause: the poisonous idea that Black people are inferior. That lie, devised centuries ago to justify the enslavement and subjugation of African people, objectified, commodified, and dehumanized Black people. It is still very much with us. It is still negatively shaping other people’s perceptions of us and our perceptions of ourselves.
The lie is also at the root of the controversies that caused such a stir in the Black community over the last week as the jury deliberated and handed down the conviction and the sentence against Amber Guyger, the White police officer who killed Jean.
After the reading of the verdict and announcement of the punishment, both the Black judge in the case and Botham Jean’s younger brother were moved to hug Guyger, and a Black woman court officer was seen stroking her hair.
Some people in our community were moved by these displays of forgiveness. Others hit the roof–talking about how painful it was to see Black people giving what some called ‘cheap grace.’ There was talk about internalized racism, Black self-loathing, and the degree to which so many Black people feel compelled to make White people feel comfortable.
Commentator Keith Boykin said it illustrated the fact that the lives of White women are more valuable than the lives of Black men. This is true. All of this consternation underscores the urgent need to confront and extinguish the lie of White superiority and Black inferiority, the root cause of the devaluing of Black lives, once and for all. Only then can there be any hope of intra-racial or inter-racial healing.”
Established in 2006, Community Healing Network (CHN) is a not-for-profit organization based in New Haven, CT. Since CHN was launched, its primary mission has been to actively address the psychological damage that people of African ancestry have suffered because of the centuries-old “lie” that Black people are inferior. CHN, in collaboration with the Association of Black Psychologists, is leading a global movement to train thousands of Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circle support group leaders across the Diaspora to heal the wounds of racism and create a new culture of emotional healing, wellness and empowerment in Black communities. For more information, go to https://www.communityhealingnet.org
We grieve with the Garner family. When Gwen Carr, Mr. Garner’s mother, declared “My son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times, and today we can’t breathe,” she spoke for her family–and for countless Black people across this country. The DOJ dealt a legal blow to the family. But it also struck a psychological blow– to the family–and to the African American community. Ms. Carr has called for “11 days of outrage”—of protests and civil disobedience. And we stand in solidarity with her. We have to continue to fight racial injustices–which are on the rise. But we must do it in ways that do not harm us. he many problems we face as a community are the source of significant racial stress that continues to take a toll on Black people. And outrage can add to that stress and increase the costs to our mental and physical health. That’s why, in addition to public protests and demonstrations, we call on our community to prioritize the work of emotional healing– from the trauma caused by the historical and continued devaluing of Black lives. Join us…
This policy statement should set off alarm bells in the Black community. The nation’s pediatricians are warning us that the health dangers posed to our children by racism ‘have become acute.’ They correctly describe racism as ‘a socially transmitted disease passed down through generations leading to the inequities observed in our population today.’ We as a community, of course, already knew that. The question is: what do we do about it in this new era of White supremacy? The AAP has made a wide range of pretty reasonable recommendations using the usual language from our culture’s standard dictionary on racism, including ‘racial equality,’ ‘racial equity,’ ‘institutional structures,’ and ‘implicit and explicit biases.’ As far as Black children are concerned, however, the pediatricians have failed to come up with a diagnosis and cure that gets to the root of the problem. Their recommendations are essentially more of the same–destined to yield more of the same. In light of the growing crisis facing Black children, we as a community must come up with a more accurate diagnosis and treatment that acknowledges and addresses the root cause of racism against Black children: the myth of Black inferiority. That myth, or as we prefer to call it, the lie, of Black inferiority, was devised centuries ago to justify the enslavement of Black people. It dehumanized Black people and placed us at the bottom rung of humanity. Never mind all the constitutional amendments and legislation aimed at promoting racial equality. The lie continues to negatively affect the world’s perceptions of Black children and Black children’s perceptions of themselves. The lie is at the root of the glaring disparities between Black and White children in health, safety, education, employment, wealth, mass incarceration, and nearly every other area of life. It is the reason why our children’s lives are devalued. The reason why we worry so much about losing them. And unless we insist that pediatricians and everyone else concerned about Black children have the insight and courage to name and address that root cause, our children will continue to be devastated.
Good morning. My name is Enola Aird and I am the founder and president of Community Healing Network.
My first order of business is to recognize and thank the members of the CHN Board of Directors who are here with us today, and to ask them to introduce themselves.
Since 2006, CHN has been building the global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation. We have created a range of strategies to advance the movement, including the Emotional Emancipation Circle, a self-help support group process that we have developed with our wonderful allies at the Association of Black Psychologists, some of whom are also here with us today. I thank them and invite them to introduce themselves as well.
Thank you. I am deeply grateful to you all for everything you have done to advance CHN’s cause.
400 years. Although the precise date has rightly become a matter of dispute, for a long time, August 20, 1619, has been considered to be the date on which the first Africans were forcibly brought onto these shores. They landed at the colony of Virginia in what would become the United States of America.
I stand before you this morning as a mother in the long line of Black mothers who over the course of the last 400 years in the United States – and for more than 600 years across the African Diaspora – have brought our children into a world that profoundly devalues their lives.
I stand before you this morning to say that this horror must end – and that it will end!
It will end because Black mothers and fathers, together with all the other people who are part of the growing global movement for emotional emancipation, are ending it.
Africa is the cradle of human civilization. Yet for centuries, in brutal disregard for the amazing contributions of Africans, this world has objectified, commodified, and dehumanized people of African ancestry. For centuries, Black men, women, and children have been bought and sold, exploited and terrorized, raped and killed.
Our hopes and dreams have been foiled by a global, structural anti-Black racism that has deemed White people to be at the top of the hierarchy of humanity and Black people to be at the very bottom … and, sometimes, even outside of the circle of humanity.
For centuries, our precious children have been declared to be less than: Less beautiful, less lovable, less capable, less intelligent, less worthy, less valuable.
And yet our amazing ancestors, the people who made a way out of no way, emerged from the horrors of enslavement and the terrors of Jim Crow – and even after the official end of these twinned evils, even with racial discrimination persisting until this very minute – Black people have succeeded against the odds.
Yet the lie persists.
We have built families and launched businesses, gained political power, made unparalleled contributions to world culture, risen to the highest seats of government and to the executive suites of major corporations.
Yet the lie persists.
It’s been 400 years in the United States– and we still see glaring racial disparities between Black and White people in health, education, employment, wealth, and nearly every other area of life. Just being Black can be dangerous and even deadly.
A statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, released just two weeks ago, reminds us that racism is having a devastating effect on the health of Black children. Here’s what the pediatricians have to say:
“[T]he stress generated by experiences of racism may start through maternal exposures while in utero and continue after birth with the potential to create toxic stress. This transforms how the brain and body respond to stress, resulting in short- and long-term health impacts on achievement and mental and physical health. We see the manifestations of this stress as preterm births and low birthweights in newborns to subsequent development of heart disease, diabetes and depression as children become adults.”
And although we Black mothers knew this already, this reminder should set off alarm bells in our community.
That’s why, on this 400th anniversary, we are urging Black people everywhere to declare that enough is enough. We must put an end to this man-made disaster.
And the only way to do this is to name and aggressively address the root cause of the dehumanization of Black people. That root cause is the myth – or as I prefer to call it, the lie – of Black inferiority.
The lie was devised centuries ago to justify the enslavement of African people and the exploitation of Africa. And it is still at work today, undermining the quality of our lives.
Don’t you ever wonder why, with all the constitutional amendments and legislation and court decisions aimed at promoting racial equality, the same racial problems persist year after year – and often seem to be getting worse?
It’s because the lie continues to negatively affect the world’s perceptions of Black people and our perceptions of ourselves.
This is why we are here today. We are here to appeal to Africans – to Black people – in the United States, on the African continent, and across the Diaspora, to put the issue of emotional emancipation – of freedom from the lie – at the top of the global African agenda.
We appeal to the United Nations, to the African Union, to the Congressional Black Caucus, and to state and local Black legislative caucuses to include this issue front and center in their deliberations on reparations. We urge them to hold hearings on the continuing impact of the lie on Black children and to develop strategies for healing and freeing them from the lie – once and for all.
We appeal to all Black organizations and faith communities to acknowledge that unless they address this issue of emotional emancipation, their efforts to improve the lot of Black children will continue to yield limited results. We urge them to begin to incorporate into all their work—initiatives aimed at promoting healing from the lie. Because unless and until we take bold steps to free ourselves and our children from the lie, we and our children will continue to be devastated.
We can pay no greater tribute to our ancestors on this 400th anniversary, than to make a break with the source of so much pain and anguish in their lives … and in our lives … and in our children’s lives.
This Valuing Black Lives Summit is part of our Global Truth Campaign and Tour – designed to sound the alarm about the need for healing and ending the trauma caused by the lie and to share the resources of our Emotional Emancipation Circles. This summit is in fact a “mass” Emotional Emancipation Circle, a self-help support group, in the course of which participants will learn new skills to help them heal, and serve as catalysts for healing in their families and communities, with ongoing support from CHN and APBsi.
The great James Baldwin once wrote that “people are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” To which I say to our beloved children: Yes, precious children, we are trapped in a world that still profoundly devalues us, but here is the good news on this 400th anniversary. We are escaping.
“We have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered. Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the white gleam of our bright star is cast. “God of our weary years. God of our silent tears, Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way. Thou who hast by thy might led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray.”
Amen. And Ase.
Dear Sisters and Brothers, good morning. Marcus Garvey said “We have a beautiful history and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world.”
This 2019 Valuing Black Lives Summit is about clearing away the most powerful barrier to that future: the lie of White superiority and Black inferiority. The lie that has for centuries perverted the world’s perceptions of us … and our perceptions of ourselves. That lie is at the root of the devaluing of Black lives, and at the core of every challenge we face as a people.
Africa’s beautiful history was interrupted more than 600 years ago by European invasion and violence. The cradle of human civilization and its precious people were exploited and enslaved to enrich Europe and America.
400 years, beloved. For 400 years in these United States, we, people of African ancestry, have been the subject of derision, of oppression, of terror.
What marvelous things our ancestors did, what marvelous things our generation has done, and what marvelous things our children are doing.
All of these marvelous things, our people have done – with the heavy weight of that lie on our shoulders. On our shoulders … and in our minds and spirits … and in the entire world’s consciousness.
Just imagine for one moment what even more amazing things we and our children will be able to accomplish when we free ourselves from the lie – once and for all.
We at CHN have been looking forward to this day since our founding in 2006. We said then that it was our aim to engage a critical mass of Black people on the journey toward emotional emancipation by August 2019, this 400th anniversary, so that by 2020 we as a people would begin to see ourselves in a whole new light.
We have come to Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy, in August, 2019, to observe the 400th anniversary of the first recorded forced arrival of Africans in the United States. which took place here in Virginia, in August, 1619.
We have come here to Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia, wrote at length about the inferiority of Black people.
We have come to Virginia to declare that we refuse to carry the weight of the lie any longer. We refuse to have it passed on to our children.
We have come to commemorate the past – and to change the trajectory for the future of Black people.
We have come to declare our freedom from the lie.
We have come to honor our ancestors by drawing the line between a past shaped by the lie of Black inferiority and a future defined by the truth of Black humanity.
We have come to appeal to our fellow Africans, across this nation, on our mother continent, and throughout the Diaspora to join us by declaring their freedom from the lie – and by putting the issue of emotional emancipation – true freedom from the lie – at the top of the global African agenda.
And we have come to prepare ourselves to be catalysts for the emotional emancipation, healing, wellness, and empowerment of our children, families, and communities.
As Charlene Phipps, one of the amazing members of our amazing EE Circle family said “Doing this tour is giving people a place to come together and learn, celebrate and so important to connect with what has been, what is, and what is to come because WE OURSELVES made/are making it so.”
This summit is a mass Emotional Emancipation Circle. An Emotional Emancipation Circle – or EE Circle, as we call it – is a self-help support group process originated by Community Healing Network and developed by CHN together with our beloved colleagues at the Association of Black Psychologists, to help Black people heal from, and end, the trauma caused by the lie.
Between today and Thursday, you will learn the basic principles, keys, and tools of the EE Circle process. And when you’re back home, starting in 2020, we’ll be providing you with continuing support through quarterly webinars, so that you can be strong and relentless Emotional Emancipation advocates and activists – sharing the insights, ideas, keys, and skills of the EE Circles process in your day-to-day encounters and by establishing EE Circles in your own communities.
Thank you to each of you for being here with us on this historic occasion.
These are difficult times for Black people. To meet the challenges before us, we need to be at our best, both emotionally and psychologically.
So let me be the first to welcome you to the Valuing Black Lives Summit Emotional Emancipation Circle.
Our guide during the next three days will be our dear Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills, the leader of our Global EE Circle Training Team. She will begin this morning by teaching us the Seven Agreements and the Seven Keys for emotional emancipation, and important emotional wellness skills that we hope you will use and share with everyone you know.
But before we get to Dr. Grills, let me say a word of thanks to the Association of Black Psychologists – for the wonderful work that they do, for their steadfast support of the work of Community Healing Network, and, in particular, for providing their professional expertise to help us help our community heal. During the past seven years, CHN and ABPsi have forged a truly extraordinary collaboration. Our alliance has been characterized by good will, dedication, hard work, an easygoingness, a complete lack of drama, and a shared and profound love for Black people.
It is therefore my privilege to introduce you to Dr. Huberta Jackson Lowman, president of the Association of Black Psychologists.