WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a world where black lives are devalued and the tension between people of color and police officers are at an all-time high, it is only fitting that opportunities are created to share in their celebration. Recently, the Community Healing Network, Inc, in partnership with The Association of Black Psychologists, did just that.
Valuing Black Lives: The Annual Global Emotional Emancipation Summit was two days of framing, group discussions and collective reasoning invoked by the spirit of healing and forgiveness. The session took place at the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus’ Legislative Event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Over 100 people filled the room to take in the sounds of poetry, music and drumming as a local ensemble serenaded the space with healing music followed by a forgiveness ritual.
“With God’s Grace, I erase this space,” was the chant that headed the healing. Everyone in the room was invited to the front of the room to wash their bad deeds away or write down on a piece of paper the things they wanted to be forgiven for. Droves of people flooded the front in an effort to reconcile and make good with their ancestors and all those who they have hurt. This action was symbolic to the healing that is needed in the African American community at large.
After the intense healing ritual, framers, people put on panels to set the thematic framework for the small group deliberations, took the stage. The first discussion was set to give a panoramic view of the origin and effects, and a beginning analysis of the lies of white superiority and black inferiority. Europeans of African descent gave their accounts of the racism, injustice and the mistreatment of Africans in their countries.
“The same things that we see happening in America are happening to Africans in Europe,” explained Momodou Jallow, a framer of Gambian descent living in Sweden.
From the start of the first panel discussion, the session kicked into high gear. The panelists soon switched their focus from the negative impacts of white superiority to calling for a new narrative.
“We no longer wish to perform to the master’s script. We don’t want our children to be imprisoned by that script,” declared A.J Johnson, moderator and founder of Symphonic Strategies. “We are here to declare that we will do the work to write a new script.”
After two hours of panel discussions the groups gathered in their circles to discuss the questions presented to them based on the framers presentations.
The second day had a similar flow, minus the musical ensemble. Framers took the stage to speak on everything from lies that have been propagated and why and how the lies persist to creating a shared vision: imagining a future in which black lives are valued. Framers discussed how psychology, media, religion and education contribute to the persistence of lies that have imprisoned African people for generations.
Erika Totten, a framer, community activist and founder of Unchained LLC, presented a different perspective to what is seen as the barriers to moving the African American community forward. She shared a personal and deeply emotional story about being inappropriately fondled by a black man during the end of a healing circle following a protest.
As tears streamed down her face, she hurtfully exclaimed, “We are fighting for the same people who are victimizing us.”
Her pain presented to the session a realness, a reality that cannot be overlooked. The remnants of patriarchy and sexual objectification play a huge role in the prevention of healing as a people.
During the session ageism was also played out when an older woman was unmoving in her disdain for any potential solutions presented by a younger person and the war on individualism vs. collectivism surfaced and demonstrated that though the enemy lurks outside, he also lurks within.
Throughout the two day session, lots of thought provoking information was brought to the table, potential solutions were presented and everyone left knowing there was a great deal of work to do.