Racial discrimination isn’t just harmful as it happens—its effects can linger for years. Tufts researchers recently found that people exposed to racial discrimination during early childhood were more likely to develop cardiovascular health issues compared to those who never experience discrimination, or who experienced discrimination later in life.
One of the most dynamic conversations taking place in and around fields of health and wellbeing is to what extent does racism contribute to the health and wellbeing of an individual across a lifetimes. For African living in the diaspora, and specifically in diaspora spaces largely constructed by colonial paradigms in place to protect and uphold white identity and whiteness through acts of physical and psychic assaults on black and brown bodies.
Researchers are gathering new evidence on the effects of experiences of racism and when along the life course these experiences are most detrimental. Read more below:
By Dominique Ameroso June 13, 2019
“Racial discrimination isn’t just harmful as it happens—its effects can linger for years. Tufts researchers recently found that people exposed to racial discrimination during early childhood were more likely to develop cardiovascular health issues compared to those who never experience discrimination, or who experienced discrimination later in life.” Click to Read More!
My Sarong Sisters and The Sacred Sarong Sisterhood
Author: Melissa Barber
Happy Eighth Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, I give thanks for my “sarong” sisters and friends around the globe who do the wonderful work of saving the lives of women and babies.
If you were part of last year’s journey, you’d remember that on Day 25, I told you about my kick behind sisterhood of women (and men) from the Birthing Project USA, who is building our national and international underground railroad for new life, saving women and their babies. (If you missed it, don’t worry! You can buy the book, which is in the publisher’s hands as I write and will be released soon enough, to catch up.) What I didn’t tell you is that, during our annual conferences our sisterhood has a secret, special ceremony. (I won’t tell you the details of our ceremony-nosey!- because then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.)
Close your eye. (Of course, after you read this paragraph.) Just trust me! Imagine walking into a room that is decorated with a huge circle of chairs. Each chair is filled with one sarong with the most beautiful color patterns that you have ever seen. You are bound to find one with your favorite color or colors in it which perfectly match with an outfit or coat of yours. The sarongs are made of a thin layer of the most fluid cotton material that waves with the ocean breeze. Some of them even have an added finishing touch of frills. Within the circle of chairs, you see at least two or a maximum of three sarongs that match each other. You have no idea what to expect because you have no idea what the details of the ceremony are but you just feel a nostalgia of excitement in anticipation of what’s next, hoping that what’s next is that you get to choose which chair (with your favorite sarong) you can sit in.
What you don’t know is that you have to choose your chair (and sarong) wisely. When you choose to sit in a seat with a particular sarong, that sarong is choosing your soul SisterFriend for life. Your soul SisterFriend is the soldier with whom you will walk out life. Not only will you save other women and babies together, but you will grow together, pray for each other, and do ministry together. You will give each other advice, wise counsel, and even help raise family together. You will be anything, everything, and sometimes all things to hold up the arms of your sister and give her strength. The Sarong Sisterhood is a sacred sisterhood whose mission is binding. (So choose wisely!)
I met my first sarong sister (I think over seven years now) and we are exactly like what I have described to each other. We live in two different time zones and have a great physical distance from each other, but in the business of our lives we make sure that we do life together. I’m pretty sure we’ll keep doing life together until one of us takes our last breath. She is superwoman! She holds down full time ministry, her full-time job, her earring making side hustle (she loves big earrings like me!), and her husband and five children, two of which just got sent off to college. She manages to empower women and girls every day while still looking like she is not a day older than twenty five. (She is my inspiration.)
Every annual conference that I have gone to, without her there, she makes sure (basically, threatens) that I don’t bring our sarong to gift to another SisterFriend (sorry Mama that sarong is on lock!) During last year’s ceremony, I was so proud of myself. I was able to let go (you all know my issues with letting go already from Day 9 of last year’s journey. If not, you gotta get the book!) and gift my second favorite sarong to a new international soul SisterFriend. When I explained to her the importance and sacredness of our sarong sisterhood and what that sarong meant to me, she pledged to take good care of our sarong and continue to do the bad-ass work she is doing with her sister, Ms. Zubaida Bai, at the company AYZH. They provide thousands of Safety Birth Kits to women in the most remote places in the world so that they can give birth to healthy babies in non-sterile conditions. A SafeBirth kit is a small pocketbook that contains all the essential medical supplies (a plastic mat, gloves, soap, razor, and clamp) which allow for a clean, safe, childbirth when there may be no hospitals around for miles.(Remember this work is important because every two minutes, 60 women die in childbirth due to unsanitary conditions and infections.) I know that my new international sarong sister (soul Sisterfriend) is upholding and uplifting the sacredness of our Sarong Sisterhood tradition of loving and saving women and children’s lives wherever she is in the world. And I’m proud to be her Sarong Sister. Today as I give thanks for my sarong sisters and pay homage to our sacred sarong sisterhood, I’m sure you have already guessed that I am highlighting the Birthing Project USA: The Underground Railroad for Life (Birthing Project USA) Birthing Project USAWe envision a world in which we have the freedom to define ourselves, birth our babies, and live our healthiest …
I am asking that each of you sponsors at least one SafeBirth Kit for $5 (a cup of coffee) so that a baby somewhere in the world can enjoy a safe, healthy entry into his/her life.
The story of the (still unfolding) life of an African-American woman living in the predominantly white worlds of ballet, modern dance, and Broadway, while facing challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs as she attempts to shatter the stereotypically classical mold and celebrate her evolution into an unapologetic body, (Francesca Harper).
“The fact is, White supremacy defines our current reality. It is not merely a belief that to be White is to be better. It is a political, cultural and economic system premised on the subjugation of people who are not White. That subjugation takes on an infinite number of forms and is enforced with varying degrees of physical violence, mental abuse and robbery. White supremacy is the voice in our collective heads that says it makes civilized sense that one group of people gets to annihilate, enslave, incarcerate, brainwash, torture, sterilize, breed and terrorize other people. White supremacy establishes, upholds and normalizes hierarchy based on the premise that the less Black you are the closer you are to God.”
“[T]his is a book about freedom dreams. We’re well aware of the problems we’re buried beneath. We can feel the weight of them on our limbs, the heft of them in our abdomens as our second brains gnaw on the indignity of it all. But what does it look like for Black people to claw our way to fresh air? What does freedom feel like? How does it taste on the tongue? For some folks in this book, it feels like raising kids who gleefully take up space for themselves. For others, it looks like providing the tools we need to triumph over race-based trauma. There’s the pastor who envisions a day when following his radical, dark-skinned Jesus who always sides with the dispossessed will lift us out of this hole, and the organizer who can almost smell the sharp aroma of reforming the nation’s political system. And we can’t forget the professor who dreams of the day when we can bring our full selves to every table.”
Excerpted from “How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance” by Kenrya Rankin and Akiba Solomon, available now.
Among the things I consider urgent in 2019 the re-visioning of the ways in which the Black Religions and Black religious traditions respond to the lives, needs and concerns of of those most vulnerable in their congregations and in society as a whole. Note: I hadn’t intended this to be my first post of 2019, but I had scheduled the post many weeks ago and quite literally forgot about it. At the end of 2018 I posted the reflections of my friend Melissa as she journeyed through her annual 30 days of Thanks. Though Melissa had ritually for years conducted similar journeys, she had always done so privately. For 2018 she went public, sharing her journey with friends and making suggestions for financial activism. With her permission I posted her journey, delivering a different type of public sharing than she initially imagined, but one in which she embraced.
Melissa’s journey is thought-provocation and riveting, challenging notions of faith, religion adherence, and hope in brutally honest ways. In calling out the Black church and Black spirituality in contemporary society, Melissa challenged the Black church while calling on its legacy of resilience and hope in her work to move forward to build a better world for herself, her daughter, and her community of diverse fellows. Simply put she is demanding a that the legacy that served to make her, serves to make her, and others who are of it, better.
I understand Melissa’s call. For several years I have been in a spiritual research, learning ,and sharing mode, eking out deep knowledge from the backwaters of spiritual masters in order to help nourish the mammoth of spiritual waves necessary to heal and nurture a people in these times. I have sat at the feet, tables, and in the pews of those promising to teach more than preach, question more than answer, build more that present. And, I have attended conferences in which academic knowledge is matched with embodied inquiry and/or seek to explain or examine intersections of spirituality, The church, and Blackness. The March of 2018 Black Religions, Spirituality and Culture Conference at Harvard was one such conference.
In 2019 the challenge of putting the knowledge gained to work is at hand. Not just for me, but for all those like myself who have been preparing, hoping, praying. The time is at hand and the need is great. My hopes of goodwill and kindness goes out to all, especially Melissa.
The podcast is here! It’s the Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), Tribute aired Wednesday, September 26, 2018 on AfroBeat Radio. Now you can listen to an edited version of the Tribute. Enjoy as DTH’s Artistic Director, Virginia Johnson and former dancers Karen Brown, Dr. Adesola Akinleyke, Dion Wilson, and Lorraine Grave share their life as dancers, students, and mentees pay tribute to the late Arthur Mitchell!
Sunday, January 14, 2018, 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center
“Conceived by choreographer Camille A. Brown in 2014 and presented in partnership with Dance/NYC, The Gathering serves as an open forum for intergenerational black female artists to support one another and to advocate for greater cultural equity and acknowledgment in the contemporary dance world. ”