Brother George Floyd’s public murder is reviving memories of “strange fruits,” as described by Nina Simone in the sixties. It feels raw and sore, specific to this moment. The scene is the latest dramatization of a 401-year-old memorialized wound inflicted over and over again on Black men and women in America.
The Coronavirus exacerbated preexisting conditions of injustices in housing, economics, education and healthcare in Black communities across the United States. The New York Times article “The Pandemic and the Protest: Police brutality, job losses, the coronavirus: Black Americans are bearing the brunt of all of it,” noted:
- “The historical data also reveal that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years,” wrote the economists Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike I. Steins in their analysis of U.S. incomes and wealth since World War II.
- “Counties with disproportionately high Black populations across the country account for more than half of the country’s coronavirus cases and nearly 60 percent of death, according to a national study by an AIDS research group.”
Wealth inequity is tied to these preexisting conditions because preexistence assumes that a person’s existence begins at the consummation of health insurance coverage, according to Jonathan Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland.
Over the past two weeks, the Cultural Wellness Center continued our 24–year history as a community first responder offering personal comforting and psychological first aide.
Our practitioner/faculty presence is often invisible; elders’ wisdom provides anchoring as people process what’s happening and the impact on them to reassure belonging and cultural survival.
We join you in taking action through our cultural health practices:
- to mourn the loss of a loved one as healing for the living and the dead. We mourn by walking the streets marching, while observing a worldwide processional of people grieving for our Brothers and Sisters whose lives have been unjustly taken.
- to create altars for praying in our chosen religious beliefs and customs and listen to our inner selves — and we will listen with you any time you reach out
- to hear and support your wailing to the heavens for relief. We have all witnessed a great trauma within our community. We seek to work through this with you so we no longer take the pain from one experience to another — you deserve to be free to feel your most authentic self.
These and our other cultural health practices give people opportunities to heal together during these changing times.
Now is the time to mobilize around our mission: to unleash the power of citizens to heal themselves and build community.
We need to mobilize ourselves and others who see the inherent value of our experience and knowledge. We need to move beyond approaches designed to “help,” as they lead to keeping us where we are. Instead, we need to change the root of the system to value our cultural knowledge and contribution.
We must strengthen our collective cultural wellness.
All people have culture, and we must use it as a source of strength, connection and belonging. We must move from Race to Culture, because rituals, practices and philosophies bind us together and create the support networks we need to make real and lasting changes for ourselves, our families and community.
PS – Many of you often ask how you can help us. Here are specific and immediate ways: