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Moving from Race to Culture

Toward Collective Healing and Cultural Wellness

The founders and faculty of the Cultural Wellness Center believe that at the core of well-being are relationship, kinship circles, self-knowledge, and the capacity to produce knowledge that is informed by cultural ways of knowing. From the linkages between these, a beautiful web of activity is formed to create community naturally.

Atum AzzahirFounder of the Cultural Wellness Center

Our work at the Cultural Wellness Center is to move from race to culture. In this word, we are moving toward the recognition of our hearts and our souls as a human collective, as human beings, as representatives of what humanity is to the harmonious functioning of the planet. Cultural Wellness is an approach to study culture as a resource. The resources embedded in culture for each of us, help us to understand the ways in which we view the world as racialized beings or cultural beings. Cultural Self-Study unearths for us the ways of our people and the ways we express the seen and the unseen, the visible and the invisible parts of our people’s knowledge systems. Thinking is how a people create and imagine life for themselves. Thinking is how we imagine life for other people. It is a people’s thinking where we imagine how to create well-being on the planet.

The study of Cultural Wellness leads to the practice of community ritual and ceremonies. In practicing rituals, we will remember how it feels to express empathy. We value empathy because it allows us to experience feeling a sense of love from ourselves. As we study the rituals and the practices of these rituals, we will create community ceremonies across the continuum of life and death. Community ceremonies help us to remember that ancient ways of our people. Ceremonies teach us to see how life and death are connected to one another and only separated by the objectification of time. Ceremonies teach us the importance of remembering all of our humanities are tied together. And as we study ourselves, we will remember the importance of sharing the expressions of life that have been transformed by that which is not visible with our physical eyes.

As I study at the Cultural Wellness Center, I have learning telling myself the truth is the first step in recovery as a sense of personal humanity. We are learning to see beyond the pain in order to see the gift in learning how to be a better human being. Being better is what Cultural Wellness is about for me. Each of us is learning at our own pace what is means to live or have a better life. I have come to realize that we do not have to be at war with the reflection of ourselves we see as we move through the world. However, as we examine the difficult places, we have been we have to also be willing to discover our journey towards healing together. It is vital to the healing of humanity that we study ourselves in ways that allow us to transform the pain of our experiences into knowledge. The knowledge we produce together is what will guide our collective futures.

The first step of Cultural Wellness for me to consider the capacity to heal (to be or become better) – as an individual and as a community. Telling the truth to myself was the next step towards family and community healing. As we consider the capacity to be better, to become better, we are learning to face the pain in our collective lives. We all must remember the practices, rituals, and ceremonies of our people. As we relearn the ways of our people, we will begin to see the benefit of culture as a resource. Cultural Wellness gives us the ability to see what might be considered limits of being human. And at the same time, can allow you to see where there are no limits in our hearts, minds, and spirits.

What we hold in our hearts is the medicine that will allow humanity to heal. This healing can only happen through the practice of studying and producing knowledge from the experiences as we gather. Gathering as a community will teach us to create a sense of balance, rightness, and justice for ourselves. What we know about ourselves will be the true test of our healing. Healing in this way is an internal process. It forces each of us to study our hearts and minds. As I consider that move from race to culture and journey toward a collective thinking, I am left with two questions. Can we be better human beings? Can we change the ways we relate to each other and the planet?

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