Summit encourages Black women's mental health.

 Summit encourages Black women's mental health

On Friday morning in the USC Village, forty to fifty Black women and nonbinary students echoed the affirmation, "Siss, you are a vision of cherished Blackness." Brinell Lynn Anderson, professor of clinical education at Rossier School of Education, led the affirmation that marked the beginning of the "Sisters in Solidarity Summit."

Supporting and promoting the mental health of Black women at USC, the summit was organized by the Center for Black Students and Cultural Affairs. Together with the Department of Psychiatry, Viterbi School of Engineering, USC Black Alumni Association, and Alpha Kappa Alpha, the CBCSA hosted the event.

The CBCSA was established in 1977 by the Department of Campus Life to act as a liaison between the University and services geared to the Black community. Primarily, the group seeks to retain Black students and provide them with the tools essential for academic achievement. The event is the CBCSA's second of its sort, after a mental summit for men conducted in the spring.

Each of the three sessions, which were separated by an opening keynote speaker, focused on a particular facet of Black women's mental health experiences on campus.

Anderson, the keynote speaker, encouraged guests to consider their motivations for attending the summit, whether it was a recent hardship or a desire for "the sister connection."

The focus of Anderson's address was "a vision of your cherished Blackness's health via the prism of the dimensions of your African identities." She acknowledged the burden of racial trauma on Black women, both individually and collectively, but urged the audience to see these experiences as a small aspect of a much more complex identity.

"Our history did not begin with oppression," stated Anderson. "Our narrative did not start with our abduction. Our narrative did not start with the Middle Passage. Our history did not start with slavery, reconstruction, terror, lynchings, or Jim Crow. Our history did not begin with the oppression we see in present times, such as police brutality and mass imprisonment injustices. No, we are a culture-rich people from the homeland."

Anderson invited the audience to see their "African identities" in four dimensions: the individual self, the social self, the tribe self, and the divine self.

As she explored the "social self," or components of identity-related to individuals such as families and friends, Anderson emphasized the significance of building connections that enable people to express their genuine and best selves.

"The beauty of this dimension is that we may build relationships that benefit us and let go of those that consume us," stated Anderson.

Anderson also developed the "tribal self," or the ancestry-based aspect of identity. Anderson said that rituals are a popular means of affirming one's tribal identity, and then led the group in a libation ceremony to commemorate their ancestors. As Anderson poured libations, the crowd screamed out the names of ancestors, answering each with the word "ashy," which means "thus it is."

Following the keynote talk, guests participated in a one-hour sound bath led by Bloom Holistic Healing, a Los Angeles-based group that promotes natural healing via sound baths and breathwork. Participants lay on yoga mats while the Bloom team guided them through meditation and relaxation activities. Instruments like crystal bowls, Tibetan gongs, rain sticks, and Koshi chimes were used to produce high-frequency sounds as a crucial component of the procedure.

"The sound bath aroused so many latent portions of my body," said Sasha Lawrence, a sophomore psychology student who participated in the event. "The sound bath interacts with your body's many energy centers, and I felt mine come to life, which was incredible."

As a Black woman, it might be tough to have "any experience with mental health," according to Lawrence, who noted that mental illness is often stigmatized in the Black community. She said that she thinks summits such as Friday's break down some of the obstacles to necessary dialogue.

Lawrence said, "People do not encourage you to express your emotions, weep, or be vulnerable." "Black women are always expected to be strong, which is really irritating because you can only bear the weight of the world for so long before you break. It has been difficult to locate places where I feel safe discussing my mental health. But this is precisely why we've established all of these things: so that individuals may put ancestral pain behind and go on."

Lawrence said that she prioritizes meditation, time in outdoors, and exploring flea markets for self-care.

Following USC Student Health's Counseling and Mental Health services' facilitation of small group conversations on stereotypes of Black femininity, the summit reconvened for a final panel on mental health beyond college. Culver City Councilwoman Yasmine-Iman McMorrin, former Marshall School of Business professor and director of global inclusion at Creative Arts Agency Sharoni Little, and Dr. "Sunshine" Shalonda K. Crawford were among the panelists.

Crawford tried to alter the traditional conception and stereotype of "powerful Black women" throughout the conversation.

Crawford said, "When we discuss powerful Black women, there are unreasonable expectations that we must meet." "I believe that many of us are carrying beyond reason and navigating life while shattered, overburdened, exhausted, and smiling."

Milan Fritz, senior studying neuroscience and an undergraduate prospective adviser for CBSCA, shared Crawford's apprehension over the stereotype.

"The notion that Black women must be tough is a huge stigma in contemporary culture, and you're not permitted to express our softer side. Fritz said, "We must maintain a persona and impression that we are powerful and capable of anything."

Little discussed her inability to concentrate as a student at the University, which ultimately put her on academic probation, throughout her address. After completing a year of early high school in Compton, California, she started pursuing her university degree at the age of 16. She said that although her academic ability was evident, her mental aptitude was not yet sufficiently developed.

"I was still intelligent, but it had nothing to do with my academic prowess. Little said, "It was about doing what I needed to do, but I was not developmentally prepared." "Sometimes, we're in circumstances where we're not quite there yet, but we push through anyhow... Avoid doing it to yourself."

All three presenters also highlighted their hardships and disappointments over the years, as well as how they have overcome these obstacles in their current endeavors.

McMorrin said, "I began counseling in law school when I realized, 'Oh, I need some skills in here.'" "Therapy is a significant part of who I am, and the culmination of this journey and the work I continue to do is this."

Courtney King, a community health activist and graduate student in public policy, said that her Arizona State University experiences and hardships inform her present work.

"We're going to place kids in leadership positions so they can feel like leaders, but we're not going to listen to them," added King. "When I arrived here as a graduate student, I truly wanted to contribute to the development of undergraduate experiences."

Throughout the semester, the CBSCA will continue to deliver mental health outreach activities, including their biweekly "Health is Wealth" series.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post