By Charmain F. Jackman, PhD
June 19, 1865, is an important day in history in which enslaved African Americans were informed of their freedom, a day celebrated and identified as Juneteenth. For the first time this year, Juneteenth will be recognized as a federal holiday. The Black community has continued to cope with life’s various challenges relentlessly. The Black community’s resiliency stems from the power of connectedness, solidarity, and perseverance.
Check out 5 culturally-relevant healing strategies:
Engage in Body-Based Work – The mind and body holds our trauma. Learn and develop strategies that engage the body and connect back to your roots. A great way to release the trauma is through movement. Excellent examples of movement include African dance, stepping, wukking up, twerking, or any dance that allows you to sway your hips and move your body to melodic sounds. Dance has been a staple of the Black community from the beginning of time and continues to serve as a critical healing tool.
Build Community – We thrive better together, rather than alone! Proactively and intentionally connect with others in your community. Connectedness promotes positive overall well-being and solidarity. Also, the community serves as the conduit for connectedness with other individuals in your village. Great support groups that are culturally relevant and promote collective healing include healing circles and emotional emancipation circles.
Speak Up – There is power in your voice and in hearing the voice of others. Use your voice through vehicles such as protesting, activism, storytelling, spoken word, or to convey an invaluable message via a podcast. Another way to connect with the voice of others is through conscious music from artists from the Bob Marley era, Calypso by Caribbean artists like Gabby and Red Plastic Bag that address social issues that impact the country in a given time.
Celebrate as an Act of Resistance – You are not going to take my joy! Maya Angelou stated, “ in the struggle lies the joy.” Finding and maintaining joy is a radical act. As the summer approaches, within your own level of comfort, find reasons to gather and celebrate your life, your community, and the progress we are making in this struggle. Whether it is coming together for a family reunion, BBQ, block parties, book clubs, or over a game of dominos, we encourage you to celebrate each other with laughter and fellowship.
Share Your Story - Gather with friends, family, and loved ones to engage in intimate discussions and share stories that can heal you and your community. There is something deeply profound about listening closely to someone as they share their story. In sharing our stories, we are allowed the opportunity to connect beyond the surface and to connect with other who may have shared experiences.
Make this Juneteenth a beautiful and memorable occasion! Be intentional about how you celebrate, and use this opportunity to share stories about struggle and or triumph! The resiliency that the Black community continues to display deserves much praise and admiration.
In the comments section below, let us know which activity you plan to engage in honor of Juneteenth. We would love to hear from you!
Dr. Jackman is a Harvard-trained licensed Psychologist with over 23 years of experience in the mental health field. She is a national spokesperson on mental health and advocates for mental health equity for people of color. Dr. Jackman consults with corporations on the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion, mental health, and employee wellness. She is the founder and CEO of InnoPsych, Inc,. an organization on a mission to disrupt racial inequities in mental health.