written by Black Women Healing Retreats
Healing is an ongoing lifetime journey; the healing of Black people is especially necessary. As we know, Black people have endured traumatic circumstances due to slavery. Perhaps you are a person who believes slavery has had no affect on the Black psyche. To gain more education and perspective about the intergenerational impact of slavery, one must look at racism through facts. Racism isn't solely based on feelings, opinions or emotions. It is a system based on factual history of the past, present and can statistically predict the future. To understand systemic oppression, one must remove their personal opinions and view it through facts.
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a prestigious African American psychiatrist expressed in her work time and time again, that racism is the cause of most mental illnesses. In her studies she found that the root of mental illnesses is and has always been racism, and that the root of day-to-day problems for black people stems from living in a capitalistic racist society. She discovered that although white folks are no longer legally slave masters, a slave master mentality still lingers. This is why the healing of Black people is crucial.
When we think of healing, we usually think of healing from a relationship or a hurtful friendship, but healing has layers, and the deeper we go, we learn that in order to heal. You must heal the culture. The more you heal and understand the culture, the more you can heal those hurtful relationships, friendships and yourself, because it's all connected. Throughout history, black people have been conditioned to believe that they are inferior. School systems provide very little or institutionalized education on the history of black people. Therefore, to be a black student without education about who you really are means that you will view the world through a eurocentric lens. This is detrimental to us as people of African descent. Black people have been so removed from their culture that many don’t associate Africa with blackness. Yet, wherever you go, whether you are from the Caribbean, the United States, or anywhere else on the planet, you are still an African. Kwame Nkrumah said it best: “I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because africa was born in me.”
Part of the effect of slavery has taught black people today to utilize eurocentric solutions to their problems. Subconsciously, some Black people may trust white folks more than their own. Instead of helping to build our own tables, many black people are elated to have a seat at the table in predominantly white spaces, without realizing this is an extension of white supremacy. For example, a lot of black people get upset about lack of diversity and inclusion; they feel as though they want to see more widespread inclusion of black people. However, if you go a little deeper, you’ll see that diversity and inclusion still means that black people are in a eurocentric setting, while receiving the crumbs. This is not equality; this is a product of white supremacy.
Internalized racism goes much deeper than Black people disliking their own hair textures or feeling more comfortable in white dominated settings. Internalized racism, like white supremacy, is an entire system. Internalized racism colonizes the mind to believe that anything in proximity to whiteness is what’s best. This colonization of the mind has been the cause of much oppression in the Black community. The first law of man is survival, which is to preserve his (her or their) own race. If Black people are constantly investing outside of themselves, how will they preserve and progress their own community? This is why healing is needed.
When Black people heal, they must prioritize that their healing be received by a black person, especially because racism is the root of society's problems. Black people have been healers since the beginning of time. Our ancestors used rituals, worked with one another, trusted in nature, and used herbs to heal the nation. Today, there are many Black psychiatrists that work to heal the oppression of Black people.
Unlearning white supremacy and colonization reminds us that the deeper we go into our history, the Blacker God gets. When we see ourselves in the Divine and trust in our community, not only do we heal our spirits; we take another step towards progression, love and unity. Here are ten books by Black authors that every Black person interested in healing the mind, body, and spirit should read:.
1. Opening To Spirit: Contacting the Healing Power of the Chakras and Honouring African Spirituality by Caroline Shola Arewa: This is a well written and informative book that focuses on the Indian and African Chakra System. It’s one of the only books that gives a clear understanding of the chakra system and the elements, while intertwining African and Indian origins. It encourages the reader to heal through spirituality.
2. The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing: This book is a collection of essays by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a psychiatrist specializing in general and child psychiatry. The essays focus on the global system of white supremacy and strategies for coping with racism in modern society.
3. The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community by Malidoma Patrice Somé: This book takes you on a journey through West Africa with the Dagara tribe. It focuses on three major parts of healing: community, nature, and ritual. Malidoma emphasizes the many ways people have been disconnected from their ancestral practices and encourages us to trust in nature and the spiritual realm for healing. This book brings ancestral wisdom and teachings of healing and ritual from the heart of Africa to the western world.
4. The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships by Sobonfu Somé: Simply and beautifully, this book reveals the role of spirit in every marriage, friendship, relationship, and community. This book shares ancient ways to make our intimate lives more fulfilling and secure and offers powerful insights into the "illusion of romance," divorce, and loss.
5. The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. by Chancellor Williams: This book took 16 years for Chancellor Williams to write. It is a breakdown of Black civilization, and anyone interested in going deeper into the history of Black people should read this.
6. Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit by Queen Afua: This guide teaches women how to heal themselves through womb healing. It teaches you how to create an altar, how to connect to your spirit guides, and explores a lot of African spirituality that can be applied to Black women everywhere
7. African Holistic Health by Dr. Llaila O. Afrika is the first major book to address health issues from a comprehensive African-centered viewpoint. African Holistic Health helps you learn about holistic sex laws, self diagnosis, disease treatments, the danger of commercial foods, and much more.
8. Assata An Autobiography by Assata Shakur: This book is an autobiography of Assata Shakur, a black revolutionary and member of the Black Panther Movement who is now living in Cuba, where she has political asylum. The book tells the often shocking yet inspiring story of Assata's life up to her arrest and eventual escape to Cuba.
9. Falling Out of Grace: Meditations on Loss, Healing and Wisdom by Sobonfu Somé: This is a beautifully written book that embraces the mistakes we make in life. It reminds the reader that every mistake is simply a lesson that can be turned into a blessing. It focuses on forgiving yourself and being okay with not being perfect and “falling out of grace.
10. Melanin: What Makes Black People Black by Dr. Llaila O. Afrika: In this book, Dr. Llaila Afrika breaks down exactly what melanin is, the scientific importance of it, and how to protect and nourish your melanin. He discusses melanin on both a scientific and practical level.