The Shift Catalyst – African American History Month
By Nadirah Adeye, Faculty Relations Manager
At the start of every year, I get together with a group of friends for the first full moon of January. At that annual gathering we eat and laugh and connect, and then ritually set our goals and intentions for the coming year, dreaming magnificent and daunting dreams for our lives. We have been doing this for several years now — and we always begin the gathering with an oral overview of the history of why we get together and a celebration of what we have created in our lives as a result.
Collectively, we have manifested homes, travel and adventure, partnerships, children, careers, promotions and raises, health goals, and acts of public engagement, service, and visibility. To me though, what is most important is that we are a group of women of color (mostly black women) striving for success and dreaming our dreams and holding one another accountable in a culture that does not always do that for us or see that in us.
We challenge one another to go beyond what we think we can do. We call out when we see each other playing small or forgetting our greatness. We encourage everyone who attends and participates to boldly claim what she most wants for her life and then to go for that vision as though failure does not exist.
Although we live in a world that, in general, does not value girls, I have been fortunate to grow up in a generation that has emphasized female leadership, drive, and success throughout my educational experiences. Similarly, though we live in a world that does not value Blackness, black parents begin to inculcate their children with a vision for their own potential for greatness from a very early age and my parents were no different. As a result of these experiences, I often felt that I could and would succeed at accomplishing my dreams because my experiences of being Black and female (and the strengths I gained by facing the associated obstacles of each) were paths to greatness.
One of the commitments I’ve made this year, as part of my annual goal of kindness and gentleness to myself, is to be rigorous and discerning about the content that I take into my consciousness and the people with whom I spend time (including the spiritual communities I visit). I've been paying attention to how often I see Black women shown in inspiring, motivating, and even aspirational images of joy, beauty, success, peace, and living well.
I've also been paying attention to the frequency with which I see images of Black women, children, and families used to further a narrative generated by people who do not seem to have a love for Blackness. I’m paying attention to stories that choose to show us perpetually struggling and depressed and defeated and, unless there’s a valuable reason for those images (for instance — what is the associated call to action?), I’m turning them off.
This year, this Black History Month, I am remembering that magic is real. Visibility matters and images of Black Excellence are important for all of us to see, celebrate, and honor. I celebrate the greatness of the activists who keep reminding us that Black Lives Matter, in the face of the climate of the world around us.
I celebrate Black Women like Dianne Bondy, who remind us that yoga is for everybody and that self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. I celebrate the magnificence of musicians like Damien Escobar, whose fusion of hip-hop sounds and classical violin training creates a glorious musical experience that moves the bodies of his listeners and causes involuntary hand motions.
And I celebrate the unnamed and unknown Black Women voters whose engagement and actions in the last year have reminded us, collectively, of the power that comes with engaging in the political process. For a joyful and pleasurable conclusion, I eagerly anticipate the upcoming release of the new film, Black Panther, I’m already overflowing at the thought of seeing black people cast as powerful, radiant, glorious, and magnificent superheroes.
In honor of African American History Month, we’d love to hear your answer to the question, What example of Black excellence in any sphere of influence have you celebrated recently? To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.
We are saddened to report that Gilberto Arias, a highly respected Indigenous elder, has left this world. We had filmed an interview with don Gilberto at the Indigenous Summit of Americas (Cumbre de Abya Yala) in Panama City in April 2015.
don Gilberto Arias
Don Gilberto was Guna, an Indigenous people who reside primarily in Panama. His name in Guna is Olonaidiguiña, which translates to Great Golden Shark.
During the filming of this session (which was translated for you from Guna to Spanish to English), the room filled with many people hungry to hear the words of don Gilberto, a well-known and beloved leader. As an “argar” — an interpreter and counselor of traditional Guna knowledge — he was the last living of his kind and deeply respected far and wide. In this session, he shares stories with Brother Phil Lane and talks about the future. Click here to watch and listen to this remarkable human being, who shared so many important messages with the world.
In this video, she offers a brilliant and thought-provoking exploration on the America we think know and the radical deconstruction of the American Dream. She asks us to consider that the American Dream has in fact been a nightmare for all non-Caucasian individuals throughout our country's history. What is the America that leaves no one behind? Let us vision and create a brave, inclusive, new American Dream.
Click here to watch and listen to this Vision 2020 Summit 2017 talk.
Reverend Kevin Kitrell Ross, or RevKev as he is affectionately known, serves as senior minister of Unity of Sacramento.
In this video, he delivers a super-charged talk founded on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., emphasizing that we need to be focused on accelerating change in our communities and becoming part of the solution in our unique and individual way. Following this 9-minute talk is a lively and spirited mini-concert by the Expressions of Unity Choir. Be prepared to be inspired, uplifted, and moved to act. It's time to shine!
Click here to watch and listen to this Vision 2020 Summit 2017 talk.
Winner of the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Instructional
Forbidden to attend school in her rural Zimbabwe village due to her gender, Tererai was married off at 11 and bore three children by the age of 18 to a husband who beat her. She dreamed of going to America and earning a B.S., a Master's, and a PhD. She wrote those dreams on a piece of paper, which she placed in a scrap of tin and buried under a rock in a pasture.
In 1998, seven years after committing her dreams to paper, Tererai, her husband (who was later deported for abuse), and their five children moved to Oklahoma. After earning her B.S., Tererai returned to Zimbabwe, dug up the tin and checked off that dream. She did the same after attaining her Master's in 2003, and again in 2009 when she was awarded her PhD. She has also built schools for girls in Zimbabwe, with funding from Oprah.
Through one incredible woman’s journey from a child bride to one of the world’s most recognizable voices in women’s empowerment and education, this manifesto inspires women to pursue their sacred dreams through nine essential lessons brought forth from ancient African wisdom.
Join The Shift Network, The Gaiafield Project, and people around the world for Global Shift Meditations on the first of each month. On February 1, we featured author, storyteller, and world-renowned Priestess of Oshun, Yeye Teish, on “The Power and Promise of Ritual.” Click here to listen to the free recording and to register to receive future free recordings.
As an African American woman, I know that the great wealth of my life is the inheritance of Okan. Okan is a Yoruba word that can be translated as “the heart” and may be likened unto the qualities associated with the Heart chakra in the traditions of the East. But the word Okan also means first.
One could say that this word advises us to move in the world “heart first.” It is our preference for Okan that impels us to be optimistic, to make a way out of no way.
What did you learn, through your writing, about yourself, your own personal experience, and the general experience of Black Americans?
I think there was a certain point in the book when I realized I grew up in a war zone — that the experience of being in a neighborhood that was consistently patrolled by law enforcement and consistently hyper criminalized…wasn’t normal. It wasn’t healthy, and so many of us experienced the impact of state violence in our communities. I had to really come to terms… with the idea that my family deserved dignity and deserved care and they deserved for their humanity to be really seen and that it wasn’t. In fact, our poverty was weaponized against us.
In 1983, my second year in the NBA with the New York Knicks, there was a month-long stretch where I wasn’t playing. Players always want to play so I was looking for an opportunity to get in the game somehow, someway. Remember, we’re talking about a kid who was 23 years old who thought basketball meant everything.
I’m not the most religious guy in the world but I have a strong faith and I believe in God. You know how you hear people talk sometimes about a spirit that came and uplifted them and moved them in the right direction? Well, one night, a spirit walked into Madison Square Garden and gave me an opportunity to play basketball again.
The United States has just experienced a corporate hijacking. If Trump’s inaugural speech did not alert you to the fact that they intend to come after all of us, then you are not paying attention.
The scale of the attack is as deep as it is wide, and this means that we will need a mass movement to confront it. To organize such a movement necessarily means that it will involve the previously uninitiated – those who are new to activism and organizing. We have to welcome those people and stop the arrogant and moralistic chastising of anyone who is not as “woke.”
One consequence of the European — and the prior Arab — kidnapping of people from Africa is the obscuring of their Indigenous identities. The term “slave” denies both the humanity and the unique sociocultural groups that stolen Africans belonged to.
My ancestors were transported to Jamaica. In Jamaica there are people from the Asante and Fante sub-groups of the Akan people of Ghana, from Yoruba and Igbo peoples of Nigeria, and from the Bantu people in what is now called Congo and Angola. Each group, as well as other smaller groups, have managed, despite inhumane oppression, to retain and adapt aspects of their Indigenous ways of life.
Growing up in Jamaica in a poor family with 10 siblings, a Pentecostal preacher for dad and a seamstress for mom, I was deeply embedded in the constrained context of a life, sharply defined by my environment. But I felt the faint resonance of my deeper transcendent self, connecting across the trenches of my class, tribe, and even nationality.
I arrived in the U.S. in 1970, at age 21, and studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. It was during those years that I made a commitment that has influenced the direction of my life like no other. I would only live in the low-income minority community, no matter the level of my income.
Within a week of moving, a bullet came through our baby’s bedroom window; we considered it a summons to accelerate the engagement with our neighbors and our neighborhood disparities.
I pressed my best suit and starched a white shirt. Held up each and every one of my ties, trying to decide which one looked the most professional. It was the night before my first day at my new job. Not just any job. A job at the White House. I was full of nervous energy.
When I tried to read, my mind kept wandering. I thought back to all of the experiences and the people who had helped me get to this point. College professors. Friends from graduate school. Mostly though, I thought about the people from my hometown. I thought about Madison Park.
Join us for the world famous annual International Yoga Festival in 2018 — uniting yogis of every culture, color, and creed together in a one-world yogic family, expanding global consciousness and bringing healing to the planet, one person at a time!
In this 7-day immersion and celebration, you have the opportunity to embrace every major style of yoga and learn from enlightened Spiritual Leaders, Master Yoga Teachers, Evolutionary Thought Leaders, and Wellness Specialists from around the world.
Awaken to the best version of yourself and ignite your inner light through this not-to-be-missed event at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, the largest ashram in Rishikesh and one of the largest interfaith yoga institutions in India.
Click here to watch a 40-second video invitation. Click here to visit the International Yoga Festival website.
Join Subtle Activist leader and TSN faculty David T. Nicol as he guides thousands of people through a sacred process of mass healing for the purposes of collective liberation. David will share about the power of unified group consciousness to bring next-level personal and ancestral healing, while also being a genuine force for change in our world. This call will involve a potent group practice to transform our personal and ancestral timelines. Find out more and register for this free online event here.
Wisdom 2.0 is the premiere gathering focused on exploring the intersection of wisdom and technology. Our flagship gathering is in San Francisco each year, where thousands of people from over 30 countries join in asking: How do we live with greater presence, purpose, and wisdom in the digital age?
Breakout sessions include “The Art of Teaching Mindfulness” with Jon Kabot-Zinn; “Empathetic Listening and Healing” with #MeToo founder, Tamara Burke; and “The Work with Byron Katie,” a two-hour session with Katie on doing The Work.
The second annual Peace Leadership Conference will be held February 22–25 in Rishkesh, India, prior to the March 1 start of the International Yoga Festival. Philip Hellmich, Director of Peace with The Shift Network, is a featured speaker.
The Peace Leadership Conference is designed to bring together global peace practitioners, academicians, educators, and others in the broad area of peace leadership; to experience fellowship, collaboration, and connection as we examine the nexus of peace and leadership. The agenda will start with a focus on Peace Leadership From The Inside and then flow into Peace Leadership From The Outside. Click here for more information.
For several years, The Shift Network has hosted Indigenous leaders from around the world and invited them to share their sacred knowledge, rituals, and practices to guide us in a way of living that is sustainable, healthy, and just. We’re thus delighted that the Global Indigenous Wisdom Library makes this “virtual council” of leaders and their wisdom available for everyone, everywhere for free. The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a collection of audio and video interviews featuring Indigenous leaders from around the world sharing prayers, sacred songs, prophecies, spiritual teachings, and pathways to healing, as well as concrete examples for birthing a new era — one in which all members of the human family are treated with respect, understanding, compassion, and justice. This sacred wisdom is important medicine for us all.
The production of The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a gift from The Shift Network, designed to inspire, inform, and involve you by highlighting the voices and important messages of Indigenous leaders from around the world. We want to give a heartfelt thanks to Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. (“Brother Phil”) for his partnership in helping create this Indigenous Wisdom collection. And we thank all the speakers who have contributed to this body of knowledge. To discover more, click here.
Book by Stephen Dinan: Sacred America, Sacred World. Infused with visionary power, Sacred America, Sacred World is a manifesto for our country’s evolution that is both political and deeply spiritual. It offers profound hope that America can grow beyond our current challenges and manifest our noblest destiny, which the book shows is rooted in sacred principles that transcend left or right political views. To order your copy, click here.
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World by Phil Bolsta of The Shift Network. Through God’s Eyes is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the only book that shows you how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to bring joy and vitality to your daily life. One reviewer called it “the owner’s manual God should give you when you’re born.” To order your copy, click here. To request a sample chapter from the author, email Phil at GodsEyes@me.com.
World Peace Library. Designed for the layperson and professional peacebuilder alike, the World Peace Library has over 425 audio and video interviews with some of the most remarkable, inspiring peacebuilders in the world available to you at NO COST. You’ll find hundreds of hours of inspirational, peacebuilding, compassion-spreading talks and trainings at your fingertips with this FREE global resource. There’s no way you can’t come away from the World Peace Library deeply inspired, transformed — and part of the solution. Click here to find out how to take peace to the next level — and help co-create a global culture of peace that leaves a legacy of good for our children, our children’s children and all of humanity and life on earth.
If you would like to submit something to The Catalyst, please see the submission guidelines: click here.
There have been several successful films in the last few years that were written, produced, and/or directed by Black artists. If you haven't already done so, find and watch one. If you've already seen one, find and watch another.
Kitchen Medicine: Food Wisdom and Recipes for Your Health, Healing & Longevity — With Acupuncturist, Natural Medicine Practitioner & Apitherapist Tamara Wolfson, LAc. Improve your gut health and overall wellbeing, strengthen your immune system, promote longevity, and heal health issues with the right flavors, foods, and herbs for each season. New 7-week Live Video Training Starts Wednesday, February 14, 2018
• Inspiring Women with Soul
• Hank Wesselman 25-week program
• Holly Bellebuono 7-week course
• Robert Moss 7-week course
• Mingtong Gu 7-week course
• Mark Matousek 7-week course
• Plant Medicine Summit
• Jean Haner 7-week course
• Deb Soule 7-week course
• Tim Kelley 7-week course
• Devaa Haley Mitchell 7-week course
• Grandmother Flordemayo 7-week course
• Jessica Dibb 10-week course
• Energy Medicine Summit
The Holistic Life Foundation is a Baltimore-based 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities. Through a comprehensive approach which helps children develop their inner lives through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and self-care, HLF demonstrates deep commitment to learning, community, and stewardship of the environment. HLF is also committed to developing high-quality evidence based programs and curriculum to improve community wellbeing.
In the first few days and weeks after a natural disaster or human crisis, the world reaches out to supply emergency medical services, food, water, and shelter needed to save lives. But what happens when the media coverage fades and global attention drifts to other matters?
Aid Still Required shines the spotlight on communities that were already impoverished before disaster struck through extensive outreach campaigns and by creating innovative, custom-tailored field programs to engender dignity and self-sufficiency.
On the ground, in shantytowns and remote rural villages, Aid Still Required provides programs such as trauma relief for sexual assault survivors, enrichment curricula for at-risk kids, handicraft and small business training for women under Sharia Law, marine restoration to ravaged coasts, and agroforestry for farmers with depleted lands. Join with us today and create futures in the worldʼs most desperate communities.
Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration. Our work includes the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns, and strategic advocacy for policy reform.
Click here to visit their website and to watch a 3-minute video, “The Sentencing Project: For a Better Justice System.” Click here to donate.
Work with us to end the U.S. war culture that supports using your taxes for death and destruction rather than the betterment of our nation's infrastructure and our wellbeing. The US Peace Memorial Foundation honors Americans who stand for peace. By recognizing, documenting, and commending anti-war actions we will reinforce their behavior, create role models, and inspire more Americans to speak out for peace. Click here to find out several ways you can support this crucial work — and to make a donation.
Her website states: Seven collaborative and five solo albums into her career at 31, Esperanza Spalding has always resolutely, intuitively, deftly expanded upon both her art and herself as a world-renowned genre-bending composer, bassist, and vocalist. Spalding’s work, grounded in jazz traditions but never bound by them, has won her four Grammy awards and brought her onstage at the Oscars, the Nobel Prize Ceremony, the White House, and with Prince and Herbie Hancock. Not only does she know who she is, we know who she is.
Or, rather, we think we do. The elastic self and work of a true artist is always changing; ideas are channeled, shape-shifting becomes necessary. “Emily’s D+Evolution” (pronounced “d plus evolution”) is where we meet Emily — both Esperanza’s middle name and the label for the spirit-muse that flows through this multi-dimensional, theatrical performance artwork wrapped in a brilliantly urgent, vivacious record.
Click here to visit Esperanza’s website. Click here to listen to and purchase tracks from her album, “Emily’s D+Evolution.”