This is a letter for Black folks who find themselves the “only” (or one of very few) in their workplace, community, spiritual groups, etc. It is also applicable to almost anyone who finds themselves the only [insert targeted group or identity] in a space on a regular basis and surrounded by those from dominant or normative groups.
I see you. I am you. And I have been you in many times and places in my life to varying degrees of success. Here are some of the ways I’ve found to navigate the vital practice of self-care for my “other” self.
Know/remember your why — Regularly revisit your intentions for being in said space. What did you come to learn or receive? What did you come to bring, offer, or teach? Is it still matching up and does the relationship feel reciprocal? As often as necessary, check in and revisit or reassess to be certain that the balance remains one that works for you, your needs, and your capacity.
Lean into your loving, supportive communities — Studies have shown that the experience of being the only person of color in a white environment can cause rates of stress and anxiety to increase, and reports of wellness to decrease. We need to have people and places we can go to where we can relax and be at ease. We need spaces where we can just be without needing to explain or translate ourselves. These connections are nourishing, nurturing, and invaluable to maintenance of our wellness and grounding.
Lean into your spiritual and self-care practices — Studies have also shown that many black and brown folks’ systems such as heart rate and blood pressure are “revving” at higher rates during the day and take longer to throttle down at night (one example of the toll that systemic oppression, racism, and even “unintentional” microaggressions can take on our bodies). We need to make it a practice and a priority to create space, ease, peace, and gentleness in our minds and bodies and lives whenever and wherever possible.
If none of the above is working anymore, it's okay to leave — I am currently watching (yet another) mass exodus of black and brown people from a white spiritual space after one too many missteps and overt or covert acts of harm or willful blindness. It is okay to recognize that a space, organization, or relationship is not equipped or prepared to hold and sustain us, and to decide to seek or create another where we may be safer, more seen and heard, and where our whole selves are welcome to show up. Sometimes, the most important thing is to know that we have our own backs in that regard, and for our spirits and bodies to know that we are listening when they tell us, “I'm done here.”
I've been seeing these conversations increasing in many communities and organizations. Leaders are asking, What does it mean to be inclusive?... What does success look like in this arena?... And reaching out to connect with those who are already modeling what success looks like. Witnessing and participating in these discussions in various places of my life makes me hopeful — and I balance that hope with the recognition of the importance of being centered in ourselves as people of color, rooted in Spirit, in communion with our ancestors, and plugged in to the Divine.
When we can check in with the Sacred (and our Beloved Deities and Self) we can know or trust that our actions are the best, next-most loving step — for ourselves and extending outward to those around us. With Spirit's wisdom we can know when to stay or to depart; when to lean in and when to hold our peace; when to push for change and when to recognize when our energies could be best used elsewhere — such as reaching out to a fellow BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] who is also navigating this journey/experience and needing some loving care for their “other” self.
Editor’s Note: We’re honored to include three exclusive video interviews in this issue of Catalyst — all of which speak to the urgency inherent in these troubling times.
Next, Yeye Luisah Teish shares her insights on issues ranging from the value of cultural stories to the global impact of Black Panther to healing longstanding wounds through creative expression.
And Tony award-winning actress Tonya Pinkins discusses her latest film, TV, and theatre projects, her passion for creating meaningful work, providing opportunities for talented artists, and empowering women.
A new wave of feminine healing and transformation is sweeping across our planet, lifting up women of every age, color, and belief system. While this cultural shift in consciousness continues to gain traction, there are sure to be obstacles on the way to lasting cultural change.
We need strong and open-hearted leaders... women who are living examples of the power, compassion, and courage we were each made to embody. And we need to step into our own full Self to model this for other women who will be strengthened by it.
During our FREE online Inspiring Women with Soul summit from March 1–14, you’ll discover amazing women leaders who are on fire with possibility and purpose. Women who’ll tell you the truth and help you navigate the journey of transformation as you travel it in your daily life. Speakers include Marianne Williamson, Lisa Nichols, Sandra Ingerman, Sarah Prout, Daisy Lee, Marci Shimoff, and many more. To register for free — and get a sneak peek at some of the topics that will be covered — click here.
And be sure to check out the new blog post by Shift Network President Stephen Dinan, which explains “Why Democrats Should Aim for 50–50 in 2020.” Here’s an excerpt:
In the early phases of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, something quite wonderful has organically arisen: the field of major candidates is at least 50% women. There are many reasons why this ratio is valuable and worth preserving. It should give the large number of potential male candidates who have yet to make a decision a real, principled sense of hesitation about entering and throwing off this balance. To read more, click here.
Finally, we’d love to hear your answer to the question, What African American — past or present — has inspired you the most, and why? To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.
When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. — Unknown
On my very first date with my now husband, I climbed into his car and saw baby wipes on the passenger side floor. He said he didn’t have kids; they were just there to clean up messes in the car. I twisted to secure my seatbelt and saw a stuffed animal in the rear window. I gave him a look. He said, “I promise, I don’t have kids. That’s only there so I don’t get stopped by the police.”
He then told me that when he drove home from work late at night, he was getting stopped by cops constantly because he was a black man in a luxury car and they assumed it was either stolen or he was a drug dealer. When he told a cop friend about this, he told Warren to put a stuffed animal in the rear window because it would change “his profile” to that of a family man and he was much less likely to be stopped.
The point here is, if you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success with a floppy-eared, stuffed bunny rabbit so you won’t get harassed by the cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), you have white privilege.
Would you like to establish and deepen reciprocal, healing relationships with nature’s beings and the unseen forces that guide them — and us — to help heal all of the web of life? Shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Wednesday, February 27, at 5:00pm Pacific to share how you can see Nature through the eyes of a shaman, and move into your ‘spirit self’ to talk with different species, learn from them, and enable them to learn from us. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
Would you like to learn spiritual practices that honor and empower you to cultivate your most powerful medicine from within? Author, acupuncturist, and master of Qigong and Tai Chi Dr. Roger Jahnke will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Thursday, February 28, at Noon Pacific to share how you can benefit more fully from Qi Medicine through movement-based techniques that can transform pain, insomnia, stress, and disease into vitality, health, and JOY. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
Would you like to receive live coaching and support — as you reset your thyroid and rebalance your adrenals for unstoppable health? Bestselling author & renowned nutrition and hormone health authority Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Thursday, February 28, at 5:00pm Pacific to share how you can discover the right foods (and recipes) to heal chronic conditions and improve bone density, skin, hair, energy... and even your mental outlook. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
Would you like to discover drumming as meditation — a rhythmic mantra that can engage the ‘monkey mind’ and help you fall deeply into your heart? Speaker, author, and music therapist Christine Stevens will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Wednesday, March 6, at Noon Pacific to share how you can encourage whole-body healing through drumming, including stress reduction, release of negative feelings, and improved immunity. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
Would you like to experience guided energy clearings that go far beyond your body and the chakras… and reveal the guiding wisdom within your own energy structure? Healer, teacher & author Desda Zuckerman will be leading a special Facebook Live Q&A call on Wednesday, March 6, at 5:00pm Pacific to share how you can clear old stories and patterns (without processing!) — and master the healing powers of your vast subtle anatomy. Click here to get a Facebook Messenger reminder when the event goes live.
In this 73-minute video interview exclusively for Catalyst, social justice visionary Mutima Imani shares her thoughts on the importance of Black History Month, why we need to shift the paradigm around the color black, the beauty that is waiting for anyone who reaches across cultural lines, and the heartbreaking story of why she chose the work of social justice.
Take a breath with me, because this is my story, and it's a hard story. This is why I'm committed to the work. So as soon as he did it, the youngest boy started saying, "I want to go with my oldest brother," and my brother and my sister-in-law got him help and support. And 12 years later, he did it too, the same way. When I realized... and then at the first... when the first son did it, I'm a Religious Science minister, they asked me to speak at the funeral, and I was just like furious. Like, what the hell do you think I'm going to say? I just sat there and I prayed, prayed, like, "Oh, use me, Spirit." I called my nephew's name, "Please, please speak through me." And whatever I said calmed everybody down. It was on Martin Luther King's birthday. That's the day that they had the funeral.
And whatever I said, people were just coming up and hugging me. But as soon as I got out of being the role of the minister, I went right back to my anger. So I realized that I was so angry because I felt so helpless. What could I have done or said to help this young boy that I loved? And then when the second one committed suicide, it almost killed me. My blood sugar was over 500 for three weeks. My body completely shut down. And I promised myself and my boys that I would be a champion in this world around race relations.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
In this 48-minute video interview exclusively for Catalyst, Yeye Luisah Teish, a storyteller, writer, artist activist, and spiritual guidance counselor, shares her insights on issues ranging from the value of cultural stories to the portrayal of people of color in the media to healing wounds through creative expression.
My concern these days has to do with what has been labeled, quote unquote, fake news, which is just the baby brother of fake history. If we consider that the past 5,000 years, the story that we call history has been in the hands of and told by, number one, the people who are conquerors, who are invaders, wherever that is, number two, the people who had access to education and to printing and had various other kinds of resources. So the more I learn, the more I am suspect of the accuracy of what we have been taught as history.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
In this 7-minute video interview exclusively for Catalyst, actor and activist Tonya Pinkins discusses her latest film, TV, and theatre projects, and her passion for creating meaningful work, providing opportunities for talented artists, and empowering women.
I really love working on television. I've done so many years in the theater. Television is kind of an opportunity to learn a new skill set. It's a lot of fun for me to get to be on a TV set and practice new things. I like to learn.
I've been doing a lot of shadowing in television, wanting to move into directing television. I'll be spending June in Austin, Texas, shadowing with Michael Satrazemis who's the producer/director of both Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. I will be shadowing him as a director in June. I'm a new Fulbright Scholar. I'm going to Russia in April to teach at the Theater Institute in Yekaterinburg, which is the third largest city in Russia.
To watch the video and read the transcript, click here.
If you’re white, you may have whitesplained without realizing it. To understand whitesplaining, now picture yourself in the following situation. I’m venting about my day, and I tell you I’m angry that a white neighbor told me, “I don’t even see you as Black.”
Would you reassure me that my neighbor meant well? If you do, don’t be surprised if I’m just as annoyed as you would be if a man tried to explain your experience with street harassment to you. Usually, signs of whitesplaining include a condescending tone and a paternalistic assumption that a person of color doesn’t know enough to accurately articulate their own experience.
The plea is poignant in its urgency, a time-is-running-out appeal published in a Baltimore newspaper more than 40 years after Emancipation. Ann Whaley, 101, is searching for relatives sold away from her. Before she dies, she wants to see them.
“I am very anxious to get in direct correspondence with them,” she writes. "Anything you can do for me, an ex-slave, will be highly appreciated.” The beseeching words that Whaley penned — part of her letter that appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Aug. 26, 1911 — are about to reach a new audience...
Actress Tonya Pinkins joins Black America host Carol Jenkins to discuss "colorism" and the perspective of a black woman. Tonya Pinkins also discusses her influences throughout her career, her work in Gotham on Fox and 11.22.63 on Hulu, and why she exited the play Mother Courage.
Amma Asante, the director of the Hollywood movie Belle, found that working in Hollywood where only 0.4% of directors are black females places her under pressure to live up to a definition bestowed upon her — one that did not match own own self definition. A passionate speaker, Amma asks us to consider that we are all a combination of many worlds put together and when those worlds meet, progress can follow.
Luvvie Ajayi isn't afraid to speak her mind or to be the one dissenting voice in a crowd, and neither should you. "Your silence serves no one," says the writer, activist, and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker. In this bright, uplifting talk, Ajayi shares three questions to ask yourself if you're teetering on the edge of speaking up or quieting down — and encourages all of us to get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
A father of four without arms and legs proves that everything is possible, despite losing his limbs due to meningitis at the age of two. Joseph Reed, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says he had an unhappy childhood in a foster family, and even experienced suicidal thoughts while growing up. Today the 34-year-old is a happy man and lives his life to the fullest — he is a father of four, a husband, and holds down a full-time job. The man, nicknamed by friends “Nub Zero, the No-Legged Hero,” is a great inspiration to his family and friends and everyone around him.
Undercover "grandmother" Troy Mullins, a 26-year-old female long drive champion, goes to the Genesis Open to prank some unsuspecting kids. Sporting four hours of prosthetics and Hollywood makeup, Granny puts on a driving range show for the ages and shows kids that you can crush it off the tee at any age. Click here to watch the 4-minute video.
Join Subtle Activists and life partners David T. Nicol and Kate Naga the first Saturday of each month for their Web of Light Subtle Activism Series, in which they tap into a different quality of our shared essential presence as a strand of light in the global Web. March’s presentation, “Weaving Strands of Will,” is designed to fortify and transmute the experience of being ungrounded and distracted. Click here to listen on Saturday, March 2.
During our FREE online Inspiring Women with Soul summit from March 1–14, you’ll discover amazing women leaders who are on fire with possibility and purpose. Women who’ll tell you the truth and help you navigate the journey of transformation as you travel it in your daily life.
We carefully selected an incredible lineup of more than three dozen extraordinary women speakers to educate, surprise, and inspire you with profound insights for taking full advantage of this unique moment in history! If you’re a woman committed to “being the change,” you’ll love these mentorship sessions with awe-inspiring women who understand the essential keys for living a bold and beautiful soul-powered life.
Speakers include Marianne Williamson, Lisa Nichols, Sandra Ingerman, Sarah Prout, Daisy Lee, Marci Shimoff, and many more. To register for free — and get a sneak peek at some of the topics that will be covered — click here.
Join us for the world-famous annual International Yoga Festival on the banks of the holy Ganges river, nestled in the lap of the sacred Himalayas, the birthplace of yoga, at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Receive the darshan and inspiring, uplifting wisdom of revered saints, and the teaching and touch of renowned yoga teachers from across the world from a wide variety of lineages — plus, ecstatic kirtan, divine Ganga Aarti, and much, much more. The International Yoga Festival is a truly globally unique event, bringing together so many masters from so many traditions, cultures, and countries in one sacred, beautiful place! Click here to register online.
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 MINDFULNESS, WISDOM, and COMPASSION in the digital age?” Past speakers include founders of Twitter, Facebook, and eBay. Click here to view the full list of speakers for this year’s event. Click here to register.
As Lori Lakin Hutcherson, the founder and Editor-In-Chief explains, “Although I work primarily in television and film, I started Good Black News a few years ago after a conversation with noted author Terry McMillan. She told me about a school for black males where 100% of the seniors matriculated to college, but couldn’t find the story on any major news site. Even if it wasn’t in the mainstream press, I thought for sure there must be some “good black news” site covering it, so I set out to find it and send her the link. Shockingly, I couldn’t find a site dedicated solely to positive black news, so in that moment I was compelled to create one.
The Way of the Illuminated Warrior, a free online summit, is hosted by Perry “Waska” Finkelstein. You’ll hear from two dozen mindful experts who will share their wisdom with you to facilitate your healing and growth and to help you find your truest, higher potential. In this series, you’ll learn:
The power of forgiveness
How to avoid suffering
Methods for releasing trauma
Ways to set healthy boundaries
Fulfilling your life's purpose
Click here to register for free. Click here to watch Perry’s 48-minute video interview with Shift Network President Stephen Dinan.
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.
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.
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.
If you would like to submit something to The Catalyst, please see the submission guidelines: click here.
Read Lori Lakin Hutcherson’s article on white privilege in this issue, reflect on the examples she offered, and challenge yourself to be more aware and empathetic about the day-to-day experiences of people who don’t look like you.
Time to Rise Up!: Let’s Show Up & Step Up to Evolve Our Democracy for Real — A Free Video Event With America’s “Coolest” Mayor, Heidi Harmon, and special guest Marianne Williamson. Receive powerful insights for how to engage politics in a spiritually aligned, deeply fulfilling way that changes the conversation and builds the future we know is possible! Wednesday, March 6, at 5:30pm Pacific
Essie Justice Group is a nonprofit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration. Our award-winning Healing to Advocacy Model brings women together to heal, build collective power, and drive social change. We are building a membership of fierce advocates for race and gender justice — including Black and Latinx women, formerly and currently incarcerated women, Transwomen, and gender non-conforming people.
GirlTrek is the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. With nearly 100,000 neighborhood walkers, GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. As women organize walking teams, they mobilize community members to support monthly advocacy efforts and lead a civil rights-inspired health movement.
Beyond walking, GirlTrek’s active members support local and national policy to increase physical activity through walking, improve access to safe places to walk, protect and reclaim green spaces, and improve the walkability and built environments of 50 high-need communities across the United States.
The Philharmonik, born Christian Gates, is an American hip-hop, future-soul R&B recording artist and producer from Sacramento, California. He debuted in 2018 with the album “The Philharmonik.”
His music blends contemporary rap and hip-hop influences like J. Cole and Kanye West with classic R&B, soul and funk artists like Stevie Wonder, Prince, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Parliament, and Earth, Wind & Fire. He also cites pop rock influences like The Beatles, Steely Dan, and The Police.
The Philharmonik’s musical beginnings started in Cleveland, Ohio where he was born. He began taking classical piano at the age of age after he attended a concert with his mom. When he returned home from the concert he began to play songs he heard note for note. His family signed him up for piano lessons with a teacher who played for the Cleveland Orchestra and thus his training began.
The Philharmonik participated in a community choir and church choir, because his mom felt he sounded like a member of the Vienna Boys Choir (Just like a mom). Cutting his mom’s dreams short, The Philharmonik ended his participation when he could no longer hold back the rhythm in his soul set afire after he discovered hip-hop. The Philharmonik is known for his electrifying live performances.