2017 REVIEW: A YEAR OF GROWTH & GRATITUDE
The mission of Muslim Wellness Foundation is to reduce mental health stigma and promote healing and well-being in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education and training. In order to achieve this goal, we have adopted an interdisciplinary, spiritually relevant, community based public health approach to wellness. This approach recognizes the negative impact of stressors such as poverty, oppression, anti-Black racism, and anti-Muslim bigotry which lead to diminished well being. Our emphasis on wellness, social justice and community activism has challenged us to develop conversations and programming which resonate with community members striving to cope in this difficult political climate. We call this the year of growth and gratitude as we have reached amazing milestones and received tremendous support from the community we are honored to serve. We are excited to share our top 5 most memorable moments and accomplishments of 2017:
2017 Black Muslim Psychology Conference was a phenomenal success!
MWF Founder Kameelah Rashad wins the 2017 El-Hibri Foundation Community Builder Award
The Deeply Rooted Project launches in Fall 2017 and we welcome our first cohort of Black Muslim youth into the Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders (DREL) Fellowship
Dr. Mona Masood joins the MWF Team!
MWF receives $67,000 in grants, sponsorships and donations
Leading with Compassion - In Search of Healing Justice & Collective Well-Being
Philadelphia, PA | July 21-22, 2017 | #BMPC2017
The unique vulnerabilities of being Black and Muslim in the United States are significant. However, in the face of anti-Black racism and anti-Muslim bigotry, Black Muslims often draw upon faith and deeply rooted spirituality, ancestral knowledge and cultural identities to strive towards restoring meaning, health and balance in their lives. The Black Muslim Psychology Conference (BMPC) was established in 2015 and is the only conference in the country to center the voices and experiences of Black Muslims with respect to race, religion, trauma and healing. BMPC grew from a gathering of 75 in its inaugural year, to 125 in 2016. 10 days before the 2017 conference, demand for registration exceeded our capacity and we had to move to a larger venue! There was a 300% growth in attendance as we brought together 375+ organizers, community members, mental health professionals, youth leaders, religious scholars and multidisciplinary experts to discuss the role of leaders in facilitating community healing and addressing issues related to racial violence, trauma, and emotional well-being. In addition to 40+ incredible speakers and amazing workshops, our two-day program also included these exciting highlights:
Keynote presentations by MN State Representative Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American legislator in the US, Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr. CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Ustadha Ieasha Prime, a Black Muslim scholar, activist and educator
Awards & Recognition Luncheon – honoring those who are Pioneers, Trailblazers & Emerging Leaders in the community: Imam Hanif Malik of Flint, MI, Sr. Laila Muhammad (daughter of Imam WD Muhammad), Mark Crain, Project Director of Dream of Detroit, Dr. Su’ad Abdul-Khabeer, Founder & Editor-In-Chief of SapeloSquare.com and author of Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop i the United States, Azza Altiraifi, Social Justice & DisAbility Rights Activist and Young Muslim Collective, a MN-based youth led grassroots organization.
Black Muslim Collegiate Forum for Black Muslim undergraduate students and emerging adults from UPenn, NYU, Tufts, Stanford, Harvard and Howard to share their experiences #BeingBlackandMuslim at predominantly white institutions (PWI) and historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
Artist Showcase featuring poetry and music from Tariq Toure, Sadiyah Bashir, Yourself Kromah, Aamaal Abdul-Malik, Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate Husnaa Hashim, and Aja Graydon & Fatin Dantzler of Kindred the Family Soul
The Imam Roundtable was lauded as one of the most groundbreaking and transformative dialogues many attendees had ever experienced. The Imam Roundtable was an historic gathering of 35 Imams and spiritual leaders of Black Muslim institutions from across the country in a space that offered the opportunity to dialogue with one another as well as with an audience composed of the community members they serve. These Imams represented a total of about 12,000 constituents in congregations in nearly 30 American cities. This forum included such notable leaders as Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn NY, Imam Tariq El-Amin of Chicago, IL, Minister Carlos Muhammad of Baltimore, MD and Imam Sulaimaan Hamed of Atlanta, GA. The Roundtable was designed using a “fish bowl style” format to facilitate substantially interactive conversation between the invited Imams and the listening audience--a safe, productive space in which all present were empowered to learn, reflect and deepen the understanding of the relationship between leadership and collective healing. These discussions were intense, emotional, raw and honest. We also provided a small intimate alternative space facilitated by Dr. Halim Naeem & Dr. Mona Masood for those men and women who may have been triggered or emotionally overwhelmed and needed to process their feelings with a trained and qualified mental health professional.
We cannot express the depth of our gratitude for the Imams who took a risk, to be vulnerable, to open themselves up in this way for both praise and criticism. The Imams who were willing to listen, to apologize, to ask for clarification, to correct a fellow Imam who may have been unaware of the impact of his words on the community, especially the women assembled. May Allah reward these leaders for "trusting the process" and making history in such a profound and incredible way!
Click HERE to read more reflections and articles about #BMPC2017!
FOUNDER KAMEELAH RASHAD SELECTED FOR THE 2017 EL-HIBRI FOUNDATION COMMUNITY BUILDER AWARD
The Community Builder Award was established by the El-Hibri Foundation to honor American Muslim leaders who have made significant or groundbreaking strides in building inclusive communities and creating the resources and collaborative relationships necessary to mobilize social change within American Muslim communities. This prize aims to elevate the efforts of those working to positively transform their communities by making the appreciation of difference and diversity widely embraced civic values and cultural norms. Kameelah Rashad was selected as the winner of the 2017 Community Builder Award for her innovative work to build the capacity of American Muslim communities to improve mental health and wellness and promote more inclusive norms. During her acceptance speech, Mrs. Rashad stated:
"There’s no data or evidence which provides insight into the long term impact of the traumatic stress we experience living in an Islamophobic climate of hostility, suspicion, surveillance and discrimination. We cannot easily quantify the emotional toll of racism, white supremacy and Islamophobia. Because it shows up in the millions of micro adjustments we make to soothe nonMuslims and minimize the discomfort triggered by their unresolved biases and fears about Muslims. However, in an intersectional world, there IS wisdom which can be gleaned from the lived reality of marginalized communities - communities which thrive despite oppressive conditions. At MWF we are working to create spaces in which Muslims can gain a clear and descriptive language to describe their experiences, strengths, challenges, and to heal by unburdening themselves of the weight of oppression and bigotry. We are a resilient and faithful community, but in the process of healing, we must give ourselves permission to be vulnerable, to cry, to show and be shown empathy, compassion and understanding. While we fight for peace, justice and liberation in the world, may we also fight as rigorously for internal peace, emotional wellbeing and spiritual freedom. Let us make du'aa/prayer for all those who struggling with mental health challenges, in need of nurturing safe spaces and a kind word or embrace. May Allah have mercy on the most vulnerable, may he give us all the courage to advocate on behalf of those who are also deserving yet limited/denied in their agency, privilege, access to resources or knowledge."
Listen to the full acceptance speech below!
THE DEEPLY ROOTED PROJECT: A BLACK MUSLIM MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVE + EMERGING LEADERS FELLOWSHIP
The Deeply Rooted Project is an initiative focused on addressing the 'acute social invisibility' affecting the mental health of Black Muslims, particularly in light of rising anti-Muslim bigotry and ongoing racial violence and trauma in the Black community. In a post-9/11, post-Ferguson Trump era, it is important to discuss the cultural and spiritual resilience which have strengthened Black Muslims through the centuries and the strategies/coping mechanisms that will serve the community as they face new threats to their collective well being.
The Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders (DREL) Fellowship centers the challenges, strengths and well-being of Black Muslim Emerging adults (18-25 years old) and is grounded in the belief that building power and sustainable grassroots movements cannot occur without healing and introspection. Our goal is to nurture cohort of emotionally intelligent social justice activists and leaders who will more assertively and constructively engage in spiritually grounded, justice oriented advocacy within the Muslim community. We received over 50 incredible applications for this year's inaugural fellowship and selecting from amongst these phenomenal applicants was difficult. Our 2017 cohort of DREL Fellows are bright, passionate advocates and we were impressed by their level of insight, awareness and vulnerability.
Read more about each DREL Fellow here.
The Deeply Rooted intensive 3 day retreat: Black Muslim Youth Rising (October 2017) explored topics ranging from healing from racial trauma to ethical leadership models. The facilitators for the workshops included: MWF Founder & President Kameelah Rashad, poet and author Tariq Toure, Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director of National Network for Arab American Communities, Dr. Sylvia Chan-Malik, Associate Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University, Anthropologist & Activist Donna A. Auston, Kiah Glenn, Blogger & Coordinator for Center for Muslim Life at Duke University, and Asha Noor, Somali American Activist, and Dr. Mona Masood, psychiatrist and MWF Board member, Yusuf Jones, Mental Health Advocate and MWF Board Member, Temple University Professor Dr. Quaiser Abdullah & Ayanna Gellineau. It was an incredibly transformative experience for both Fellows and Facilitators alike.
Here's what the Fellows shared about the Deeply Rooted Experience:
"Intentional. Passionate. Authentic. Lit... Really affirming and dope... Refreshing. Centering. Inspiring... It was surreal... It was like nothing I have done or felt before."
"I felt like I belonged. Every aspect of who I am was wholly accepted and I felt loved for who I am. Being around black people was one aspect, being around those who shared my faith and ideals the second, and the fact that we were young and could relate with one another the third. Never before, not even at home, had I felt so wholly embraced."
"I genuinely, deeply needed this. My problems, my anxieties, my worries, my hopes, my fears and my own idiosyncrasies felt heard. There was space for all of me. I was floored. And I felt deeply humbled by my peer Fellows. I was expanded with inspiration. My horizon has literally been shattered and I cannot wait to see what we accomplish together."
"Truly amazing, unlike anything I've ever experienced, life-changing, magnificent. I feel like I made life-long friends during this short retreat and like I could be my 100% real, authentic, genuine self around the group. I've never felt that at any other gathering of strangers. These people became like a family to me, people I feel I can trust and turn to, and to have that be achieved in less than 3 days is unfathomable.
The Fellows will also engage in small group action learning projects and in monthly virtual chats - Deeply Rooted Dialogue - on identity, leadership and activism. Find out more information about these dialogues here.
*Support for the Deeply Rooted Intensive Youth Retreat provided by the Action Seed Learning Fund and Emergent Fund, a collaboration between a collaboration between Women Donors Network, Solitaire Network, and Threshold Foundation
Filmmaker Ahmed Eid (producer of documentary UnMosqued), joined the Deeply Rooted Fellows and invited them to talk about their experiences #BeingBlackandMuslim for a new series titled #BlackMuslimsSpeak. Black Muslims comprise 23% of the Muslim American population and have been in America since its inception. Oftentimes, however, the black-muslim perspective is sidelined when addressing Muslim-American issues and concerns despite Black Muslims laying the foundation for what it means to identify as an American MuslimThis video series highlights Black Muslim voices- their concerns, experiences, struggles, and hopes.
Fellows Mohamed, Nabintou, Tesay, Vanessa, Ousainoue, Malaz, Ganiyat, and Seynabou share their stories!
Mohamed Tall, 20 | Junior, Morgan State Univ.
Baltimore, MD - Liberia
Nabintou Doumbia, 20 | Senior, Wayne State Univ
Detroit, MI - Ivory Coast
Tesay Yusuf, 21 | Senior, Stanford Univ
Arlington, VA - Ethiopia
Vanessa Taylor, 22 | co-Founder, Black Liberation Project
Minneapolis, MN - African American
Ousainoue Touray, 21 | Junior, Wayne County CCD
Detroit, MI - Senegambia
Malaz Mohamad, 24 | Alumna, Rice Univ
Houston, TX - Sudan
DR. MONA MASOOD JOINED THE MWF TEAM!
We are so very excited to have Dr. Mona join our diverse and committed team. In addition to her invaluable insights and expertise, she is incredibly kind, thoughtful, and compassionate. Some of her thoughts on racism, empathy and solidarity following the White Supremacist tiki-torch rally and tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA:
"The events at Charlottesville (VA) have been prevalent in my patients' sessions this week, often manifesting in tearful apologies, insistence that "not all of us are like that" with the hope that by my acceptance/forgiveness(?) of their confession, they will be absolved of the matter.
It doesn't work like that.
I say this to myself first as a psychiatrist as well as to my patients:
Sincere empathy for others is hard work which does not prioritize your need for validation and worth over the ones who are actually suffering. To be a true ally, engage with those outside your echo chambers/rallies/protests. Talk with your own family, friends, community members who have been inadvertent or blatant proponents of racism. It's going to be uncomfortable, thankless and make you feel extremely vulnerable, but that's what it takes to "do the right thing" and ultimately find the peace you seek.
*Dr. Mona pictured here facilitating a workshop at Deeply Rooted Intensive Retreat titled: Impact of Colonization on Immigrant Muslims: Understanding the Roots of antiBlack Racism
Ganiyat Balogun, 19 | Junior, Howard Univ
Greenbelt, MD - Nigeria
Seynabou Niang, 22 | Alumna, Spelman Univ
Atlanta, GA - Senegal
OUR DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO OUR GENEROUS FUNDERS & SUPPORTERS!
MWF is a small non-profit organization relying on an all-volunteer staff, small donations and board contributions in order to provide insightful, innovative, and quality programming to the community. 2017 was truly a year of growth and gratitude as we were fortunate to work with philanthropic organizations committed to helping us fulfill our mission of promoting healing in the American Muslim community.
In 2017, we received $35,000 in grants, $15,000 in corporate sponsorships and $17,000 from 75+ individual donations and fundraising pledges!!
Special thanks to the following organizations for their unwavering support of our work:
Pillars Fund - for their generous contribution to the expansion of the 2017 Black Muslim Psychology Conference and for approving our proposal for a capacity building grant for strategic planning and board development in 2018.
Proteus Fund, Security & Rights Collaborative (SRC) - the SRC supports organizations working to address profiling, discrimination, hate crimes, Islamophobia and xenophobia. The grant from SRC supported the expansion of the Black Muslim Psychology Conference and the resources for the historic Imam Roundtable.
American Muslim Fund - AMuslimFund is the first grassroots, national Islamic community foundation in the United States. On behalf of the Hashem-Morad Fund, American Muslim Fund provided a grant supporting the Black Muslim Psychology Conference.
Dr. Mona Masood is an outpatient psychiatrist practicing at Southampton Psychiatric Associates in PA after completing her general adult psychiatry residency at Temple University Hospital and medical school at Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Masood’s psychotherapy focus is in the field of psychodynamic psychotherapy which is a form of therapy that focuses on patterns, behaviors, drives and interpersonal relationships that were established in our developmental years that may have created maladapative ways of dealing with our adult stressors and relationships today. She has a special interest in helping patients develop insight and change in lifelong patterns of maladaptive behaviors to achieve happiness and better quality of life. She is also trained in Supportive, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and works with child and adolescent patients as well. She has experience treating patients with diverse sociocultural and religious backgrounds and hopes to address ways of building a productive therapeutic alliance with Black Muslim patients across the racial divide.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR MUSLIM WELLNESS FOUNDATION?
In 2018, we plan to enhance existing projects and launch several new programs to build on the momentum of a very successful year.
2018 Black Muslim Psychology Conference: Love & Liberation - Lessons on Intimacy, Sex, Marriage & Family. SAVE THE DATE: July 20 - 22, 2018
Voices of Muslim Families Project, a collaboration with American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) Family Policy & Human Rights Committee
The Best of You Collective, designed to raise awareness and address the mental health and psychological well being of American Muslim men
SMARTSteps for StepFamilies, support and resources for blended/stepfamilies
...and more! Stay tuned!
In the last 36 months, MWF has accomplished many milestones. We established a groundbreaking national Black Muslim Psychology conference addressing the emotional wellbeing of Black Muslims; convened a biannual Youth Anti-Muslim Bigotry Symposium; organized a unique 1 day maternal mental health retreat for Muslim women to discuss taboo issues of infertility, miscarriage and postpartum depression; assisted in the mobilization of mental health professionals in response to the tragic murder of Deah Barakat, Yusor and Razan AbuSalha in Feb 2015; became first organization to promote Mental Health First Aid training in the American Muslim community, certifying over 300 Muslims. We have expanded our online presence to offer virtual resources for American Muslims. Our webinars have garnered a total of 5,700 views on topics such as grief & trauma, sexual and spiritual abuse, domestic violence, coping with racism, Islamic Psychology, and youth resilience. Moreover, in December of 2016, we created the hashtag #BlackMuslimFamily which went viral on Twitter, trending at #1 in less than 8 hours and reaching close to 9 million individuals worldwide. Our social media presence and email subscription list has since grown to 5,000 individuals.
In 2017, we further expanded our reach, launched a new initiative and fellowship, provided self-care resources and presentation for those experiencing stress and anxiety in this Trump era, our founder Kameelah Rashad received recognition for her visionary leadership and advocacy from El-Hibri Foundation and Pennsylvania Psychological Association. MWF’s leadership, interdisciplinary, strengths based approach and commitment to addressing stigma and psychological impact of oppression, discrimination and bigotry has contributed to the organization’s impact despite limited financial resources and limitations of an all-volunteer staff. In this New Year, we are even more committed to our mission and invite you to join us on this journey of healing and well-being!
Muslim Wellness Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
All donations are tax-deductible.