Intracommunity Conversations on Blackness, Faith, Immigration & Well-Being
*A Collaborative Dialogue Sponsored by Muslim Wellness Foundation & UnDocuBlack Network
INTERSECTIONS: Intracommunity Conversations on Blackness, Faith, Immigration and Well-Being
Our aim is to bring together members of the Black community - from across the diaspora and across faiths - for a discussion centering the intersection of race, religion, wellness, and citizenship. Our goal is to encourage dialogue on the following topics:
psychological impact of the reality of undocumented status, immigration and deportation
erasure of Black African/Caribbean immigrants within the broader immigrant rights movement
how assumptions of Christianity or religious micro aggressions may contribute to unique challenges experienced by Black African/Caribbean/Latinx Muslims
effects of antiMuslim bigotry and Islamophobic policies (MuslimBan) on the public debate both in general society and the Black community.
Lastly, we would like to brainstorm how to increase access to information and resources beneficial to those experiencing mental health challenges or emotional distress related to immigration, citizenship and deportation.
JOIN US FOR OUR FIRST COMMUNITY CONVERSATION!
When: Saturday May 26, 2018, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Where: Washington, DC (*Location will be provided upon registration)
Who: Open to those who identify as a person of Black/African descent.
*For non-Black allies, we appreciate your ongoing support and interest in learning how to engage
authentically and in solidarity with the Black community, and look forward to such collaborations in the future.
Kameelah Mu'Min Rashad, MS, MRP, MEd, Founder & President Muslim Wellness Foundation
Gabrielle Jackson, MSW, LICSW, LSW, co-Founder, Mental Wellness Director, UndocuBlack Network
Refreshments will be served. FREE, space is LIMITED. REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
Muslim Wellness Foundation:
Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF) is dedicated to promote healing and well-being in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education and training. We envision a future in which faith communities are at the forefront of mental health advocacy and committed to developing an inclusive culture of compassion, understanding and support. In order to achieve this goal, we have adopted an interdisciplinary approach which addresses mental health challenges using a spiritually relevant community-based public health framework. 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.
The UndocuBlack Network (UBN) is a multigenerational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access resources and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives. Our kickoff event was The Undocumented and Black Convening, a first-of-its kind national convening of over 65 Black undocumented persons in Miami, Florida on January 15-17, 2016. The convening was a three-day event of facilitated workshops, strategizing, intersectional caucus spaces, and healing spaces. One of the main outcomes of the convening was the establishment of a network that would advocate for the Black undocumented community and uplift its stories. The UndocuBlack Network’s mission is twofold: 1) to “Blackify” this country’s understanding of the undocumented population and 2) to facilitate access to resources for the Black undocumented community. Ultimately, our vision is to have truly inclusive immigrant rights and racial justice movements that advocate for the rights of Black undocumented individuals, provide healing spaces, and kinship to those with intersecting identities.
THE STATE OF BLACK IMMIGRANTS
According to the United States Census, Black/African Americans represent 14% of the American population, approximately 46 million people (Nielsen, 2016). This community is also culturally and ethnically diverse, and include native-born descendants of enslaved Africans in the US as well as immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. The Black immigrant community in America is expected to grow to represent nearly 17% of US Blacks, with the majority identifying Haiti, Jamaica and Nigeria as their original country of origin.
Black immigrants are one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States. Nonetheless, this group remains a novelty in the broader immigration discourse.
Black immigrants are much more likely than nationals from other regions to be deported due to a criminal conviction.
More than 1 out of every 5 noncitizens facing deportation on criminal grounds before the Executive Office for Immigration Review is Black.
In an era where #BlackLivesMatter and #Not1More have become rallying cries for racial justice and immigrants’ rights activists respectively, it’s important that we uplift the common challenges that cross both movements - mass incarceration, policing, immigrant detention, deportations, deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties, economic inequality, and the destruction of families and communities. These problems are prevalent in all communities of color in the U.S. But unlike Black Americans and immigrants of other backgrounds, Black immigrants face the aforementioned challenges in ways that are unique and consequential.
UndocuBlack Network Guide for Mental Wellness Specialists
During this time of political crisis, and the increased targeting, criminalizing and deportations of our communities, we are prioritizing our community’s survival. We believe that, in this moment, our survival is political. We believe that it is an urgent matter to ensure our communities have adequate access to mental health services and we want to ensure the general public understands the increased urgency of mental wellness in this moment for our affected communities. As such, we are launching our Mental Wellness Initiative (MWI).
Our Mental Wellness Initiative seeks to do the following things:
Expand the dialogue around mental wellness in our communities.
Create resources to ease the barriers our communities face while seeking care and educate interested mental health service providers about our community. Our first step in this is creating and sharing a guide, The UndocuBlack Guide for Mental Wellness Specialists, that our members can use while accessing care and that service providers can use to educate themselves about our community.
Organize a Collective of Therapists willing to provide low cost or pro bono services to our community. These therapists will receive additional trainings and resources on how to care for our community.
Facilitate Mental Wellness Discussions across the country with our community. These Mental Wellness Discussions will be facilitated by our trained members for our members. The purpose of these spaces is to provide our folks with tangible coping mechanisms and to encourage open conversation about mental wellness.
The Sky Is Ours: Self-Care Primer for Black Muslims
Strength & Perseverance
In the Black community, there exists a cultural imperative to be strong, stoic and resilient in the face of unimaginable horrors. The emphasis on patience and perseverance from an Islamic perspective resonates strongly with the cultural image/stereotype of indominable Black strength. Verses from the Holy Qu’ran related to suffering and trials are often used as a form of religious coping and to frame emotional issues:
“Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere."
Holy Qu’ran (Chapter 2: Verse 153)
While this spiritual understanding of suffering may provide solace, many still struggle silently with feelings of grief, anxiety and sadness or depression. We can no longer deny that this call to be strong and persevered comes at a cost. We are asked to be gracious, forgiving; respectful, polite and calm while being terrorized. Our Black pain, suffering and grief in these moments is not validated or acknowledged. In fact, many turn away from the inconvenient and uncomfortable reality of the pain and degradation Black people continue to endure. This unspoken pain may manifest itself in other ways: in poor eating/over eating and diet, abuse of drugs or alcohol, extreme stress, high blood pressure and heart disease.
It is time that we address the unresolved trauma, pain, fear, and despair that is keenly and uniquely felt by Black Muslims in these moments of crisis and upheaval. Engaging in a fierce and dedicated practice of self-care is one way in which we can begin to heal. Self-care is defined as a set of actions, practices or rituals that help an individual restore balance in one’s life and improve physical, mental and emotional health. In other words, self-care is: “one’s ability to pay attention to, take responsibility for, and engage in practices that nurture one’s body, mind and spirit in order to manage stress and live happier, more effective lives”.
This Black Muslim Self-Care Primer will cover the following (click HERE for pdf version):
What is Trauma? What Are the Emotional & Psychological Symptoms of Trauma?
Self-Care Tips & Strategies
Create Your Own Self-Care Plan
Mental Health Resources & Helpful Links
For hyperlinks to all resources, click HERE