Supporting Healthy Black Families (SHBF) Workgroups are transforming lives in the Black community in Madison, WI. Participants are empowered to become self-aware, take accountability, and take ownership of their lives and the lives of their families. The methodology of Supporting Healthy Black Families creates the opportunities and possibilities for Black people to have breakthroughs and transformation that’s life changing. SHBF is designed to bring about positive, permanent shifts in how Black people define and understand the depth and breadth of white supremacy racism. Shifts that are the direct cause for a new kind of freedom and POWER—the freedom to acknowledge and accept our history, and the personal power to do something about it— while increasing the confidence, self-worth, and personal power of Black people. Ultimately, affecting how we live our lives and directly impacting health disparities.
Below is a description of the experience of Alex Booker a participant of our 3rd cohort Workgroup, as well as quotes from other participants.
SHBF Workgroup has positively transformed my life. Over the weeks of reading and building an analysis of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and The Miss Education of a Negro has allowed me to unpack a lot. I was forced to look at how I internalized the narratives and ideologies of white supremacy racism. All of these views were taught to me by way of social engineering. Including Black inferiority and thinking negative about myself and my ability to create my reality. Thinking that there is only one way to be successful was the hardest to shake off for me.
Growing up in a college town I was told many times that college was the “ticket out”. I was pushed to pursue higher education no matter the financial and/or mental cost because it was the way out for Black people. Now I know, the way out, is inward via self-awareness, accountability, community, empowerment and action. This could be true for many people, but what I’ve learned in Supporting Healthy Black Families is that a diploma doesn’t always grant you a seat at the table. A college education won’t keep me safe from the systematic violence against my people and that a lack of education does not mean that I deserve to be oppressed. It was important for me to restructure how I viewed my education. I started to validate the information that I learned on my own time outside of an academia classroom. Specifically, teachings and analysis by Black scientist and leaders. I now know academia is not the end all to self-education for Black people. We must intentionally and diligently educate ourselves and challenge our own views of Black people that are too often rooted in Black inferiority.
Realizing that I have the tools within me to create the life I want for myself was overwhelming because society has told me that Black people don't yield that power. Through the readings, classroom conversations and assignments, I learned that we always have had that light, it was just constantly being dimmed. I had to admit that I never wanted to work in corporate America or have a government job. I had to walk in my purpose and create my own business, something I thought was impossible. I wasn’t alone in my breakthroughs.
When other participants were asked how SHBF impacted and affected their lives, one participant said, “The course has helped me to re-examine how I center my thoughts and actions.” Another participant stated, “Urban Triage helped me rediscover myself.” Most of the cohort participants have made statements reflecting what these two women experienced. Another active participant talked about how she is using the lessons from class in her professional life. She said, "This course has taught me so much regarding post traumatic slave syndrome and the impact that trauma has on my thinking, our behaviors, and more importantly our way of being. I have the ability to change my situation and our outcomes by just starting with the results I want. This helped me with reframing my approach to the things that I want to achieve. Moving forward, I am starting with the results I want knowing that I already have what it takes to achieve my goals. I am also now able to clarify and make the distinction between who I am rather than what I am. To me, that was powerful. As a result of this learning, I pushed past my fears of tackling the data analysis of my dissertation to working through the analysis. As a result, I now have a defense date to defend my dissertation and am walking in my power.” Not only did the course help with personal development, SHBF also helped create community in a time it was greatly needed. A cohort member mentioned this saying, "Supporting Healthy Black Families gave me a few valuable things. Community connection which was so refreshing during the pandemic. It helped me examine the things I make a racket about and approach the obstacles with the result I desire in mind. Additionally, it helped me consider creative ways to use community to build and grow, and find ways to support each other." SHBF is transformative, thought provoking, and is exactly what Madison needs at this time.
Supporting Healthy Black Families are on a mission to empower and inspire breakthroughs and transformation in Black people and Black communities and that’s exactly what Urban Triage, Inc. is doing. I literally learned how to tear down my old way of thinking and replace it with a solid foundation to be able to build on solid ground. My new foundation was reinforced by learning why we do the things we do, what traits were developed out of survival, and how they were passed down for generations. This class has shaped and redefined my view of Black people and Black communities as an ecosystem. Every person and every Black person are important for our survival. We learned how to operate as an ecosystem. We all worked together and supported one another. I got as much as I gave, and no one had higher value over another. Supporting Healthy Black Families is creating that ecosystem and I am grateful to be a part of it.