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June 2 Forum: “Let’s Talk Black Women’s Mental Health”

Equity coverage is supported by underwriting from African American Leadership Forum

 

When Dr. Catherine Squires returned to our website in February to share an essay about why she left her role in higher education, it quickly became the most popular page on our website — including the home page — as thousands of people around the country read and shared it.

She spoke at our “39 Years of Voice & Vision” event in April, was part of a story in our May issue about mental health, and will be part of a June 2 forum we are co-hosting called “Let’s Talk Black Women’s Mental Health.” The event is co-sponsored by African American Leadership Forum and University of Minnesota Press. It will include Dr. Taiyon Coleman, author of Traveling Without Moving: Essays From a Black Woman Trying to Survive in America and Dr. Rachel Hardeman, who leads the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota.

To sign up for the free hour-long conversation, moderated by Andrea Pierre of KRSM — which will be in-person and livestream — click here. Registration is required. Full details will be shared with registrants in late May.

 

 

 

I was inspired to write this piece because so many stories were popping up — and there’s probably so many that weren’t being heard about Black women, not just in higher ed but in other professions, leaving under horrid circumstances. … What is still too true for too many Black women in leadership, as well as Indigenous women and other women of color, is that when they take positions of leadership in predominantly white institutions, they can only count the number of people who have their back on one hand, and maybe only on one finger.

The amount of stress that creates, and the stress you bring back home — people have written extensively now about the topic of weathering. … It’s what Patricia Williams called [spirit] murders. Death by 1,000 cuts. And it shouldn’t be that way. … All of those things spurred me to write that piece and to ask people to see themselves in it, even if they weren’t a Black woman. And so that’s why the piece ends with those reflective questions about what kinds of expectations are you putting on people who you’re bringing in to solve a problem that’s 400 years old? How little expectations are you putting on yourself?

Those are the kinds of things I want people to think about. Not just to hear my story, or look at the stories in the news, but actually see themselves connected, because we’re all connected.

I want to go back to Junauda’s poem and book, let’s literally fund the grandmothers. People love to say they’re doing community engaged work — and Dr. Brittany Lewis [in the audience] could give a seminar right now on this. Philanthropists say it. Politicians say it. But there’s still this belief, it seems, that if we give ‘those people’ a bunch of money, they’re not going to do it right. Or they’re not going to do it the way I think it should be done. So I’m going to put a bunch of strings on and I’m going to ask them to fix a 400-year problem in one quarter, and give me a report about it before the next quarter.

I really want folks to understand that. You can’t just say you’re going to work with community. You have to be willing to share power with community and share resources with community and take a step back. If you care about community and public health, then you have to let communities take care of their health.

Join the conversation on June 2!