In the context of the United States, the lived experiences and stories of Black and Brown people are frequently unheard and unacknowledged. This is particularly true in spaces help captive by categorical racism, White racial ideology, and White normativity. Consequently, people living in Black and Brown bodies suffer in silence. Those who have the courage to tell their stories are often met with a response that does not acknowledge the depth and complexities of their lived experiences. Yet, when Black and Brown stories are acknowledged, those who hear our stories – even the most well-meaning persons, sometimes find themselves ill-equipped to respond to the lived experiences of Black and Brown people. This reality calls for skilled clinicians, clergy, educators, scholars, and other community leaders to be equipped with theories and practices of care and counseling that can spark and sustain the survival, liberation, and healing of Black and Brown people.This year’s Coloring Mental Health Collective symposium and roundtable discussion, “Telling Our Untold & Unacknowledged Stories: Reflections from Black and Brown Bodies,” seeks to do just that and takes seriously embodiment as a critical dimension of mental health; that is, we are taking seriously embodiment as the starting point of our discussions on the mental health of Black and Brown people.This year’s symposium will also engage community organizing as a central part of our discussion and explicitly integrate mental health, social justice, and community organizing as a way to optimally care for Black and Brown people in clinical settings, faith communities, educational institutions, and the community-at-large.
The symposium and roundtable discussion will include planning for a specific community organizing initiative to improve the mental health of Black and Brown youth who attend Evanston and Chicago public schools. The goal is to use our collective power and mobilize mental health professionals, clergy, and other community leaders to improve the mental health of Black and Brown youth who are in dire need of life-giving resources to creatively process their life experiences to survive and flourish in the world.
In addition to presentations by leading scholars on the psychological and spiritual implications of living in Black and Brown bodies – including appropriate intervention strategies, we will engage in an overview of community organizing and discussion on the connections between community organizing, counseling, spiritual care, and community leadership. The second day of the symposium will include discussion to gauge interest for developing a plan of action to organize a larger public meeting that will occur in November/December of this year to care for Black and Brown youth in Evanston and Chicago public schools. The November/December public meeting will draw from discussions that will take place during the September 7th and 8th symposium.
We are excited about the genius that will gather in the room during this year’s symposium and roundtable discussion and look forward to the positive impact of our collective work. Please join us for this exciting and innovative continuing education experience and community organizing moment as, together, we improve the mental health of Black and Brown people.