Cultural Wellness Center

Recent Articles

Through African American restoration we can heal past trauma

Africans are living with a memory that is laced with a brutally profound pain emerging from the time of our ancestors’ enslavement. Black people have been traumatized deeply as a people. The first traumatic experience is from being torn from our mother/homeland. The second traumatic experience is from a twisting of our nature through the tormenting process of enslavement. The detail of this brutality, which was leveled against the mind, body and spirit of Black men and women, is depicted with clarity in the recently released film 12 years a Slave. Continue Reading →

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Even death speaks to us if we know how to listen

Last year several people came to me for cultural coaching. They made a deep impression on me. I was able to see the changes in their energy level or in their attitude toward life immediately. Miss Sarah Hillier is the first example. Her daughter Melanie called me to make the appointment for her mother, and she sounded afraid that her mother was on the verge of suicide. Continue Reading →

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Seven stages of growth lead to Elder-hood

Conclusion of a two-part column
The Elders are here now in the Cultural Wellness Center. They will teach, coach, share and guide us forward. For this, we are deeply grateful. African culture and heritage anchors the person’s life cycles inside the “Pyramid of Community.”  The African recognizes in this Pyramid of Community seven stages of development and growth towards Elder-hood (Shemsu) and seven stages of development and growth towards Ancestor-hood (Tepa). Each stage is marked by a period of seven years. Continue Reading →

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Our elders are the carriers of our culture

For three-and-a-half years, a group of amazing people have been attending monthly gatherings here at the Cultural Wellness Center. Three-and-a-half years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of seniors at Sabathani Community Center on the topics of culture and wellness. I did not expect such a deep relationship would evolve. I readily accepted the invitation at the time because of the cultural studies that have given birth to my understanding of the value of the Ancestors and the Elders in African thought and spirituality. These two roles epitomize the old hymn “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, Soldiers of the Lord.”

As we study African culture, we see how our people who have endured horrific treatment, direct destruction, and indescribable pain were able to preserve their spirit by creating metaphors of heaven as a place of refuge and salvation, through songs, stories, life ways and community laws. Continue Reading →

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Godfather of Black psychology identifies Black strengths needed to counter harmful impact of mass media



By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer



Black youth today “have a future of unknown opportunities…and need our support to get there,” said a longtime advocate for youth empowerment at a February 26 Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Black History Month event held at the MPS Davis Center. Retired psychologist Dr. Joseph White spoke to nearly 150 people on the importance of young Blacks understanding their strengths. A pioneer of culturally relevant practices in education, youth development and psychology, White was in town last week and made several appearances for Black History Month sponsored by Minneapolis-based Youthprise and the Cultural Wellness Center. “When we talk about our youth, the last remaining challenge in America is taking charge of our destiny. That is the challenge now in the 21st century,” White proclaimed, adding that Blacks have survived “two periods of Black history” in this country. Continue Reading →

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Ancient African knowledge holds key to trusting ourselves and others



The Black man/woman is the temple that absorbs the planetary influences of the cosmos. The Black man/woman is not a helpless creature in this drama of life, nor is he/she held helpless by circumstances around him or her. The planets are within man/woman; they may initiate reaction and inner impulses from within, but freedom from such planetary influences could be ours if we were masters of ourselves.  

An Elder of an ancient African spiritual tradition 

The lack of self-mastery for the Black man/woman is a phenomenon that affects every aspect of existence, one that has caused a disengaged state and a broken will to fully participate in life. However, this state was not produced in a vacuum, but instead begins with the African’s separation from his intellectual and spiritual heritage, his homeland, and a rootedness in culturally authentic concepts of community living. Continue Reading →

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More than ever, we need to resurrect the spiritual teachings of our Ancestors



“We are in trouble as a People” is a statement that I hear many times over the course of a week from people in the community, both younger and older. I hear stories from children who tell of the painful experience of being isolated from their biological parents, children who have been abandoned by their families and their community.  When I hear mothers and fathers say that they “hate” each other, and that the only reason they interact is to parent the child they have in common, I find myself moaning and groaning just to cope with the heaviness that sits in their words and their stories. I find myself moaning and groaning to release the heaviness which has penetrated my heart, a heaviness that has been transmitted from generation to generation as a result of the experience of living under conditions of restriction, constraint and brutality — conditions uglier than any other to take place in human history. Just as our people created the art of humming or praising in song, I find myself turning to the moaning and groaning as a form of relief, because I know that if our Ancestors were able to survive what the enslavers brought upon us, then surely I can — we can — survive what we are now bringing upon ourselves. During times of great struggle, pain and suffering, the spiritual teachings of our Ancestors surge forward from within us. Continue Reading →

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Our stories and symbols can restore our authentic Black selves

Third of a three-part column

This is the last in a three-part series focused on the effects that enslavement, cultural uprooting, and geographical and spiritual dispersing have had on our culture — Black culture — and the ways that we relate to ourselves and each other at present. During the late 1800s, after savagely ripping many of the human resources from our land of our origin, colonists stripped Africa of its natural resources, which were then divided among the British, French, Portuguese, Italians and Dutch. These European colonists installed a system of imperial rule where they were able to claim these resources as their own. The process of imperialism meant that people were colonized — instead of being African, they were taught to carry the identity of their colonizers and thus to assist them in unleashing the forces of generational self-destruction. One writer described this plight of self-destruction as lasting into “perpetuity,” meaning it would never end. Continue Reading →

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Freeing the spirit involves reunion with the ancient self

There is no doubt that as a people we have come a long way in our struggle to overcome some of the most brutal experiences in the history of humankind; social movements as well as legal and political avenues have given us the means to overcome slavery, Jim Crow, and a host of other oppressive forces and atrocities. Yet, there is one struggle that appears to be ongoing, and that is the struggle to heal and build: specifically, to heal the pain stemming from disconnection from culture, loss of community, and separation from our intellectual heritage. Building on opinions expressed by some of our most well-known thinkers, activists and writers, in this article I will address community development from a cultural standpoint, because, as I have been taught by life, it is culture which provides the necessary foundation for a people to heal, work together and build. In my current role as a student of culture and life, I often call upon experiences I had as a child while living in the Mississippi Delta. It was while living in the Delta, an area considered one of the most destitute places in the United States, where I learned from an early age that Black people survived, maintained their integrity, and built economies using culture as the source. Continue Reading →

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Begin a home-based library that affirms Black intellect and culture



First, I want to thank the Spokesman Recorder for a concerted effort to maintain a steady flow of important quality information about the life and times of our community. Many people of African heritage and some of other cultural groups have written different literature about the Black experience, including interpretations of the impact of the horrific conditions under which we have lived for over 25 generations. There is a collection of written materials in several places such as libraries and universities like the Givens collection locally. Materials written about us by us include newspaper and magazine articles, peer-reviewed scholarly articles covering everything from the slave trade to awful public hangings of our people. Many writers have pursued studies that document our pain, our suffering and our victimization at the hands of the people who enslaved us. Continue Reading →

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