DIASPORIC SOUL provides healing-centered leadership development experiences in Senegal, West Africa for Black students.
Diasporic Soul healing-centered leadership development experiences are designed for learners to deepen their capacity to be self-aware, loving, inter-culturally competent leaders who practice self-care and recognize their capacity for healing, restoration, resilience and resistance so that they are able to collaborate with others in order to create change and pursue healing justice. Our healing-centered approach integrates culture and contemplative practices, including yoga, healing rituals and reflective journaling.
Why Healing-Centered Leadership Development for Black Students?
“Black students continue to be subjected to the imposing and colonizing standards, traditions, and epistemologies that maintain white supremacy and perpetuate anti-blackness in the academy,” notes Dr. Kyra Shahid in Anti-Black Racism and Epistemic Violence (Sentio 2018). As Shahid and her Django Praxis student co-authors detail in the text and as Ebony O. McGee and David Stovall speak to in “Reimagining Critical Race Theory in Education: Mental Health, Healing, and the Pathway to Liberatory Praxis,” “Black students are expected to exert excessive amounts of psychological and emotional energy to manage stress in academic and social contexts, as well as systemic and everyday racism, which can be overwhelming and taxing. In fact, Stovall and McGee explain that “the significant injustice of societal racism takes a toll even on those students who appear to be the toughest and most successful. Black students face the constant threat of perceived intellectual inferiority rooted in notions of white supremacy produce anxiety, trauma, and general unpleasantness for them and their peers.”
In fact, the racial trauma and racial stress injury black students face is further exacerbated by the fact that, according to the USC Race and Equity Center‘s Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities: A 50-State Report Card far too many colleges and universities are “failing black students.” Findings that Dr. Shaun Harper and his team based on three key metrics – representation or actual enrollment of Black students, success i.e. graduation rates and Black faculty:student rates.
Further, as, renowned and celebrated author-activist Alice Walker advises us, “healing begins where the wound was made.” Painful wounds, historic and inter-generational, that are certainly rooted in the fact that our ancestors were subjected to forced migration, kidnapping, colonization, and enslavement and that today we continue to experience the brutality of white supremacy, epistemic violence and anti-black racism. And other intersecting forms of oppression.
Thus, our healing-centered leadership development approach that reflects our lived experiences as Diasporic Souls who fell madly in love and who have been committed to challenging systemic white supremacy in our professional lives in the United States. More so, our approach reflects the Senegalese wisdom traditions that Eddy imbues and my long-standing affinity for healing and restorative counter narratives to white supremacy in literary works by Black writers and in hip hop. Our approach also reflects the wisdom and insights of healers, yoga practitioners, youth workers and activists who create inclusive healing spaces and justice for Black people. In particular, in the realm of healing arts, this includes Stacy Sims’ True Body Project somatics training and Dr. Gail Parker’s work on race-based stress injury, self-care and restorative yoga. As well as Shaun Ginwright’s thought piece on healing-centered youth engagement (2018) and the Black Lives Matter’s ongoing calls for healing justice. Using the term healing-centered to modify leadership development provides a description that further reflects our commitment to the healing and restoration of Black people. We do so with the belief that we can remain resilient and engage in resistance acutely aware that collective struggle requires healing and restoration as well as an ongoing self-care practice and cultural restoration.
Our students’ experiences take place in spaces that are culturally restorative. Spaces filled with love and SOUL., which, reflecting the insights and wisdom of Alice Walker and Sharon Harrell, is a transformative healing resource that reflects our long standing cultural sensibilities as members of the African Diaspora.
This includes their pilgrimage “home” to Senegal, West Africa. The collective and communal nature of SOUL includes having our students recognize that they are part of an extended beloved community that includes their family members who are deceased, their ancestors, and vibrant, thriving and dynamic Black cultural space like Senegal — a community that can support their healing and ongoing well-being. In that vein, we strive to foster our students’ deeply felt sense of belonging through the intimate and familial relationship they establish with one another and that we establish with them as their hosts and facilitators. In this way, we are Ton Ton Eddy and Ta Ta Phyllis, serving as accessible elder-mentors in a community they belong to during their time in Senegal with us and after.
Additionally, we offer learners the opportunity to earn Sentio’s Global Competency Certification as a part of their Diasporic Soul Healing-Centered Leadership Development Experience so that they can communicate the inter-cultural competency they develop with us.