The events of the last several months have been deeply disturbing. They have also been catalytic.
As CMBM has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, we, like the rest of the country, have become painfully aware of the disparity in the death toll between people of color, the poor, and the elderly, and the rest of our population.
During this time, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) has brought our trauma healing work online to make easily available the programs of population-wide trauma healing that we have successfully implemented for 25 years here in the US and overseas. In our present online efforts, as well as in all the work we’ve previously done, we’ve had a significant emphasis on working with people who have been marginalized and made vulnerable by poverty and historical trauma, as well as during wars and climate related disasters. We’ve also had a deep commitment to bringing together people who have good reason to mistrust and fear one another – in the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and here in the US.
Last week’s police murder of George Floyd heightened our anguish and made us even more committed to putting our resources in the service of communities of color that have, for so long, suffered from systemic racism and violence, and economic, educational, housing, health care, and other inequities.
We have shared our pain and anger, our fears and hopes, in meetings of CMBM faculty and staff. What we have learned, including very significant input and guidance from African American members of our team, has inspired us to commit to:
1) Broaden and deepen our understanding of the influence of race and ethnicity on the way we experience ourselves, one another, and the world around us. We will:
Develop a program grounded in our model of self-awareness, self-care, and group support to explore these issues, including our unexamined biases, preconceptions, and fears.
Significantly enhance CMBM’s intellectual resources about historical trauma and the health and mental health consequences of social and economic inequities, and make them available to our faculty, staff, and trainees, as well as the larger CMBM community.
Devote increased attention in our public communications and writing to the psychological, behavioral, and health damage caused by historical trauma, racism, and oppression.
2) Sharpen our focus in our ongoing programs and devote significantly more of our resources to work with communities of color
These ongoing programs include our work in Broward County, Florida; with VISN-8, the largest division of the U.S. Veteran’s Administration; in Indiana, in our long-term partnership with Eskenazi Health; in our community work in Baton Rouge; and in our ongoing programs of trauma relief in Puerto Rico, Houston, Northern California, Western Maryland, and Haiti.
We will accelerate and expand our outreach to include more underserved African-American and indigenous communities throughout North America.
3) Enhance minority hiring and foster and support the development of minority faculty by:
Active recruitment of more minority staff for all open positions.
Enhanced minority recruitment for all our training programs. This will include significant outreach to activists, as well as health, mental health, and education professionals from minority communities across the country.
Mentorship and financial support for minority program participants who show promise to become leaders in their community and/or CMBM faculty.
Update our website to include more of the diverse faces of our CMBM community.
4) Reach out to and collaborate with groups around the country and around the world that are addressing systemic health, education, housing, and voting rights, as well as health and mental health inequities, and abuse by police, by:
Active outreach to groups focused on racial justice, advocacy, economic advancement, and healing in the African American community, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), The Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA), The Association of Black Social Workers (BSW), The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), The National Black Police Association (NBPA), and National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers (NABLEO). We hope to collaborate with these groups to explore and develop ways we can support their efforts and their membership (through Mind-Body Skills Groups, webinars, consultation on health and mental health issues caused by systemic inequities, etc).
Deepening our faculty’s already significant commitment to working with both black and white law enforcement personnel and with groups in their communities that are committed to enhancing interracial understanding and collaboration.
Holding a self-care workshop for a Black Women’s Congressional Alliance and collaborating with African-American political leaders in bringing our model of healing and growth to the communities that they represent.
Asking all our faculty to facilitate appropriate introductions to activist, health, and social welfare groups in their own communities.
These proposed changes are not new–in fact, they reflect a commitment that we have had as a community since I founded CMBM in 1991. We are grateful now for the opportunity to focus our energies and our programs more fully on this commitment.
Please address your inquiries to our Managing Director, Rosemary Murrain, who is the point of contact for organizational and community partnerships or Cathy Furst, our National Programs Manager, who will be happy to speak with individuals that are interested in our programs. You can contact them both through [email protected].
I look forward to being with you in the weeks and months ahead, and to working together to create a more just, humane, and loving world.