Your Garden will flourish when you stop looking over the fence.
Greetings! I hope the day finds you well.
I’ve had some lovely messages from some of you on social media, and thought it would be nice to share them here. It’s always great getting feedback because this work is not easy, and I’m always mindful to deliver my best practices with truth and tenderness. When I get the feedback I do, it’s a great reminder that I am on the right track with my vision to serve you. Here are the screen shots, I particularly love the one written in patois. Have a blessed and beautiful day. 😊
One of the things that keeps us trapped inside our racial pain is our disconnection from the truth, our truth. Many of us like the idea of living authentically in this regard, but it’s much harder to practice inside a system which aggressively demands the abandonment of our blackness.
Neely Fuller Jr. and Dr Francis Cress-Welsing dedicated their lives to teaching the world how this social cancer infects us in all areas of people activity; education, entertainment, economics, labour, law, politics, religion, sex, and war.
It’s aggressive nature along with the layers of intergenerational powerlessness, means that many of us have unconsciously learned to accept dishonesty as part of our daily lives. We also codependently believe that not speaking our black truth will save us from future pain.
When we are unaware of how this racist confusion is maintained, we unconsciously enable the system’s breeding, and remain vulnerable to absorbing a legacy which murders the souls of our people.
Exploring my cultural needs in the early stages of growth was a painful experience, as I separated from my internalised racist thinking and began reclaiming my true sense of self. Some mornings, I still wake up feeling like a dumb negro, and other times I remember that me and my blackness are the magnificence of Ra in human form. This racist, boomerang confusion and self awareness is part of the growth process we must face to purge ourselves of the lies of white supremacy.
The journey to black empowerment includes layered cycles of dismantling, grieving, discovering and recovering the deeper parts of ourselves. As we begin to understand our personal patterns of hiding from the truth, we can find healthy way to start living more authentically. Our brilliance will blossom as we shed the layers of self hate, and surround ourselves with the greatness of others who mirror and remind us who we are.
Just for today, I can lower the walls of denial with kindness, by first being compassionate with myself. When I speak my truth, I manifest my power. When I live my truth, I am unstoppable.
As I search for my truth, the truth will find me.
I am truth.
In honor of today’s reflection about Alethiology (the study of truth), I have created this cool collection of attire to go with it. I’ve had lots of fun this weekend reviewing my shop for the autumn and I’m well chuffed with these simple pieces which some up everything that the Yard of Greatness is about.
But wait….I nearly forgot that you will also get 20% off the Yardie Attire from today Oct 31st until Nov 6th.
Use the Code: SAVE20NOW when you checkout! and tweet me a picture of you in it @yardofgreatness
Why not register to learn more about Dr Francis Cress-Welsing’s work in my book club launching next year. You can buy a copy of ‘The Isis Papers’ text beforehand by clicking on the picture below. See you next time!
Greetings fam, This Is A Yardie First!
I was asked to be part of an international group of callers from outside the US on the Concept of White Supremacy radio show (C.O.W.S) with Gus T. Renegade. It was his monthly Sunday global talk about Racism. I really enjoyed being on the panel and I talked a lot more than I thought I would considering I was so nervous beforehand. I was so conscious of talking too much at one point, I had to shut myself up! We talked about Black History Month, racism and black parenting etc. I also was able to share for the first time about my upcoming book club launch next year honouring Dr Francis Cress- Welsing. You can register your interest at www.theisispapersbookclub.com It is terrifying doing all this stuff for the first time, but I also, absolutely love this process and the transformation I am experiencing being more visible as a black business women. Thank you all for your support and here is the interview recorded on Sunday 16 October 2016. The title of the show ‘Global Sunday Talk on Racism’ here is the replay.
I’ve been going through a lot of content recently and realise I’ve been in my perfectionism around my blog instead of having fun with it and posting more of my journey. There have been so many awesome things that have happened since starting my business in June and I’ve decided to share a lot more of it with you. I’ll be posting the random throwbacks as I dig them out.
This first throwback was a powerful little event hosted by Nadine Dash called ‘I am potential’ There were some amazing young speakers who provoked thought and reminded us that all that negative stereotype we often see in the media is not the truth about our amazing community. It’s always great to connect with those creating positive change. Here I am with motivational speaker DrG aka Gersham Allen.
Hey Mindful Yardies, I hope the day finds you well? I came across this campaign recently which is really close to my heart and had to share it with you to see if you can help?
Training to become a psychotherapist is an incredibly difficult path. Not only because you’re required to bare your soul as part of the process, but as a black person, you also have to navigate the racial dynamics inside a system which still has a long way to go in serving the needs of people of colour.
To address this issue, Eugene Ellis, founded the Black and Asian Therapists Network (BAATN). The project provides mutual support for practicing therapists, along with an amazing platform to meet the therapeutic needs of our community. I have used their services both personally and professionally as part of my ongoing psychotherapy training. It has been an amazing community to safely explore and identify with others regarding the challenges of racism inside these learning institutions.
In building the future of BAATN, the project needs your support today to address the high drop-out rate of students in training by offering an ‘Each One Teach One’ mentorship programme. The project has already been running for a few years but needs a boost and there are only a few days left to pledge!
Please give what you can, our community needs to support these new therapists so we can provide the services you deserve!
The true meaning of wealth has been lost under the guise of cash hustle, generational assets and shiny, big ticket trinkets. In our aggressive pursuit of wealth, we can get stuck in the fantasy that having more, means that we are more.
Emotional wealth on the other hand, is a deeper level of understanding and ownership of our emotions. When we’re emotionally wealthy, our life has meaning. We can love fiercely and grieve deeply. We stand in our truth, even if it sometimes means standing alone. We nurture our sense of worthiness and receive abundance in all its forms.
As a consequence of our abusive racial history, many of us did not inherit healthy tools for nurturing our emotional wealth. Instead, we were passed down dysfunctional legacies of shame, disconnection and anger. We were robbed of our ability to be happy in the enmeshed expectations and demands of others.
We all deserve the right to thrive in an environment which mirrors our commitment to abundant personal growth. In our culture of denial and avoidance, many of us are afraid to feel our feelings, but sharing in a safe space can help us understand our pain, and open the door to relief, wisdom and clarity. When our inner circle is emotionally broke, we can give ourselves permission to detach with love and move forward with those committed to change.
Emotional wealth is the root where all riches are seeded. To be happy, we must protect and nurture it like a savings account. Regularly deposit positive emotions and cultural experiences to build racial esteem. Be mindful of any people, systems or things trying to make unauthorised withdrawals. We cannot control the behavior of those trying to get access, but we have full control over how we respond and take care of our account.
Fearless ownership of our emotions means that our happiness becomes a magnet for abundant financial wealth in its purest form. When we commit to taking better care of ourselves, we also create a legacy of racial serenity, strength and empowerment within our family and the community.
Today, I claim my right to happiness, just as I am. In this moment, I own my feelings and choose some loving actions to nurture my well being.
And so it is.
Till next time
June. aka Mindful Yardie
If you enjoyed today’s Yard Reflections and think it may empower someone, please share it with a friend or on your social media.
Now that the school summer break is in full swing, how’s it going? Are you tired and fed up yet? I’m sure a lot of parents on social media saw the meme’s flying around at the end of term showing teachers jumping for joy, and parents already counting the days till their children return to school in the autumn. As much as we love them, caring for our children over the summer can often be emotionally exhausting. Many of us are left daunted by how we can enjoy the break and hold onto our last frazzled nerve at the same time.
A couple of summers ago beneath my fake, ‘strong black mother’ cape, I secretly dreaded the holidays and buried my shame around not really understanding how to bond or connect with my child. To avoid these feelings, my default was always to lean on the summer clubs so I wouldn’t be emotionally overwhelmed, or disrupted by the changes to my term time routine. Then last year, it hit me how fast my daughter Zuri was growing up. I felt ashamed and guilty about not enjoying the break, so I decided to plan a more strategic approach last year and use the space to love bomb her with cultural events and activities to make memories, focus on our relationship, and build our racial esteem as a family. This compassionate space was so powerful, that Zuri cried a lot when it was time to go back to school. I also missed her terribly which had never happened before.
Some of us may find this level of parental intimacy uncomfortable, because we’re not use to engaging with our children in this way. Our work responsibilities may create limited time, or maybe you were raised in an environment where parental play was not a priority so this feels awkward. If this is your story then it’s important to really be gentle with yourself. It might feel hard at first, but little and often works, and this is also a powerful opportunity to upgrade your pathology, and begin building a deeper legacy of connection with your child. Today, I am excited to serve you by sharing the tools and ideas we now use every year to slay our summer.
Create the space to build closeness.
In order to be more present for our families, scheduling space to have fun and hang out is crucial. This will not only be used to spend more quality time with family, but also to give yourself permission to rest and be more emotionally available during the activities. Book and schedule whatever time you can get off work (even if it’s only a few days) and reschedule anything in the family diary where possible, that doesn’t support this commitment.
Use these bullet points to build your family bucket list.
I love this part of the process because everyone gets to be involved in building the program of fun activities. Set a time and call a family meeting to brainstorm the following……
Capture the summer experience in a creative way.
With most of us posting and storing our memories on social media these days, a hard copy family diary or scrapbook is a refreshing way to record our feelings, joys, challenges and events with good old fashioned paper and pen. A trip to the local pound/dollar store will provide plenty of scrapbook crafts to bring the joyous family quotes, pictures and stories to life. You can still post your fun on social media, but it’s always wonderful to read the diary entries at a later date and relive the warm fuzzy feelings that accompanied them.
Teaching life skills, feeds empowerment.
Teaching is so much more powerful than rescuing, but sometimes our busyness keeps us caught up in checking off our lists, instead of empowering our children with what and how things needs to be done. Cooking a simple meal, growing something, or sharing some easy financial literacy, are simple suggestions to get you started. As your child practices and perfects her new skill, you save valuable time as she’s now empowered to complete it independently. As a natural consequence of sharing this energy, The relationship will build between you as your self esteem and confidence grows independently. As a side note, it’s also important to say that this is not only about practical tasks, but also a chance to review and teach the family values. I have an earlier post on this with a free ebook, which will help you define and implement them as a family. www.juneallen.net/values
Build racial esteem with cultural education.
The summer break is now one of our favourite times of year to work as a team, (hopefully with some sunshine) to explore, educate and celebrate our identity. What could be more irresistible to our black children than having a cultural learning experience within the community with engaged parents who adore spending time with them. In this month already, my daughter and I have attended our annual African storytelling festival which honoured the late Jamaican poet, Louise Bennett. We’ll be highlighting Marcus Garvey’s birthday on 17th August and also attend the annual steel band competition on 27th August at the Notting Hill Carnival. The African presence is not always taught appropriately (if at all) in ‘mainstream’ European dominated education. However, our cultural S/hero’s continue to provide a rich hue of flavor and black brilliance around the globe so we must continue to absorb and re-tell their stories as part of our legacy.
I know this piece has focused specifically on the summer holidays, but including more time for family to play during term time (even if its a hour at the weekend) is a great way to nurture and maintain your family self care. If your summer break has been a disaster up to this point, I hope this piece has provided some value to give yourself permission to restart and reclaim the joy in your family space! When we make the time to prioritise and implement these tools, our children will not only experience our love for them, but also how much we actually like them and adore being in their. I’d love to know you spent yours in the comments below.
Have fun,till next time.
With all the tragedy in recent weeks along with our daily busyness, it can often be hard to stop, reflect, and be present. Our overstimulated minds from aggressive advertising, multitasking and the illusion of needing more, constantly robs us of our inner calm and natural, spiritual place of wholeness.
We belong in nature, and when I give myself permission to take a power pause and reconnect to the earth, I remember how easy it is to attune to my Higher Power, especially around trees. The glorious weather in London has been the perfect excuse to wander barefoot in the park and recharge my melanoid soul.
Being outdoors during the summer has always been an important family event and I’ve taken my daughter camping at music festivals ever since 2010 (when she was 2). Despite enjoying the time we spent at these festivals, there was always a longing to experience it at a deeper, cultural level with other black people. Last year, I could hardly contain my excitement at discovering a wonderful organisation who flipped the ‘black folks don’t camp’ myth on its head. I finally found a space where melanin rich folks could celebrate our culture through the power of storytelling.
I know there’ll be those who whine that having black only spaces is ‘reverse racism.’ P.S.A. Black people cannot be racist, because our choices do not affect white people as a group, e.g. we can hate racist white folks all we want, but it won’t stop your whiteness being prioritised for a job, bank loan, housing etc. but I digress and that conversation is for another blog post. The truth is, these black spaces are needed in response to, and having some respite from the ongoing everyday racism we experience. Also, with all the recent racial trauma and deaths, it is even more difficult for us to grieve and heal as a community, so it’s actually as healthy boundary, and act of self love to take time out from the people and structures which enforce and enable the abuse. It’s important just to spend time with each other in our shared experience to recharge.
My first experience at the African Storytelling festival when I arrived, was excitement in the car park as brotha’s and sistah’s pulled up in over packed cars, with children hungry for woodland freedom. There was a warm sense of family from the beginning, I had offers to help build my tent, and Zuri (my daughter) was off in a flash exploring and chatting to other children as they arrived. The storytelling workshops were a wonderful opportunity to share and identify, we learn history, our values, spirituality and the importance of community. The performances were also powerful tools for connection that had me initially terrified of speaking amongst strangers, to embracing a childlike joy as I embraced the freedom of engagement. We must never underestimate the glory of hearing stories about us, told by us. Mirroring is a powerful tool for building our identity and raising self esteem.
I cannot even begin to convey how healing it was to absorb the power of the drum which echoed through the woods the whole weekend. I remember thinking, despite the traumatic journey of my ancestors from Africa, to Jamaica and then onto the UK, my soul remembers it’s source, the rhythms, the fyah and ancestral energy ricochet straight back from the Motherland.
One of my favorite memories last year, was when a large group of us were strewn over the grass outside my tent, reasoning, sharing and laughing as we shared food and snacks. My pot became became their pot. I arrived a stranger and became an sistah to many, the auntie to a beautiful little girl who was happy popping by to explore my tent and play with my daughter. The campfire at night was a delicious space for chatter and song, I even saw a breadfruit being roasted and devoured with abandon. I felt right at home, here is a sneak peak from last year.
As the year has flown past and the countdown begins before to unpack my tent again, I just had to grab the founder and powerful warrior for a chat about how this project was brought to life and what to expect this year.
JA: Tell us about yourself and your movement?
GC: My name is Griot Chinyere, and I’m a storyteller and the artistic director to ashanti-chi which is a company whose main aim is to promote, preserve and celebrate the oral tradition of African storytelling. I use it as a leadership tool to train and empower people. I use it with children, adults, prisoners, young people, the suited and booted, the rough and ready, domestic violence victims, the homeless etc. It’s a powerful tool that was introduced to me at 10 years old and I love the healing power it gives when used correctly.
JA: How did the festival project come about?
GC: I come from a long line of storytellers and I wanted to find another way to preserve the tradition. I have also been to lots of others festivals where I’ve been the minority and loved being outdoors, but always wondered where my community was? I’m not one to complain about things so I wanted to do something about it. I began by doing some expedition leadership training where I learned how to build fires, map & compass reading, food foraging etc. and then I worked to combine the things I love about the old traditions and nature, together for people who looked like me. When I was 10, I went home to my mother’s village and it was an amazing feeling to experience being in a village, to be surrounded by people who look like me and recognise me. There are many (Africans) who live in the UK who may never have that experience, so I wanted to create a space for us to be who we are, where we are. This is how the Nne Agwu Afrakan storytelling festival was born.
JA: How has the festival evolved over the years since it started?
GC: When I first started it was just an evening with a few storytellers walking through the woods. It then progressed to an overnight event from 6pm till 6am, then 2 nights and it grew from there.
JA: Why do you think black folks don’t camp?
GC: When I first started, I heard a lot of people saying that they didn’t want to do the camping thing, but I’ve noticed over the years that more people are willing to give camping a try. There is also the option to attend the day’s events and not camp overnight, the venue is accessible via the tube.
JA: What can campers expect from the festival this year?
GC:It’s the first year that we are using the festival to honour someone. It was mentioned that it was the 10 anniversary of Louise Bennett (Miss Lou’s) death on 27 July and how did I feel about honouring her this time which was a no brainer. She was a storyteller, a poet, a folklorist, an oral traditionalist more than anything. She went to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) in England, and although they spoke BBC English, she was an advocate for her authentic, Jamaican voice. She probably stopped a lot of Jamaican children getting clipped around the ear for speaking patois, as they became familiar with her work. The way that she told her stories, as well as the stories themselves encouraged Jamaicans to be proud of who they are, it was an acceptance of self. She also revealed the connection between patois and some of the African languages, for example in Igbo language, we say ndeewu means, greetings to you (one person) but if there were many people it’s ndeewunu and unu in Jamaican patois means you many. She was able to make those important connections across our journey.
Linton Kwesi Johnson is a massive fan of Louise Bennett and has recently become our patron. His poetry tells stories which transforms the negative to the positive. He provokes thought with ways of moving forward, giving us jokes so we feel good about who we are. We are having our opening ceremony with him on the Friday. I am also hoping that one of Louise Bennett’s relatives will also attend. We want to set the right tone so we can enjoy the space and support each other and any newcomers.
Throughout the weekend we have musicians, yoga, night walks and the best storytellers from around the country. We have a wonderful vegan chef, a wellbeing area, a herbalist, and a small African market with actor Chris Tummings who will be sharing his hand made bamboo saxophones. It’s our way of connecting with and honouring our ancestors. We give thanks and listen in order for us to rise and shine in our greatness.
Whether you’re able to make the festival or not, make some time to get outdoors and explore Ra’s glorious creation, it’s great for your health and an amazing opportunity for family self care. For my melanoid family in the US, I found this gorgeous site which organises inspiring camping events for black people. http://www.outdoorafro.com/
The Nne Agwu storytelling festival runs from Friday 29th July, to Monday 1 August 2016 Full details and the line up can be found below. Don’t miss it!
In my previous post, I shared Jesse William’s powerful speech from the BET music awards, where he shared the unapologetic truth about our black pain. Many felt empowered at being acknowledged on such a public platform, and his speech along with our appreciation went viral. However like clockwork, it didn’t take long for white supremacy to slap the hope out of our mouths, with an onslaught of black male murders, committed by racist white law enforcement. This erupted into violence, where officers were also killed in the fall out.
As I send virtual condolences to the families of the deceased, I am also deeply concerned about the impact of the video murders of Alton Sterling, and Philandro Castile on our black psyches. One of the most valuable commodities in maintaining white supremacy, is our ongoing traumatisation and emotional abuse. When we remain in this confused state, it’s much easier for us to be manipulated and controlled on mass.
I chose not to watch any of the videos, because seeing my people killed with impunity is to upsetting, and I need to be as present as possible in order to be productive. It’s hard enough that I’ve been trying to finish this post for the last 2 days, but my insomnia and the daily rise in dead bodies meant that I needed to just surrender to being human, and take some time to collect myself, before coming back with something supportive from an emotionally sober place. Now that I have refueled a bit, I’m sharing 5 simple tools to help you manage your racial stress.
Process not projection.
When we’re exposed to this trauma, we can feel powerless, angry and numb as a consequence of the initial racist abuse, and then the secondary social abandonment. Our body reacts to this emotional violence, by generating the energy which prepares us for a fight or flight response. If this is not discharged, it can end up being negatively recycled and projected unconsciously into our closest relationships. This means that our heightened state may cause more irrational responses towards our loved ones. We may also feel resentment, mistrust and anxiety around other white people in our personal and/or professional circles. These feelings are all completely normal, and if we’re able to be honest with ourselves whilst practicing the other tools, we’re less likely to act on them in a destructive way.
Discharge the energy.
Discharging this energy involves doing an activity which will help to process and move the stress outside the body. When I woke up this morning, I was exhausted from very little sleep and still feeling anxious and emotionally numb. However, after 30 mins of Jamaican style movement to some banging Afrobeats, I felt a lot more present and willing to engage the day. Other suggestions include,
Self – Soothing
Self soothing techniques can really help the recovery process, as you consciously practice behaviors which will reconnect you to yourself. This self care is about self-compassion, being gentle in the same way you would a young child. Use each of your 5 senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch) and right a list of your favorite things to build a self-soothing toolkit. You will recognise a lot of these simple techniques, but to practice them more consciously will empower you inside this system of powerlessness.
Community spaces, particularly at this traumatic time are incredibly important. Choose one that feels safe with people you trust to share feelings and give support. Religious organisations and culturally specific support or recovery groups can be great resources to find help and explore your feelings. Community empathy from your tribe can be very healing and great for processing our collective grief.
Our personal boundaries mean that we can identify and communicate clearly what is acceptable to us. At this vulnerable time, the natural reaction may be to withdraw and protect ourselves emotionally and psychologically, so understanding where the boundaries are, are an essential part of the healing. It will also help to have an honest discussion with your family about how you will deal with this, and be clear on where your boundaries are as a unit. Consider carefully where your triggers are regarding social media and take a break if needed.
In closing, Jesse Williams explained that ,‘it is not the job of the oppressed to comfort the bystander,’ so if you need to take some temporary time away from your white friendships, give yourself permission to do so. You are under no obligation to justify or engage in conversation about your boundaries with any white supremacist, ‘all lives matter,’ ‘not all white people,’ ‘what about black on black crime,’ ‘not all cops,’ ‘yeah, but he should have moved his right foot,’ rhetoric, which are clear deflections from the truth about the war on black people. It’s your pain, your choice.
Be tender with yourself, till next time