Black Lives Matter (BLM), Racism, and Ultimate Well-Being
Recognize and unlearn the racism that lies within you and Black Lives Matter (BLM)
“We are living in a racism pandemic.”
Sandra L. Shullman, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association
We cannot talk about well-being without addressing Black Lives Matter (BLM). The events of the past few weeks have re-exposed the devastating effects of systemic racism and police brutality have on Black people in America. As a team of professionals dedicated to learning, teaching, and testing paths to individual and collective well-being, we are––by definition––committed to addressing the racism that permeates both our industry and our selves. Solving this crisis involves every single one of us, but especially those of us who are white. This newsletter focuses on the inextricable intersection between race, racism, and Ultimate Well-Being––and on ensuring that our community understands that a life well-lived cannot be fully realized until racism and white favored systems are dismantled.
Racism, and especially anti-Black racism, causes immeasurable harm to us all. The American Public Health Association defines racism as a public health crisis. Racism is both a direct and indirect cause of mental and physical health disparities, and its impacts are due not only to overt racism but to deep structural and systemic racism and daily microaggressions as well. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a call to our community to lift up a group who is suffering
Kurt here. I’m a white man, born and raised in the American south. Growing up, I attended two high schools in South Carolina. One was predominantly Black, the other predominantly white. I learned directly from classmates and friends about disparities in wealth and opportunity and witnessed rampant segregation and injustice. As I shuffled between schools, I saw the massive disparities and also what it’s like to be born into and raised in different communities.
Despite centuries of activism and civil rights work, white people are still indoctrinated with privileged assumptions about Black people and their humanity. Both overtly and covertly, we’re still taught to think of Black Americans as criminals, dangerous, or uneducated. As less-than. The movement of Black Lives Matter (BLM) wants change.
If I’ve learned anything from my time on earth and my extensive travel it’s that, as white people, we are all complicit. We are also primarily responsible for the societal changes that must be made to realize racial equity and justice.
For our BIPOC friends and readers: Know that we value your health and well-being immensely, and our team is committed to taking perpetual action to support your healing and flourishing. As of this month, we are in the process of revamping our Ultimate Well-Being framework into a program that jointly focuses on anti-racism, systems change, and collective and individual self-care.
Practicing self-care and radical self-love, especially in the context of systems that devalue your body, can disrupt those same systems of power that rely on your self-deprecation. We believe is both powerful and radical to unconditionally love yourself. Your holistic well-being, psychological safety and self-love matter.
For our white friends and readers: We call on all of you to take up the work of challenging and dismantling systems that perpetuate inequality and injustice. There are those that rely upon favoritism which leads to racism. On the extreme, there is white supremacy which I hope no one condones. As individuals and as members of society, our “Ultimate Well-Being” cannot be achieved until we eliminate systems that create gaps and disparities in bodily safety, socioeconomic mobility, and access to healthcare.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you’re new to the phrase “silence is violence,” make it a new daily mantra. Speak up when you see or hear racism. Speak up against systems that perpetuate disproportionate harm and violence. Speak up when you see inequitable treatment in your neighborhoods, schools, or workplaces. Speak up because it will make all of our lives better.
Reflect inwards. Get uncomfortable––with your privilege and/or your luxuries. Recognize and then unlearn the racism that lies within you––within all of us. Read, watch, and listen. Keep educating yourself and others. Have hard conversations with your families and friends. Start NOW––and keep going.
For our non-Black and white friends and readers: we hope you find these calls to challenge anti-Blackness valuable. We want to note that, while we recognize how complex racial identity is, the focus of our message today is to acknowledge and highlight particular ways the racial history of the United States has targeted Blackness.
As a wellness-focused organization, KDAlive is committed to acting as an accomplice to movements combating the racism that exists in the fiber of all our societies. Some of you know how much we love distance running, so a gentle reminder here: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re in this for the long haul, and are so grateful we get to run this race alongside you.
For those interested in reading more, we’ve compiled a list of resources about privilege, racism, and wellness practices for those experiencing oppression below. We’ll continue to share more and hope that, in turn, you’ll share what you’re learning and implementing in the coming weeks and months.
The KDAlive team
Wellness and Anti/Racism
- Why Self-Love and Self-Care are Radical For Black Women
- Therapy for Black Girls (podcast on well-being and mental health for Black womxn)
- The Loveland Foundation (therapy fund founded by Black thought leader Rachel Cargle)
- 13 Black-Owned Wellness Resources To Use When Things Get Heavy
Becoming an Educated Accomplice
- 75 things white people can do for racial justice (something for everyone)
- Anti-racism resources for white people (books, articles, movies and action items)
- Unpacking Whiteness (explore whiteness and racism through a Zen Buddhist lens)
- Racism is a public health crisis (context-building for the intersectionality of racism, anti-racism, health and well-being)