Updated: Jun 27
When we started Neuma Being, I wanted community to be a major pillar in this ecosystem. I keep bringing the conversation back to how we are all interconnected and we don't grow alone. Here, I seek to articulate this point in light of current events.
It's been a week since the brutal event that led to George Floyd's and Tony McDade's deaths. We didn't even have time to process the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor's when these happened. Countless other lives have been taken too soon in the name of "law and order," by a system designed to marginalize the lives of too many for too long. In response, communities countrywide have been taking to the streets to protest. Some of these protests have turned violent (in several cases, appearing to be instigated by pepole from outside the protests). Less than a mile away from where we live here in Downtown LA, riots have erupted and businesses and residences have been vandalized and looted. Even CA Governor concedes, the protesters are not to be blamed for systemic issues. We have collectively failed the African American community.
The backdrop of this latest round of protests and the riots is that the whole world was already under a lot of pressure with the pandemic. Most cities were under lockdown for nearly two months and, as of today, over 371,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19. In the US alone, at least 1.85 million people have been infected with COVID-19. Reports have been coming about the disproportionate impact the pandemic and economic downturn has had on African American communities.
According to this document from the CDC "current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups." Further more, "among COVID-19 deaths for which race and ethnicity data were available, New York City identified death rates among Black/African American persons (92.3 deaths per 100,000 population) and Hispanic/Latino persons (74.3) that were substantially higher than that of white (45.2) or Asian (34.5) persons." It is not a surprise that the African American community, already heavily effected by the pandemic, probably burdened disproportionately by unemployment due to pandemic, was been pushed to the edge by such flagrant acts of murder.
If a person is suffering in a community, it will impact the well-being of that specific individual. In some cases, it may lead to health implications that arise from suffering, loss or absence of delight and happiness, stress and lack due to financial and economical implications, loss of creativity and productivity. Long-term suffering causes chronic stress and burnout. In my previous post about rest, I discuss the effects of stress and burnout, as also illustrated in this diagram, below.
Now, think about this affects the immediate circle around marginalized individuals who suffer similar conditions. This may lead to a domino effect, impacting the well-being of the larger community, not unlike a viral epidemic.
Roughly 13% of the US is Black, but this community carries an oversized share of poverty, incarceration, illness and more due to systemic oppression and bias that spans centuries - along with the suffering, pain, fear, and hurt that came with it. The stress and burnout these communities experience is unfathomable to others. A large group of people in our communities are hurting. We have failed to address it properly for so long, perhaps because it's "their" problem. Protests and riots make it feel like it's "our problem." If we are truly One People, then it was always our problem. So what do we do about this? How do we come together to address this problem impacting all of us?
To begin with, there are a few things we all can do:
Participate in a peaceful protest or support those who are peacefully protesting
Donate to a fund that support bail, supporting black-owned businesses, and supporting the communities impacted by tragedies. Example: Black Lives Matter Los Angeles Chapter
Short - midterm solutions:
Educate ourselves and improve our understanding about the social injustice facing various communities, expand knowledge about "otherness"
Donate to a cause that supports the advancement of African American Communities
Support Black businesses
Become an ally and an advocate for true reform
I've seen so many resources compiling information on how you can step up right now. Some of my favorite resources are Campaign Zero, Black Lives Matter LA Toolkits, the Obama Foundation's anguish and action page.
Long term solutions: Research shows that learning and memory can be enhanced with mindfulness practices. Beyond that, Nelson and I are of strong conviction that paradigm shifts are needed to make meaningful changes to systemic problems. We believe that empathy is the key to finding equilibrium in society. Transformative, heightened restful states can result in expansions of consciousness which help us feel connected to others. Our understanding about what it is to be human takes us to a place that sees beyond otherness concepts like skin color or national origin. It can provide us with the opportunity to realize the significance of our action in the larger scheme of things, despite our ever-so-tiny presence in this vast universe. We believe that cognitive shifts and expansion of awareness are the foundation that can facilitate transformation, learning and education. This is the work we develop at Neuma Being.
It is important to us, as a brand new company, that we continue to establish an inclusive social agenda. This is why we stand with all of our brothers and sisters, regardless of skin color, race or other characteristics, to realize this dream of a better tomorrow without racial or social injustice. We want for future generations to grow up without the fear and horror of the traumas perpetuated today. This is why, at this moment, we stand with our fellow Humans of the Black community, to help them have their voices heard, help them heal and achieve the necessary changes.
As a tribute to our black brothers and sisters, I wrote this small verse last week as protests began to unfold.
Verse by Manori May 30, 2020
I invite you to join us in solidarity with our communities, and expand our knowledge so all can be treated with the dignity they deserve as human beings. I leave you with this thought.... If you had immense power to change the world for the better (money, influence, time, and all other resources needed), what would you do, today? Probably, you do not have all of these resources, yet, what concrete action can you take right now to move things in the right direction and improve the world around you?
PS 1: If you are someone or you know someone impacted by these ongoing social injustice against the black communities, please reach out. We are here for you, be in for a chat as an ally, or a healing session with out neuro-bio tech!