The Federal Way Black Collective believes in the power of providing.
Leaders of the Federal Way Black Collective (FWBC) partnered with The League of Extraordinary People to start Health and Wellness Mondays, a weekly Facebook Live segment with Alfred White and guest moderators to discuss issues impacting people of color.
“You can help people all you want … but if you’re not fixing what’s inside of yourself, you’re broken,” said Lyn Idahosa, FWBC executive director. “You can’t do your best work if you’re not working on yourself.”
The first event with Alfred White, founder of the League of Extraordinary People, featured a discussion on adverse childhood experiences on Jan. 4.
White neared death when he consumed one-fourth of an ounce of crack cocaine in 2004, after nearly 40 years of homelessness. When White survived, he decided to seek help. Since then, he has earned a master’s degree in ministry and psychology, and is a subject matter expert and a licensed mental health psychotherapist.
His childhood experiences have become chronic health ailments, including liver cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome. White encourages people to learn and truly know their own bodies in order to begin their healing.
While the conversations are specific to the Black community and Black service or healthcare providers, anyone and everyone should tune in, Idahosa said.
The talks help remove stigma from the term “mental health” when talking about the systemic, environmental and structural racism that contributes to the overall wellness — or illness — of people in the Black, Indiegnous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, White said during the Jan. 4 discussion.
White helped Idahosa explore the toll of her own past experiences. Medically retired from her healthcare career at age 27, Idahosa knows firsthand the damages of racism in public health entities, she said.
“Adverse childhood experiences — it doesn’t mean you grew up in an urban ghetto. It may mean not having enough love as a child,” Idahosa said. The experiences and subsequent healing is a way to know how to care about others and move through life in a healthy way, she said.
The live, virtual discussions are opportunities for viewers to reflect on their own lives and health in a multitude of aspects, and begin to process their own experiences.
“This is [an] opportunity for us to step forward as a society and be the curators of culture,” said Dre James, discussion facilitator and Access2 director. “Black people are the curators of culture; we develop music, we bring style, we bring pizazz, we bring it to the table. And this is our opportunity with these networks … to do so.”
These weekly discussions aim to increase awareness of the treatment of BIPOC community members within the healthcare system, and create virtual neighborhoods — that have not yet been gentrified — where Black people can practice vulnerability, pass information and provide resources, James said.
The Federal Way Black Collective aims to be a hub of reliable, accessible information for people of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. From funding opportunities to employment assistance, resources, upcoming events, advocacy and more, the FW Black Collective is “teaching people how to fish,” Idahosa said. “I want people to shift. I want people who access our services to become service providers.”
The Federal Way Black Collective Health and Wellness Mondays are weekly live sessions from 6:30-7 p.m. on the FW Black Collective Facebook page.