The killing of unarmed Black citizens at the hands of police officers occurs far too often. While many of us grapple with how we can be active in our communities and lend our voices to a righteous cause, one of the most important things we can’t overlook during these times of crisis is self-care.
That’s why Dr. Candice Nicole Hargons created the Black Lives Matter Meditations for Healing and Trauma. Though the project (which has no formal affiliation with the Black Lives Matter movement) was released in 2017, the affirmations and tools have, sadly, proven to be evergreen in their impact.
She spoke with Blavity about her process creating this meaningful meditation, the response to it and how it still can be used in our current climate.
Dr. Hargons is the director of master's training of counseling psychology at the University of Kentucky and founding director of the Center for Healing Racial Trauma. It was her experience, not only as a clinician but as a Black woman, that allowed her to see the necessity for this type of guided meditation and affirmation.
“It was 2016 and there was a summer-long onslaught of publicized murders of Black people, including Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and her child. I had been closely following the accumulation of news stories about the brutality toward and murder of Black people since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, but terrorism and violence against Black people was not new,” the Spelman graduate noted.
“I figured if I needed it, other Black people might also benefit from having it too,” she continued.
And it wasn't just her experience in the medical field which led to the creation of the BLM meditation. Hargons said she decided what affirmations to use when she considered what “clients, students, colleagues, and loved ones” had expressed to her when recounting experiences of racism.
“The affirmations were designed to contradict what white supremacy says about Black people,” she told Blavity.
Hargons has since continued with initiatives that address racial trauma as it relates to mental health. She collaborated with scholar-activists to publish a paper on the Black Lives Matter movement for psychologists and founded the Center for Healing Racial Trauma. She also helped with the development of the Collective Care Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville also happened to be home of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was killed by police during a raid on her boyfriend's home, as Blavity previously reported. The proximity isn't lost on Hargons.
“Breonna Taylor's story is literally close to home because reports said she was an alum of UK and she lived in Louisville. As a Black woman, I want her story to be known and supported with the enthusiasm of Ahmaud Arbery's story because they are both deserving of our attention,” she said.
Her death came less than a month after 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by a white father and son while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood.
Thus, the meditation continues to hold important space for those seeking a release.
“I regularly get emails or DMs about how people are using it, and I am so happy. I made sure it was free so it would be widely accessible," Hargons said.
She said her meditation has received over 7,600 listens on SoundCloud and more than 5,000 on her professional website.
"It's [also] been posted on university counseling center websites, therapists use it with their clients, teachers use it with their students, and people have written about it in their dissertations,” Hargons added.
She also gave advice for those of us struggling to wrap our brains around the killings of Arbery and Taylor while also dealing with a pandemic the Black community is being disproportionately affected by.
“One, pay attention to the sensations in your body. Notice how you're breathing and where you feel muscle tension or pain. These are indicators of racial trauma that most of us don't recognize," Hargons advised.
"Two, take five minutes daily to do deep breathing, meditate, pray, or stretch. Of course you can take more, but this is a good start," she continued. "Workout, move your body, or dance too. Three, place affirmations around your house that celebrate your Blackness. Four, continue listening to music and intaking joyful media."