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Cultural Humility and Black Lives Matter

By Adam Holt, Assistant Director of the Metro Boston Recovery Learning Community. Links added for additional resources.

Last week, staff of the MBRLC recently gathered for a cultural humility training.  Cultural humility is a new concept, at least new to me, that re-frames cultural competency.  Competency can imply that you might learn all there is to know about another culture, and then you are competent.  Humility focuses on an ongoing learning process, one that counters ideas of cultural supremacy, and listens to everyone, especially the voices that have been silenced or suppressed, inviting their voice and wisdom. 

It feels especially relevant in this time to work through the ways we can be more culturally humble.  How can we listen to, learn from, and amplify voices talking about racial injustice in our country and in our community?  We have heard about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and others.  But what about our own community?

One case of police brutality that local activists are calling to re-open is the case of Terrence Coleman, who was a black Bostonian and paranoid schizophrenic, who was shot by police in 2016.  The night he died, his mother called 911 to try and get him help during a difficult episode.  Police claimed that he was brandishing a kitchen knife at them, and they shot him twice.  However, the kitchen knife later turned in as evidence was taken from the kitchen, and Mr Coleman was shot in the foyer.  No one should lose their life because of racism or mental health stigma.  I would hope that the police department and the police men involved are held responsible, so Mr Coleman’s mother and community can start to heal.  Incidents like this threaten our community as peers and need to be stopped.  The thought that one of our community members could be killed because police aren’t adequately trained to understand their mental health isn’t something I can live with.     The thought, too, that black Bostonians live in fear is impossible to bear.

I am encouraged to hear the plans to expand the clinician co-responder program, which means that more clinicians will ride along with police and help respond to behavioral health issues that they encounter.  I think this will go a long way to help deescalate potentially violent incidents, and clinicians should be able to help police understand the mental health aspects that might be at work. I am also cognizant of critiques from our community that argue that increasing the presence of mental health professionals in crisis response might lead to more institutionalization and over-medication.  I would hope that a crisis response can be created that would respect the dignity and autonomy of peers.  We need less violence, more understanding, and more cultural humility as we work on changing the system. 

I would hope, too, that black Bostonians feel that our services are places available to them for support.  I ask myself, how can I, as a white person, interrogate the beliefs I hold that buy into the system of racism in our country, and what can I do to make a positive impact?  Author and historian Dr Ibram X. Kendi has made the point that it is not enough for us to be “not racist,” we should seek to be anti-racist.  How can the MBRLC be anti-racist?  I hope this starts a dialogue in our community about the ways in which we can learn and amplify the voices of those who have not been heard. 

Free Reflexology Training on Zoom 6/29 2-4pm

“Reflexology as a Tool for Your Well-being”
with Cynthia Piltch, Ph.D., LMT, CPS
by Zoom.

Here is the link: https://bostonmedicalcenter.zoom.us/j/5468153050

Note, a flyer was posted here previously that had the wrong link.

JUNE 29 (MON.) 2:00-4:00 PM ZOOM ID#: 546 815 3050

Reflexology is an approach that helps promote Blood& Energy flow in the body by applying thumb pressure to various reflex points on the hands, ears and feet that correspond to various other parts of the body.

Participants should wear comfortable clothes & be prepared to take off shoes & socks to work on their feet.

Sponsored by Metro Boston Recovery Learning Community. Visit metrobostonrlc.org for more peer run groups currently offered remotely. Call (617) 875-4997 or email yuka.gordon@bmc.org with any questions about the MBRLC.

PSN Online Poetry Reading Event, 4/9 3:15-5:00pm

Peer Support Network of the Metro Boston Recovery Learning Community Online Poetry Reading Event

Thursday, April 9th from 3:15pm-5:00pm

Click here for the flyer!

Join us for a fun audio conference!

Gather any poems, short stories, essays or meaningful pieces of literature that you would like to read and share.

Easy access by phone, just call: Phone number: 1-866-866-2244, then when prompted enter “participant code” 6464627#, and you will be in the group!

All are welcome! Anyone can join with any type of phone.

More Info: 617-788-1034 or email Karen at kkugel@baycove.org.

ODA: BSO Streams Concert, Sunday 4/5 at 3pm

On Sunday, April 5th at 3pm the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be streaming a previously recorded concert:

Germeshausen Youth and Family Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins Leads Concert for Our City, a free performance at Symphony Hall that emphasizes “The Beautiful Sounds of Friendship.”

Thomas Wilkins, conductor
Sterling Elliott, cello
Huang Ruo, composer and singer

TCHAIKOVSKY Polonaise from the opera Eugene Onegin
GINASTERA “Malambo” from Estancia Dances
Huang RUO Folksongs for Orchestra
                 II. Love Song from Kang Ding
                 IV. The Girl from Da Ban City
WALKER Lyric for String Orchestra
DVORÁK Cello Concerto Finale (Allego moderato)
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1: Finale (Adagio—Allegro non troppo ma con brio)

This past performance was presented with a generous gift from the family of Eleanor L. Campbell in her memory.

For more details, click here.

State and Nationwide COVID-19 Resources

NAMI Compass
NAMI Compass is a phone line dedicated to connecting Massachusetts peers with the supports they need. It is a good place to call if you need help with housing, peer support groups, and many, many more resources. Call them Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm at 617-704-6264 or 1-800-370-9085, and visit their website by clicking here for more information

Mass Thrive Resource Database
If you or someone you know needs resources for medical care, food, job training, and more due to COVID-19, the Massachusetts Community Resource directory has created a searchable database of supportive services, check it out at https://massthrive.org/ .

Western MA RLC Peer Support Group List
Western MA RLC has compiled an extensive list of online and phone peer support groups. See the list here.

MBRLC Annual Party

It seems like simpler times now but we wanted to share some of our regularly programmed updates!

On January 15th, 2020, we held our annual holiday party.  Classical guitar provided by a member of Tunefoolery provided ambience as we celebrated our year and gave out awards!

NAMI Walk Update

NAMI Walk 
The NAMI Walk, one of our main fundraising events and an important event in our community, was originally to be held on May 16th. Due to the COVID-19 the walk will be a virtual walk meaning we will not walk together in person, but donations can still be made online. NAMI provides many tools to help us fund-raise if you are so inclined. Email MBRLC NAMI Walk Team Captain Michael Kanter at mkanter460@gmail.com for more details or if you have any questions. 

You can join Team MBRLC as a “walker” or donate by clicking here.  
Click on Join Our Team to raise funds (preferred) or you can donate by clicking on Support Us.

Donating online is the easiest way, but of you prefer to send by check or money order, please make check payable to NAMI Massachusetts, write NAMI PSAN on subject line and mail to:
Howard D. Trachtman
NAMI Greater Boston Peer Support and Advocacy Network
776 Main Street #541481
Waltham, MA 02454-5448

Funds raised will  benefit all MBRLC programs as well as the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Boston Peer Support and Advocacy Network of NAMI Greater Boston. 

You also will be supporting the Opening Doors to the Arts program www.OpeningDoorsToTheArts.org where we get complimentary tickets for concerts, theater and more.