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By David Nelson, Jr.
National Black Justice Coalition
I had another awesome experience this year at National Black Justice Coalition’s “Out On The Hill” 2015 conference. Out On The Hill is a national, black, LGBT social justice and leadership summit.
This year was very different! We usually are focused on community, policy, social illnesses and what we can do to eradicate or shift these issues. However, the conference took a turn from social justice lenses to more of an authentic and holistic lens that focused on health and wellness and what that looks like for us. Health and wellness means the ability to live life fully with vitality and meaning. Wellness is optimal health and vitality, encompassing physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, interpersonal and social, and environmental well-being. I feel that this was a very well needed discussion.
Being motivated to break this definition down and measure your own health and wellness to see where you are as a whole person and if you are in balance. So many times in advocacy and activism work we stay focused on causes, issues and communities and forget that we can’t continue this work if we’re not whole and if we’re not together. Building communities starts with yourself.
When you are building anything, you need to bring your “A” game. I attended a workshop called “Same Sex, Different Everything Else: Improving our relationships through greater understanding” facilitated by Angie Harvey. The workshop talked about how we navigate relationships in dating life. Within any relationship you build, you need understanding.
Ms. Harvey talked about the 5 “As”: Aware, Acknowledge, Accepting, Action and Aftercare.
This struck me, because in community building understanding your people is key to effectively helping them progress. “Being Aware” is to be concerned and well-informed about situations. Once you are aware of the needs and the wants, then you can “Acknowledge.” In this stage, you are recognizing the fact and importance of a situation.
After acknowledging, you can “Accept” and come to recognize the opinions of the community you are working to build on. Putting a plan into “Action” is the next phase. Your action addresses the social illness with the hopes and efforts of eradicating or shifting the situation. Last step is “Aftercare”: in this stage, you are empowering your action. The aftercare is making sure that your action plan is effective and what needs to be done to keep this action going. I know after this year’s Out On The Hill conference, I am more conscious and aware of myself and what I need to do to make sure I bring my “A” game.