Home Music therapy How hip-hop music can be a source of healing and resilience for black youth

How hip-hop music can be a source of healing and resilience for black youth

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Chuck D, an American hip-hop artist, performs in Malmö, Sweden in 1991. PHOTO PROVIDED BY: John LEFFMAN

On February 17, York University’s School of Social Work hosted an online event titled The Cypher: Hip Hop as a Method a Process of Critical Healing through Art, Politics and Culture, led by heARTbase.

heart base is a Toronto-based group of practitioners dedicated to promoting anti-colonial therapy methods for those experiencing personal and societal trauma.

The workshop focused on the historical context of black popular culture and how hip-hop music can be a source of critical healing and self-care for black youth.

Presenters, Precious Meyers, Ken Williams and Freda Bizimana shared some of the stories they have heard in their work with young people.

These stories come directly from young black people struggling to find a sense of belonging.

“I don’t think I’ll make it to 20,” said one youngster.

“I’m more afraid to live than to die,” said another.

Precious Meyers, social worker and practitioner at heARTbase, said such stories are alarmingly common.

“It shows what these young people are up against and their assaulted sense of identity that has been built up over the years,” she said.

Ken Williams, social worker and practitioner at heARTbase, finds that music and art can spark emotions, feelings and connections in young people that help them start conversations.

To better connect with these young people, he emphasizes the importance of culturally relevant therapy as a “means to learn, unlearn, and ultimately heal.”

Project Heartbeat, is an educational program run by heARTbase that provides a safe space for Black youth to discuss social issues that impact their mental health. Program participants share the music they listen to and dissect the lyrics to better articulate the sources of their stress.

Healing mental health through artistic expression. PHOTO PROVIDED BY: PXHERE

“What struck me was the way music allowed young people to express themselves. It allowed us to discuss politics and gave them a better understanding of what’s happening to them and what’s around them,” Meyers said of Project Heartbeat.

Meyers said many attendees didn’t realize their connection to music was a healing act until the end of the workshop.

Freda Bizimana, social work student and practitioner at heARTbase, said healing is political and an act of resistance to different forms of violence.

“Forms of violence such as (systemic) racism, discrimination, police brutality, racial profiling, educational trauma, poverty and environmental factors. Not to mention the psychological violence endured. Also, the unseen hope and unsaid evil of anti-Blackness,” Bizimana said.

A recent article in the journal Ethnicity and Health finds that barriers to mental health, as housing, employment, immigration, income and access to services are influenced by anti-black racism.

The article also indicates that mainstream medical approaches often fail to recognize that anti-black racism and racial trauma have a direct impact on mental health.

According to the article, addressing the criminalization of Black Canadians and introducing rehumanization measures at the institutional level are effective solutions to improving their access to culturally appropriate mental health services.

“It is very important that we do not allow indigenous African knowledge and spirituality to be defined by Eurocentric standards,” Meyers said. “We should be the ones who define who we are, because we are naturally spiritual beings.”

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How hip-hop music can be a source of healing and resilience for young black people

Chuck D, an American hip-hop artist, performs in Malmo, Sweden, 1991.PHOTO PROVIDED BY : John LEFFMAN

On February 17, York University’s School of Social Work hosted an online conference event titled The Cypher: Hip Hop as a Method a Process of Critical Healing through Art, Politics and Culture, led by heARTbase.

heARTbase is a Toronto-based group of practitioners dedicated to promoting anti-colonial therapy methods for people who experience personal and social trauma.

The workshop focused on the historical context of black popular culture and how hip-hop music can be a source of critical healing and self-care for black youth.

Presenters, Precious Meyers, Ken Williams and Freda Bizimana shared some of the stories they’ve heard in their work with young people.

These stories come directly from young black people struggling to find a sense of belonging. p>

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SELLOKPnYwk

“I don’t think I’ll be 20-years-old,” said one youngster.

“I’m more afraid to live than to die,” said another.

Precious Meyers, social worker and practitioner at heARTbase, said these stories are alarmingly common.

“It shows what these young people are up against and their assaulted sense of identity that has been built up over the years,” she said.

Ken Williams, social worker and practitioner at heARTbase, finds that music and art can spark emotions, feelings and connections in young people that help them engage in conversations.

To better communicate with these young people, he emphasizes the importance of culturally appropriate therapy as a “means of learning, unlearning and ultimately healing.”

Project Heartbeat, is an educational program led by heARTbase that provides a safe space for black youth to discuss social issues that impact their mental health. Program participants share the music they listen to and dissect the lyrics to better articulate the sources of their stress.

; Healing mental health through artistic expression. PHOTO PROVIDED BY: PXHERE

“What struck me was the way music allowed young people to express themselves. It allowed us to discuss politics and gave them a better understanding of what’s happening to them and what’s around them,” Meyers said of the Heartbeat Project.

Meyers said many attendees didn’t realize their connection. to the music was a healing act until the end of the workshop.

Freda Bizimana, social work student and practitioner at heARTbase, said healing is political and an act of resistance in the face of different forms of violence.

“Forms of violence such as (systemic) racism, discrimination, police brutality, racial profiling, educational trauma, poverty and environmental factors. Not to mention the psychological violence endured. Also, the unseen hope and unsaid evil of anti-Blackness,” Bizimana said.

A recent article in the journal Ethnicity and Health reveals that mental health, as housing, employment, immigration, income and access to services are influenced by anti-black racism.

The article also indicates that mainstream medical approaches often fail to recognize that anti-Black racism and racial trauma have a direct impact on mental health.

According to the article, addressing the criminalization of Black Canadians and introducing rehumanization measures at the institutional level are effective solutions to improving their access to culturally relevant mental health services.

“It is very important that we do not allow indigenous African knowledge and spirituality to be defined by Eurocentric standards,” Meyers said. “We should be the ones who define who we are, because we are naturally spiritual beings.”

That item was first published on Calgary Newspaper and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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