Exclusive | Entertainment News | Health
What does it mean to stand within the dichotomy of being black and queer? How does this intersectionality affect our mental health, and our ability to navigate it in comparison to other demographics in the United States of America? “Only one in three Black adults who need mental health care, receive it," according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is due partly to systemic hurdles including “socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources.”
In addition to this, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health states that although black adults in the U.S. are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress than our white counterparts, the black community is more likely to face structural challenges to access the care and treatment needed for these symptoms. With an established home in Los Angeles, the Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective (BEAM) is a national organization dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.
Watch the First Episode of BEAM's Black Healing Remixed Podcast:
As a grant-making, movement-building, and training institution, BEAM prioritizes holistic approaches to healing and is on a mission to incite effective change in the mental healthcare systems meant to cater to the black community.
BEAM provides a wealth of resources to help black and brown bodies find a path that is most conducive to their healing. In today’s society, the work of psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists is heavily emphasized, whilst the recognition of other forms of healing are slim.
BEAM serves as a reminder that there is a myriad of healing modalities available to us. A large part of the healing process is also the awareness that healing is not linear and that it takes on different forms depending upon where one might be in their journey.
BEAM's Wellness Directory has resources for wherever you may be on that journey and offers support as you navigate it. It allows you to enter your state, and provide you a listing of “culturally competent” therapists as well as other healing modalities such as Reiki practitioners or massage therapists.
“Number one is there's nothing wrong with you. Right? As an individual, there's nothing wrong with you. There are a lot of things in our society that are creating conditions that do not help you thrive. And so it's really our job as the healers, it's our job as community members, as peer support folks, to be helping and encouraging each other. And I think that's the biggest thing. And to know that there is no one strategy to healing.”
Natalie Patterson and Yolo Akili Robinson aim to use the knowledge obtained from their work within the community coupled with their journeys in navigating their own emotional and mental well-being to bring awareness to different modalities of healing that can be unique to Black culture.
Natalie Patterson who serves as the Director of Training and Programs at BEAM tells Gaye Magazine that one of the ways that the team hopes to be impactful outside of their work within communities is to initiate intimate conversations surrounding Black mental and emotional health.
They hope to “bring these intimate conversations into people’s homes, into their real lives, into their cars,” and with that, the team at BEAM created the ‘Black Healing Remixed’ podcast.
The podcast is meant to be “where ancestral wisdom meets today’s modern complexities. It is the front porch, the kitchen island, and the perfect seat on the couch – A place where we can come together and connect with honest talks.”
"Our podcast seeks to give people opportunities to reflect, to see themselves in us, and also to know that there's a community of people working on their behalf for their wellness,” said Patterson.
‘Black Healing Remixed’ not only explores the relationship between mental and emotional health and healing but also explores other topics such as relationships.
In Episode 2: “Remixing Relationships, Sex and Intimacy”, Patterson and Robinson explore the connection between our culture, our mental health, and dating and relationships.
One of the themes that came up within our conversation is the link between the queer community and some of the harmful ideologies that have come about culturally. One of them being that intimacy in the queer community is intrinsically tied to how we present.
“…If you have a body composition that is a certain way, in our community that means you have to align with this thing. And I think when you get in relationships, you realize that that's not true," began Patterson.
"...It actually requires a lot of conversation, but we also know that we don't have good models always for that. We have a lot of heteronormative models for like how you do relationships and how you do sex, which those are whack too, just FYI. And unhelpful, right? And so like we are creating the history that we will pass on one day. And so it's really, for me, it's about unwinding those things and going, 'where did I get that idea from? Why is that the idea that it got to be this way?' And am I willing to have the vulnerable, brave conversation to say, what is pleasure to you? When you say sex, what do you actually mean?”
Patterson promises that season two of Black Healing Remixed will be “dynamic” and will include a lot of round table conversations.
When asked to share advice for the black queer community, Natalie left us with this:
“I have no advice, but I do have love I want to pour into them. You are worthy. You are here on purpose, with purpose. There is divine intention over your life. And if you have not found the moment where you're like, "yes!", then that means you are still on the quest. And every day that you wake up is another day that you are closer to what you are here for. And I want to encourage you to fill your life up with things that remind you that you are loved. If the world around you does not feel loving, baby, we need new friends. We need new things. Like we got to get where the love is. Because you are worthy. You are worthy.”
As a community, black and queer individuals lead a multi-layered and nuanced life. Oftentimes, our realities have difficulties that we have to navigate without adequate support or access to valuable resources.
The Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective is a light that hopes to illuminate the multitude of paths toward healing for us as a collective. Through their work within our communities and their podcast, they intend to push towards holistic healing and transparent and candid conversations surrounding black culture.
Check Out Our Full Interview with Natalie Patterson of BEAM Below: