Students, teachers and professionals gathered on Friday at the Southside Arts Complex for the first event in the weekend-long initiative termed “Community Healing Days.” About 60 people comprised the audience, and they arrived at the store-front building with a common goal: to confront the cultural misinformation that they believed has affected black identity.
Mu-Tor Flood, the director of marketing at the Citizens for a Sustainable Future, helped coordinate the event.
“We needed to do something empowering for black people,” Flood said. “We wanted to explode the myths of black inferiority that are spread through news, movies, and music.”
Flood, along with Goliath Davis, IV, and Bruce Strouble, launched the Citizens for a Sustainable Future to strengthen the political, environmental, health, social and economic development in African-American communities. They teamed with the Community Healing Network, the Association of Black Psychologists, Project Food Now, the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency and Tallahassee Community Healing Days to sponsor a weekend of awareness and motivation.
“We want to be a catalyst for Blacks to make a difference in our communities,” Flood said.
During Friday’s event, attendees watched documentary clips, worked in groups and engaged in conversation about black stereotypes and the roots of racism. Several audience members admitted they found it difficult to recount positive beliefs about blacks. Others confessed that their personal experiences supported some of the negative black stereotypes. Like other races, these people had grown to believe blacks were only able to excel at sports, fashion and entertainment.
Goliath Davis, the executive director of Citizens for a Sustainable Future and a co-sponsor of the event, said this mentality has seeped into the black community with the help of media. He said that the media has often broadcasted statistics that are misleading, and because many blacks believe these statistics, they regard themselves as inferior. “This will end when we collectively stop believing and accepting that blacks are only good in certain areas,” he said. “Black people can be good at math… if you knew blacks were the first people on the planet, you would know we invented math,” he said.
Shanice Deterville, a fourth-year psychology student from Tampa, revealed that the key to improving the self-esteem of the black community is through knowledge.
“My purpose is to break the myths of black inferiority. We spoke about black stereotypes. We want to break those myths by doing our own research,” she said.
Deterville said that when blacks perform their own research, they will see that their future is brighter than the rest of the world would suggest.
“This will bring about the inner pride that we should have for ourselves,” she said.
While the event was an eye-opener for some people, it was a mere confirmation for others.
“Personally, I feel totally different about black people than what we learned about, but I do see how we can be influenced by what others think and feel about us,” Shirley Pittman said.
Pittman, an owner of a Childcare Center, said that she hoped above all that people would be motivated to act on what they learned.
“This is a call for us to wake up, come together, and reshape the misconceptions,” said Pittman.