Black dreams and Black joy: Embracing our sacred spaces

MHA Admin

Fri, 02/10/2023 – 13:15

by Niya McCray-Brown, Community Engagement Manager at Mental Health America

The words of Queen Ramonda in the award-winning film Wakanda Forever boomed through the theater walls as many of us in the audience imagined our own losses: “Have I not given everything?” she screams through tears and enraged depths of powerlessness.

White supremacy and all of its evil derivatives rooted in systemic racism consistently rob, abuse, and murder treasures of the Black community and always come knocking for more. Dangerous policing, unjust health care systems, and insidious political mechanisms of oppression are among the top of the list of culprits. As was beautifully depicted in the film – and as many of us have experienced in our own life journeys – despite braving a carousel of emotions and being pushed to the brink of our emotional capacity time and time again, our community is resilient. And joy prevails when we can hold space to honor our history, combat present injustices, and imagine a bright future.

Amplifying Black joy, Black dreams, and all of the shining lights of our resilience sends a clear message that the story will not end with our traumas, we won’t be silenced and siloed, and systemic racism will not have the final word.

Centering rest, dreams, and joy in the midst of glaring brutality and injustice for Black communities can feel like an impossible task. As a Black woman, advocate, and therapist, I am reminding each of us that embracing our sacred spaces of joy and dreams is not only important, but vital. Systemic racism tries to further us from protective factors like rest and joy, but today we put this tired vehicle of oppression to rest.

You may be asking, “What does it look like to prioritize my joy?” or “With what time can I rest?” These are deeply intimate questions, and to be clear, the most important person you can ask is yourself. However, here are some ideas to get you started:

Sing and dance whenever you feel like it, even if the stage is a steamed-up shower.
Spend time in nature and feel the breeze and sunshine on your skin.
Your joy space and dream space might look like spending more time with a community or support systems. Family (chosen or biological), friends, churches, social clubs, and other communal experiences can remind us how much we are loved and enrich our imaginations by increasing our sense of safety and belonging.
Learn more about Black joy in practice by watching our webinar, Black joy: Impacting the mental health of Black communities.
Check out our hub on Black mental health resources for Black History Month.

These self-care strategies have origins in ancestral practices, and when done with intention, can liberate our inner world even as we navigate the perils of the outer world.

Niya McCray-Brown is the community engagement manager at Mental Health America. She is also a licensed professional counselor and mental health advocate, particularly for people of the global majority.


The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will house a “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center, that will provide case management, mental health community advocacy, and oversight from the M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates. 
The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will offer patrons access to immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.
Our goal is to help people in the best way possible in an effort to preserve and to save more lives in the Nation’s Capital and beyond.

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Code Red
Gunshot Victim
Life Threatening Wounds
Physical Assault Victim
Severely Injured Auto Accident Victim
Burn Victim
Choking & Breathing Obstructions
and more…


Child Sex Assault Victim
Domestic Violence Victim
Drug Overdose
Rape/Sex Crime Victim
Suicide Watch
Trafficking Victim
Nervous Breakdown
and more…

Mental Health

At Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center patrons with mental health emergencies that include life threatening situations in which an individual is imminently threatening harm to self or others, severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, has a severe inability to function or is otherwise distraught and out of control, will have access to quality and psychiatric emergency services and referrals.

Physical Health

Whether your life threatening medical emergency involves excessive or uncontrollable bleeding, head injury. difficulty with breathing, severe pain, heart attack, vision impairments, stroke, physically collapsing, or seizure related, rest assured that our professionals will properly assess and evaluate the level of response that will be most needed to help provide stabilized care solutions and minimize complications as well as reduce early mortality.

Holistic Healthcare

We offer healthcare solutions that will support the whole person which includes their physical, psychological, emotional, social, & spiritual wellbeing. Research supports that because your mental state can affect your overall health we support and offer the inclusion of complimentary and alternative medicine(CAM) practitioners and naturopathic doctor recommendations and referrals as a part of our Outreach Community Resource Center’s care regimen and support.


Emergency care can typically result in traumatic injuries for which rehabilitation becomes an essential component of care in trying to achieve the best long-term outcomes for the patient. In addition to speeding up recovery times and helping to prevent further complications, rehabilitative care also helps to support a patient’s self-managed recovery once discharged from our facility. Our Outreach Community Resource Center works closely with our trauma center’s discharge department to assure that patrons requiring these services are linked with qualified professionals who will be accountable to the standard of care required to help the patron be successful in their recovery.

Social Services

Our “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center intends to promote “expansive” beneficial community enriching services, programs, case management, & linkage to “approved” partner resources and supports in all of the following intended areas and more:

Social Services

  • Clothing
  • Food Pantry
  • Housing/Shelter
  • I.D. Credentials
  • Senior Wellness Check
  • Toiletries
  • Transportation
  • Etc.

Extended Family Services

  • Child Care
  • Credit Counseling
  • Family Court Services
  • Legal Aide

Career Training

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Computer/Graphics Training
  • Culinary Program  
  • GED Courses
  • Hospitality Training
  • Job Etiquette & Grooming
  • Resume’ Prep
  • Sales Training
  • Software/Technology workshops
  • Small Business Training

Return Citizen
Program Partner
(Bridging the Gap)

  • Case Management
  • Temporary Boarding/Housing
  • Transitional Program Registration

Prevention/Intervention Outreach,
Workshops, & Programs

  • After-school Behavioral Health Program
  • Civic Engagement / Volunteer Sign-up
  • Fatherhood Rites of Passage
  • Gun Violence Town Hall Forum
  • Life Coaching & Coping Strategies
  • Marriage Counseling Workshops
  • Medicare Informational Workshops
  • Mentorship Training
  • Parental Classes
  • Support Groups
  • Town Hall Discussions
  • Violence De-Escalation Training
  • Voter Registration

Nutritional Outreach

  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Classes
  • Recipe Sharing Workshops
  • Meal Prep

Community Outreach

The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is partnering with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health advocacy organization to provide outreach services on the community level as an aid in reducing the existent health inequities that many District citizens are facing as a direct result of the presence of debilitating social determinants and the lack of culturally appropriate care choices and realities for community members residing in marginalized and lower-income communities.

It is the vision and intentions of the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health Advocates organization to help improve the quality of living for citizens living in our Nation’s Capital and beyond by overseeing the delicate linkage to services and by maintaining higher standards of care accountability for deserving citizens of the Nation’s Capital.

For more information or to enroll as one of our service providers, please email us at: