Let’s get together

In January, I shared some of my challenges with mental and emotional health and the steps I took to regain my footing. Discussing this publicly was a turning point, as bringing challenges to the light removes the sinister foothold that shame and negative self-talk can have on us.

In addition to the outpouring of support, what has become clear is that this isn’t simply a story to be shared—it’s an integral part of why Abernathy exists. Indeed, over the past year the mission of the magazine has been embodied and integrated into keynotes, events, and workshops.

The framework I used to achieve wellness and stability in my life include practices widely known to improve subjective feelings of wellbeing, yet not enough of us practice them. My original vision was to outline them in writing, but the importance of creating and holding a literal space for wellness and healing is paramount.

On May 13th (next Saturday), I’m co-facilitating a workshop dedicated to holistic black male wellness. It’s a full-day experience designed to help black men show up in the world in a more grounded way. Many are the challenges presented by life (at work and at home and everywhere in between), and few are the spaces dedicated to the specific emotional, mental, and practical needs of professional black men. The one size fits all approach to wellness simply won’t do.

We’ll convene at a gorgeous space in SoHo, graciously provided by Breather, and limit registration to about 25 attendees in order to maintain an intimate experience. If this sounds like your kind of party, please apply here.

Support has been graciously provided by the Campaign for Black Male achievement, and I’m deeply grateful to Shawn Dove, Dr. Phyllis Hubbard, and the other members of the CBMA team which helped make this possible.

That’s thing one (for New York).

Thing two is for the Bay Area. On May 17th, I’m co-hosting a rooftop networking mixer with Jopwell. We’re inviting black and brown folks working in tech to join us for an evening of networking and libations at The Kapor Center for Social Impact, a gorgeous and thoughtfully renovated LEED certified building in downtown Oakland.

I’ve been spending more time in the Bay Area lately—last month, I co-hosted a dinner in Oakland for a handful of new and used friends—and I’m learning about how disconnected a lot of black professionals feel. Many of us live in the nation’s most populous cities with soaring costs of living that keep us firmly entrenched in the rat race, utterly disconnected from each other. Indeed, loneliness and the desire for connection partially explains the ubiquity of social media addiction among millennials.

Many historically marginalized folks leave behind familiar settings, family, and social support systems to work for tech companies with offices in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and other major cities. Employee engagement data is often aggregated, but interesting insights emerge when you control for gender and ethnicity.

Most black and brown folks living in the United States are deeply familiar with the experience of being a numerical minority and adjusting accordingly. Code-switching, covering, and other coping mechanisms are employed to assimilate, reduce judgment, and blend in with the dominant culture.

One of the challenges with this unspoken agreement is the emotional and psychological toll it takes on the those who attempt this assimilation. The dearth of fellow travelers results in a cultural alienation that accumulates over time.

I don’t have a solution for any of that, but I know how it feels to connect with likeminded folks who know what it’s like. Let’s start there. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn about new products, offerings, and other fun surprises from our sponsors.

Space is limited and registration will close once venue capacity is reached (the rooftop can only accommodate 100 humans) so be sure to RSVP if you plan on joining us.

And in the meantime, please enjoy the latest on Abernathy.

By willie jackson

willie jackson is an inclusion strategist who empowers thoughtful organizations and the leaders who run them.