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Mindful : August 2019
For Angela Rose Black, PhD, founder, and CEO of Mindfulness for the People, her ear- liest memories of bringing mindful attention to her life happened in childhood in Indi- anapolis. She spent time at Flanner House, a community multipurpose center that supports, advocates for, and empowers Black families in Indianapolis, where she met Frances Malone, the director of the center’s child development center. “Among many things, she prioritized reminding us to pay attention to our sur- roundings; to walk and sit with dignity; to savor our food as we nourished our bodies. I don’t think she called it ‘mindfulness’ but rather emphasized ‘awareness’ as critical to our survival as Black children in a racist society,” Black says. As Black moved through an academic career in which she studied health dispari- ties, with research focused on Black wom- en’s health and stress, she herself suffered from stress and sought relief in meditation and mindfulness. There too, however, she found stressors. “My very existence in a given mindfulness space is oftentimes disruptive. Opening my mouth to ask ‘who gets to be well’ is resonant for some and triggering for others. The very breath we are invited to focus on is valued in some bodies while not in others.” Black was compelled to work for change. “My fatigue with people of color being underconsidered and undervalued in all things mindfulness—research, teaching, and practice—despite our deep historical roots of engaging in mindful practices—propelled me to unapologetically create Mindfulness for the People.” Mindfulness for the People offers a variety of courses, including mind–body training for people of color in search of compassionate ways to address racial battle fatigue, and for white people to recognize and respond to white fragility with compassion. While the material Mindfulness for the People teaches may be challenging to some, Black’s parting words are simple. “To women of color reading this: I see you. To white women reading this: Do you see us?” #whogets2bewell ANGELA ROSE BLACK “The very breath we are invited to focus on is valued in some bodies while not in others.” ANGELA ROSE BLACK 42 mindful August 2019