Saturday, August 19, 2017

Statement by Healing and Performing Arts of the Youth Resiliency Institute  to UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent ,  Baltimore,  January 21st, 2016

We cannot escape our origin,
However hard we try,
Those origins contain the key
Could we but find it?
To all that later come
~James Baldwin

YouthResiliencyGood morning, my name is Navasha Daya and I am co-founder and Director of the Healing and Performing arts of the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI), a cultural and arts community-based non-profit organization that provides services to children, youth and families in the City of Baltimore. I want to welcome the United Nation Delegation and thank you for traveling to Baltimore, Maryland to assess the state of hierarchy of race against Black people.

The 21st century represents the most dangerous time since our presence in the Americas as descendants of Africans. The urgency of these times necessitates a call to action to rescue our children, youth and families from a war being waged against them for their souls and minds. Too many of our children and youth from all life circumstances exist in socially toxic environments that have resulted in numbing detachment from others and a self-destructive disposition toward their self, family, community and world. Life without a sense of healthy identity, purpose, hope, belongings and love breeds a coldhearted, mean-spirited outlook on life that destroys both the individual and others.

Rites of Passage, a human development and community regeneration process, has been used by the Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI) and the National Rites of Passage Institute (NROPI) as a call to action. Specifically, rites of passage as used by YRI and NROPI is being used as a cultural antihistamine to prevent children and youth from experiencing allergic reactions to socially toxic environment.

The genius of our ancestors created powerful buffers that equipped us with cultural armor to beat back the demons of hopelessness, meaningless and lovelessness. These buffers consisted of cultural structures of meaning and feeling that created and sustained families and communities; this armor constituted ways of life and struggle that embodied values of service and sacrifice, trust and respect, love, care, discipline and excellence. Without cultural antihistamines and cultural armor, Black people are vulnerable to the social toxins and endure life with a minimal sense of self.

Rites of passage represents SANKOFA (it is never too late to return and fetch it), an opportunity for family and community to respond, intentionally and pragmatically, to the call for action during these dangerous times. It is an opportunity to provide a


UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent January 21st, 2016

child/youth development process that will enable youth and adolescents to see with new eyes and wake up, clothed in their right minds.

Suggested Questions

A. What are the numbers at the federal, state, county/regional and local levels of rites of passage and cultural art based specific development and prevention programs for people of color that focus on identity development and heritage? What is the annual amount of dollars spent and children and youth served?

B. Have the aforementioned programs been assessed utilizing cultural specific and sensitive assessment matrices?

C. What is the level of cultural competency training and understanding at the federal, state, county/regional and locals levels of the relationship between rites of passage and the cultural arts and self-esteem and achievement?

Suggested Recommendations

  1. Increasing the number of rites of passage and cultural arts specific development and prevention programs for people of color that focus on identity development and heritage.
  2. Identification, support and expansion of existing community-based model rites of passage and cultural arts specific development and prevention programs.

D. Conduct training and construct curriculum in the areas of rites of passage, the arts, cultural competence, cultural sensitivity, specificity and Africentricity to providers of care and designers of development, prevention and intervention programs.

G. Create and operate a grant award program to finance community based rites of passage, mentoring, cultural arts based programs for young men and women at the federal, state, county/regional and local levels. Offer tax incentives for businesses and corporations that sponsor such programs. Monitor and evaluate these programs with cultural specific and sensitive matrices. The focus of such assessment should not be driven by product and inclusive of process.

Healing and Performing arts of the Youth Resiliency Institute

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