(soft instrumental music) (laughs) - My name is Shawna Murray Browne.
I am a native Baltimorean.
I'm an Integrative Psychotherapist.
I'm a Liberation-Focused Community Healer.
My work is to help Black folk and those that care for them remember how to heal themselves.
I work from the premise that Black folks especially, and the Indigenous folks and other folks of color, come from a lineage history of having natural ways of caring for, of nurturing, and of healing.
Systems or -isms like racism and capitalism have made money off of our ongoing oppression and us not knowing that we have these innate powers.
I could say individually, our reaction to and the generational harms that have been passed on and has transformed into a culture, not even having the ability to ask the right questions to know how to gain access to this information.
The way that we've been trained is so Eurocentric and is grounded in Eurocentric values.
It makes sense that even the practitioners would feel like, "If I could fix the thing, then it would be better."
In the beginning, I was just using the usual evidence-based practice models, but I felt that it was consistently missing the mark based off of what I was hearing from folks within the community.
The turning point for me would be when my brother was murdered.
He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia while he was incarcerated.
(music intensifies) I had dreams about my brother being murdered before he actually was, and I thought that it was residue from seeing so many hashtags of Black men and women and children being killed.
And so the first part of that is that there is seldom space in mental healthcare and the way that we are addressing these traumatic experiences to contend with the multiplicity of experience.
After I returned to work after grieving my brother, and what I felt as a professional was that I had to make a decision of my profession or my personal life and family and lived experience, or how I was gonna advocate against the system on behalf of my brother.
I had this really challenging experience of feeling that the mental health system was not created for Black folks that were actually enduring systems of oppression, because it didn't allow me to show up as my full self and it required that I dehumanize myself, to treat myself as an object, in order to hold space for the folks that I was serving.
But I did decide that I would be out of alignment, out of right relationship, if I did not use my voice to talk about the harm and the system of harms done to my brother.
And so that early stage experience of having to make the decision and making it out of fear while being surrounded by professionals who did not know how to engage with me, their colleague, their therapist.
They are the instructors.
That's when I started to shift and decide that I was not going to be silent about how the culture of mental healthcare permeated and upheld systems of racism and white supremacy by virtue of the way that we're trained.
How do we ensure that what's happening in the therapy space is actually raising critical consciousness?
We can advocate.
We can be anti-racist in our individual practice, and we can do that in a way that will illicit a level of individual success or individual freedom for the folks that we're holding space for.
(soft instrumental music continues)