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In this episode of the Be the Bridge Podcast, host Latasha Morrison engages in a powerful discussion with Licensed Professional Counselor Dr. Chinwé Williams surrounding mental health. They talk through the collective trauma the world has endured and the racial trauma the BIPOC community endures. Dr. Chinwé shares about the benefits of somatic therapy, the need to foster emotional resilience in kids, and helpful tips for talkings with kids and teens about racism. Dr. Chinwé concludes the conversation with a word for the BIPOC community.

You will be empowered to be a mindful listener and to remain steadfast in the midst of struggles. You will feel validated and encouraged. And you will be reminded that there is always help and hope.

Join in the conversation on our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn to let us know your thoughts on this episode!

Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor, & Music – Travon Potts with Integrated Entertainment Studios
Assistant Producer & Transcriber – Sarah Connatser

Quotes:
“Racial trauma is real. Racial trauma is any sort of race based stress, any sort of mental or emotional injury that’s caused by racial bias.” -Dr. Chinwe Williams“

We have to pay attention to what’s happening. And we do have to start talking to one another. We have to talk to our children.” -Latasha Morrison

“Being seen and heard is actually essential to healing.” -Dr. Chinwé Williams

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Resources Mentioned:
Seen book by Dr. Chinwé Williams and Will Hutcherson
Beyond the Spiral book by Dr. Chinwé Williams and Will Hutcherson
Five Ways to Help Children Build Emotional Resilience Instagram Post by Dr. Chinwé Williams
Four Tips for Talking to Kids and Teens about Racism and Social Unrest article by Dr. Chinwé Williams

Connect with Dr. Chinwé Williams:
Her Website
Facebook
Instagram

Connect with Be the Bridge:
Our Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Connect with Latasha Morrison:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.

Latasha Morrison  

You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison  

[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!

Narrator  

Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison  

[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator  

We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison  

Be the Bridge community, I am so excited, like I always say. I just love bringing people that I think will be helpful as you are navigating conversations around racial literacy. I just love bringing people that’s going to help enhance that conversation. And so today, I have someone that’s really going to help enhance the conversations that we’re already having in our group. So if you’re listening, I want you to listen closely. Because you’re gonna want to make sure that you follow her on all the socials, purchase all her books. She is someone that I listen to and someone that really inspires me. And today I have Dr. Chinwé Williams, who is a PhD. She is a licensed and EMDR certified therapist. She is a former graduate counseling professor and college high school counselor. And so all of you who have children, teens, you want to pay close attention, because that is her sweet spot. She is a consultant for K through 12 schools, faith based and corporate organizations. Her expertise lies in the areas of stress, anxiety management (do I have your attention now?) trauma recovery, and race related stress and trauma informed education. Dr. Williams has previously taught graduate counseling courses at Georgia State, Argosy University, University of Central Florida, and Rollins College, and as a speaker at local and national and international conferences. She is the owner of Meaningful Solutions Counseling and Consulting, a private practice in Roswell, Georgia. Another Georgia peach here. Dr. Williams is the co-author of the best selling books Seen: Healing Despair and Anxiety in Kids and Teens Through the Power of Connection. And her newly released book, which we’re going to talk about, is Beyond the Spiral: Why We Shouldn’t Believe Everything Anxiety Tells You. She is also the co-creator of the online course “Healing Racial Trauma with Somatic Therapy.” I mean, so I know I have your attention now. So, welcome! I know that was a mouthful, Dr. Chinwe. And I know you are here not too far from me. And I just want to say welcome. Thank you for your work that you’re doing. And I am so excited to have this conversation. And I know it’s not going to be the first conversation that we have. And I just want to tell them a little bit. Your name kept coming up in all the circles that I was in. Everyone was like, “Have you talked to Dr. Chinwe? “Have you met Dr. Chinwe?” And so when I was going through some things like just a couple years ago with the death of my dad, like grief, and just all the things I was trying to find another counselor to talk to. And I had a conversation with you. Yeah, I put my business out there. So I had a conversation with you. And you were like, and what I appreciated and admired so much about our conversation, you were like, “I know so much about you. I know so much about the organization. I don’t think I’m a good fit for this.” I loved it. You know, I loved it. I loved your honesty. And then you pointed me to someone that is still such a mentor to me. You know, that prays for our organization. She’s done things with our organization, and Miss Tanya, and then also helped me find another therapist. So yes. (laughter) So I love it. And I’m so grateful for you and your work. You are so needed. So I want to welcome you to the Be the Bridge Podcast. This is a community of bridge builders, people who are sitting with the discomfort. They see the brokenness in the world and they want to be a part of the solution. So we are all about healing, we are all about restoration, we are all about reconciliation, and we are all about Jesus.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yes.

Latasha Morrison  

And so that is at the core of why we do this. I can’t do it apart from Jesus. You know? And I do know we have people who are not a part of the faith that are part of this community. You are always welcome here too. We love you. And I hope you can find things that can help inspire you in these conversations. You know, unfortunately, there is a stigma around mental health and therapy. And we hear it coming up so much like in everything, all the chaos we see in the world is happening around us, you are seeing it, you are feeling it. What would you say to someone who was wondering how therapy can actually help them? How it differs from just talking to a friend or family member? And who therapy is for? There was one thing, I was just talking to a friend and their son, and you know, because I think this is just healthy checkpoints that we all need. And I see it because the world is so harsh, there are so many difficult things that I know I can’t carry it on my own shoulders. So if you’re trying, you know, to do that with a friend, I know that can be taxing. And then I also know that everybody can’t afford therapy. And just talking with my friend’s sons, he was like, “I don’t want no one in my head.” (laughter) You know, or either, you know, one of my goddaughters, she had someone to commit suicide that was in her dorm. And she just felt like the school was missing, that they don’t have good counselors there. And so I know that there’s a lot of happening. But people who are wondering why we need this, why do you feel like we need this? What why do you feel like we need this, as a therapist?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

And thank you, first of all, Latasha for just being who you are. Because what you may not have realized in what you did as part of the intro was you began the process of destigmatizing therapy just by sharing our connection. Because not many years ago, and even to this day, there are a lot of podcast hosts and people that are in similar positions as you that just would not mention it because of the stigma that you brought up. And by the way, we had a conversation, as you mentioned, and I said that you remind me of my cousin or a friend, “So therefore I cannot counsel you. But can we get margaritas?” (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  

Yes! And we still got to get those.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

And we haven’t done that yet. But I did see you at the sneaker ball, at the gala, or gala. It was tremendously inspiring. Amazing. And you looked amazing. So let me just say that.

Latasha Morrison  

Thank you. Thank you for your support.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

But that’s what you did. You reduced the stigma just by sharing that in the intro. And if if I may, I’d like to address stigma for just a moment as I start to respond to that very good question. So what I want to share with you is that, and for everyone who’s listening, mental health, emotional health and behavioral health struggles are very common. In fact, the World Health Organization put out a stat not too long ago that says one in five people in the world (and by the way that sits for us in the US, if you’re listening in the US) one in five of us each year will have some sort of mental or emotional struggle that will lead to a diagnosis – a diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse, people don’t often think about insomnia also being a diagnosis. So if you think about that number one in five, that’s plenty common enough. But then I want everyone listening to also consider everything that we have been through just in the past three years. All of the different life stressors that we’re still, many of us are still experiencing, that leads to an emotional struggle but doesn’t necessarily lead to a clinical mental health diagnosis. For example, if you are caring for, those of you who are listening right now, caring for a sick child, caring for an aging parent having a loss, which Latasha just mentioned of a parent, a parent that you have a beautiful relationship with. My mother-in-law passed in 2020. So the loss of a loved one, the breakup of a romantic relationship. How many of us listening right now have ever been through a period where you’ve had so much work on your plate that you could barely keep your eyes open, right, to write the next email because you’re feeling completely burnt out? So those are common life situations that leads to some form of emotional stress, but doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of a mental health diagnosis. So the takeaway here is that we all struggle. Right? And the Word of God tells us that in this life, we will have trouble. And so that stigma while I understand it, especially in certain communities, immigrant communities, communities of color, I completely understand where the stigma is coming from. However, let’s point to the Word of God. Do we realize that the word fear and or anxiety is mentioned 365 times? So the Word of God doesn’t say, if you’re fearful. I believe actually the word in Psalm 56:3 says, “When you are afraid.” Right? So my hope in just sharing that is that especially in the faith community, and even if you’re not part of the faith community, because that stigma really does extend to most communities, that you know that we are going to struggle at some point and help is available. So therapy is helpful, talking to our friends and our family members is very helpful. But I do want to just share this, the difference between talking to your friend or your auntie or your cousin about your struggles, very helpful potentially, but here’s the difference. The conversations that you have with a professionally trained therapist will be objective. Right? Because the friends and the family members that you have in your life know you and see you oftentimes through very specific lenses that they may not be as as objective. So you have someone who’s objective, you have someone who’s trained in psychological change strategies, and you also are able to have conversations that will normalize what you’re going through. Your friend may not know all the stats about depression and anxiety and trauma, but your therapist will. And your therapist will say, “What you’re going through right now is normal. The fact that you aren’t sleeping, because you’re worried about a family member, you’re worried about the economy, you’re worried about, you know, keeping your job is normal. Now here’s what we’re going to do about it.”

Latasha Morrison  

The tools and the resources that are really important. And I think the more we have this conversation and a honest conversation around it, it can help with it. So like sharing your stories. It’s nothing to be embarrassed. Like, for me, I feel like, you know, I feel like God has given people wisdom. You know, that, it’s like, we have access. We can pray. But then also realizing, you know, I think it’s sometimes pride where we feel like we can take all of it on and we can handle all.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yes.

Latasha Morrison  

And like, why would you think you can? You know?

Latasha Morrison  

The word of God talks about leaning on our own understanding. Right?

Latasha Morrison  

Yes. Yes. And understanding that his yoke is easy. You know what I’m saying? And so I think those are the things that we have to remember. But I do, like, it’s important for us. There are skill sets that you have as a therapist that we don’t have. That even reading books, you know, like, you know, I’m really interested in like the somatic therapy. Like all these things that we don’t have the tools for that can really help us be better humans. And so I want to say congratulations on your book release. Beyond the Spiral: Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything Anxiety Tells You. This came out in May.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Just came out. Yeah.

Latasha Morrison  

And could you share a little bit about what that is about, the book it about?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yes. 100%. So, Latasha, you shared this already. And you know so well and many of your listeners understand this as well. People are struggling. People are struggling. 28% of individuals, adults in our country have an anxiety disorder. So not what I was talking about in terms of everyday struggles. This is clinical diagnosis. So that’s a significant number of adults. But what we have been noticing trending for a while now, the pandemic did not help this. The pandemic only exacerbated, elevated rates of anxiety, depression, self harm among young people. So our youth are experiencing these things to a high degree and the consequences are heartbreaking. You mentioned the suicide. We’re hearing, I get so many phone calls Latasha, and I don’t work with little kids anymore, I just don’t have the time available. Because when you’re working with the child, you’re working with the school, you’re working with Grandma, you’re working with the parents. And I put my all into it. So I’m not working with kids anymore. But I do field these phone calls. And I’ll sit on the phone with parents and grandparents. And I’m hearing so many struggles that parents of six and seven and eight year olds are having. But the research is very specific that the two groups that are struggling the most with anxiety, in particular, right now are adolescents and young adults. So we got this. We wrote a book for parents and caregivers and leaders. So my co co author and I – shout out to Will Hutcherson who’s a youth and next gen pastor – we’ve been traveling across the country. And when we share this information, parents were so receptive. But then we’d be in the line signing the books, they’d be like, “Can I give this to my child?” (laughter) And we’d be like, “No, this is actually for you.” But we got that every single time, every single city. So we prayed about it. And the Lord really put it on both of our hearts to provide a resource for teenagers. So very quickly this book, I consider it a whole, God created us, mind, body, and soul. Everything is interconnected in very beautiful ways by design, because our Heavenly Father want us to be whole. Not just spiritually, is what I say, but physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally. So this book really talks about the dynamics of anxiety in teens and young adults. So we hit on the problem, but not for very long. The rest of the book is about solutions and strategies and coping tools and how to invite God in. So that’s what we’re really proud of is that we talk about psychological change strategies that I’ve learned in my training, and the things that I do with my clients today, you know, every single day. But then we also bring in the spiritual piece. Because, you know, Jesus is the ultimate healer.

Latasha Morrison  

Right, right. And I love that. I was, you know, and I know, most of you, unless you’re like living under a rock at this moment, you notice that we came out of this pandemic and it’s heightened. Like, just emotions. Like you’re seeing fights at school, the gun violence that we’re seeing, you know, the abuse. I can imagine that domestic violence, like all of those things probably are really high and stuff that we don’t even hear about as much. Drug use, you know, you know, addictions, like all of those things. Because we went through a trauma. Not just as a country, but the world went through a collective trauma with death, millions of deaths that we were experiencing daily. Fears that we were experiencing daily. People had to stay home, and many homes are not safe for everyone. Everybody’s home is not a safe place. And so you could just, all that heightened, you’re like, “Okay, what is going on? Something’s in the air. What is this? What is the answer for this?” And so I’m grateful that this book is written. So this is a book that people can pass on to other people. This is a podcast that we can share. So maybe it may spark someone to reach out for help. Maybe there are group sessions that people can have. Maybe schools may invest a little bit more into counseling and to group talk. Maybe there’s things, you know, we do these things Discussions and Desserts. Like, maybe some of those things can be outlets, you know, for people to really, to help. There’s a, you know, when you talk about teens, you know, why is the mental health and wellness of this demographic so important for you?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yeah, so Latasha, I started, and a lot of people don’t realize this, but I started as a high school counselor. That was my very first job out of the University of Georgia. Go Dawgs. I gotta add that in there. (laughter) My husband’s somewhere smiling. He’s like the biggest dawg fan. He’s like, “Don’t forget that.” I served as a high school counselor. But before that in my master’s program, I worked in the college counseling clinics. So I ran groups, I facilitated large groups for people around mental health issues, around stress management, around diversity. Roommates, like my roommate, it was so interesting. Something’s coming up right now, we had a lot of talks with a group of roommates who lived together, but did not share the same culture, the same ethnicity. And one of the things that came up. This is so interesting, somebody wrote into the room, wrote to the room director, a white student saying, “I’m really concerned that my Black roommate who I really care about isn’t washing her hair every day.” So you can imagine the discussions that came around that because if you have ethnic hair, and not everyone, not across the board, but it actually isn’t helpful to wash your hair every day. You lose a lot of oils. But there were these misunderstandings and misperceptions not coming from a place of hate, at all, but a place of misunderstanding that started to have some interesting conflicts. And so having those real discussions, so that was like in my early 20s at the University of Georgia. I did personality tests. But I really got a chance to really learn about students, especially as a high school counselor. And what young people taught me and they’re still teaching me is just the power of vulnerability, the power of authenticity, especially as a relates to connection. So it saddens me and I’m actually very grieved about the fact that young people are struggling so much right now. And people ask why Latasha. So, I know, this is not the time to go into every single aspect of it. But two things that are really important that I do want your listeners to know is that in addition to academic stress, which has been around forever, in addition to, you know, relational stress, in addition to economic stress, which is a big one for college students, they’re also feeling lonely. Loneliness was an epidemic before the pandemic, and it’s statistically linked to increasing levels. Loneliness is linked to increasing levels of anxiety and depression among young people. So that’s like a whole, that might be a whole nother podcast. Right?

Latasha Morrison  

Wow. That’s like, I mean, there’s so much, because I’m thinking about that. I’m thinking about the, even the racial trauma part. Like the part of someone saying that they’re concerned, but then also on the receiving end of that, the trauma that causes in relationships. And you know, we’ve had to deal with that. I have a dog, everybody knows my dog is T’Challa. If you don’t know, he’s T’Challa. And he lives into that name from the Black Panther. He’s a Maltipoo. And, you know, he’s been kind of like an emotional support animal. And I was joking right, and someone said, “Well, like what emotional support do you feel with T’Challa?” And I said, “Grief and racial trauma.” And it’s like, it is a real thing. It’s a real thing. And so I can imagine, you know, with everything that’s happening. I think about even after Charleston, Charlottesville, like, I’m seeing on the other end, people in my community, in the BIPOC community that are not well. We’re dealing with secondary trauma. There’s a fear. I hear it in my mom who is seventy years old. There’s a fear that she’s living with because of the things that’s happening, because of the temperature of this country, because of the reminders and the triggers of the world that she grew up in. There’s this fear. And everybody processes fear and all of this anxiety all differently. And we all cope differently. And she’s someone that won’t talk to anyone. But, she’s gonna get me; I’m just saying all this stuff. (laughter) She don’t listen. Nobody better not send it to her. But needs to talk to somebody. Somebody in my family gonna send it to her. (laughter) And hopefully it’ll open up a conversation, Mom. But I know that other people, and maybe I’m saying this so because other people may be experiencing this with their own parents.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yes.

Latasha Morrison  

So we’re always with Be the Bridge trying to look for ways that we can intersect, things that can help our community help others within that. And so I want, tell me a little bit about, just as we’re talking about this book, but I want to talk about just the trauma healing that you do through somatic therapy. Because I know there’s some people that heard that and they’re like, “Somatic what?”

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

“What is that?” (Laughter)

Latasha Morrison  

There’s other people that know exactly what I’m talking about. But I’m not gonna lie, like, this is something that’s new that I just learned about within the last few years. And I know there are other people out there that say, “What did she just say?”

Latasha Morrison  

“What is that?”

Latasha Morrison  

“Is Jesus in that?” “Does it hurt? Is it painful?” But could you tell us a little bit about what it is and how it helps.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

100% I love talking about this stuff. So I wrote a course, I co wrote a course during the 2020 uprising and political and racial distress and conflict, to help therapists help BIPOC clients, but also white therapists understand racial trauma. So to talk about somatic therapy, I think I, it might be helpful for your audience to know that racial trauma is real. Racial trauma, basically, a quick definition is any sort of race based stress, any sort of mental or emotional injury that’s caused by racial bias. So think about our kids. You know? If anybody has a, there’s so many stories about this. But think about if you have a child, a cousin, a niece, a nephew that said, “I don’t like the skin that I’m in.” Why are they saying that? What do they see? No one has said, no one has probably called them, you know, a horrible word or slur. But they’re paying attention and they’re making observations. So racial trauma can actually be caused by these observations that make you feel like you’re not okay. So discrimination, racism, and of course, hate crimes. And it’s a real thing. And in the US, microaggressions in the workplace, at school, outside, you know, in ministry. Okay?

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

So in the US, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, so we’re talking about our Asian brothers and sisters, our Latina brothers and sisters, and Jewish brothers and sisters are also very vulnerable to this. Those numbers are going up, especially for students. And so that plays a significant role in their well being. And so it leads to poor mental health outcomes. So somatic therapy, what is that? Well, somatic therapy is what we have found to be helpful in helping to promote the healing of racial trauma. So that’s what I’ve been talking a lot about, probably for three years now, all over the place. And it’s interesting that people do want to hear about it, because I talk about it in corporate settings and ministry settings. But it’s basically a body centric way, again, God created us to be thinking, feeling physical, interacting beings, my friends. So it’s not counter to anything that we believe in terms of our faith. But this body centric approach helps to release the stress that’s in the body, toxic stress accumulates as a result of trauma. And it impacts our posture, I can go on and on about this, Latasha. It impacts our posture, it impacts our breathing, it impacts our vagus nerve, which helps us to, it’s a part of our central nervous system that helps us feel a sense of well being. And so it helps to release this tension from the body. And it’s different from the traditional way of doing therapy. But it can go hand in hand. So if you’re in therapy with me, we’re talking about the events of your life. We’re talking about how those events are impacting you emotionally. We’re talking about how it’s impacting you relationally. And I’m teaching you how to breathe. I’m asking you if you’ve moved your body. Sometimes we dance. Sometimes we met, ask Reggie Joiner, ask Reggie Joiner sometimes we shake.  (laughter) He knows, I did something for his staff, I don’t know if I’ll get invited back. (laughter) We were shaking.

Latasha Morrison  

I’m sitting up here like, oh, yeah, I was sitting up here while you were saying that I’m like, “Okay, I’m gonna invite her. We got to get something for the Be the Bridge staff.” So right here.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

So I’m that moving girl. And I don’t have a dance background. I don’t have a yoga background. I don’t have a kinesthetic background. I just have done this research. Know what it does for me; know what it does for my Brown boys, my little Brown boys at home. And massaging is part of it. Breathing deeply is part of it. Recognizing your posture, because sometimes we tighten and restrict, and that impacts our breathing, which then impacts the way that we even connect with other people. So you can probably hear the passion. It might be annoying at this point. But yeah, we could talk more about it at anytime.

AD BREAK

Latasha Morrison  

It’s so funny I was, I had a mentor and a coach that she would do those breathing exercises with me at the end of every conversation. And I’m sitting there, I’m like a person that like I laugh. And so I was like, “What?” Okay, and she said, “Now push your stomach all the way back, and sit up,” and it was like the posture. And you I felt so goofy. But then afterwards, you’re like, “Oh, wait a minute that worked.” And so now I find myself doing that, and seeing the release. And, you know, so even, she was telling me to carry like a mat, like, she carries a mat when she travels, just to stretch, just to kind of center herself. And you know, and just little things like that, where I would think in my Latasha brain like, “Oh you don’t need this.” But now it’s like things that I’m like, “Okay, I need all the things. I need the contemplative. I need all the things.” Like anything that’s gonna help me be a better me and a more thriving me mentally, physically, spiritually. Those are the things that we need to do. And you mentioned your kids, I want people to know you have two sons, right?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

I have two sons that live in the home with me and a daughter, my bonus daughter who she is precious to me, I want to acknowledge her as well. She’s a sophomore in college.

Latasha Morrison  

Okay, so yes, I just wanted you guys to know that she’s also speaking out of experience because she’s a mom of children and everything. And so, one of the things your recent posts, you said, you posted something. I like how you post because you give like tips. And you said, “Five ways to help children build emotional resilience.” And this was something that Mariah and Sean just a couple of people on our team, we were just having this discussion. I think Mariah was having a discussion with one of her children and just talking about, you know, just with everything, like everything that happened in 2020 when we say the, some people call it a racial reckoning or uprising, all of that. I call it, I don’t know what to call it. (laughter) But it wasn’t lasting. I call it a racial wreck. Like, I don’t know what to call it. But I do feel like there was an opportunity, there is an opportunity that God was speaking and moving. I think we were on the brink of something. I feel like it was a revival that is brewing to take place. But I think people are stifling and shutting it out. And so I want to say that. And so one of the things that she was saying is that, you know, a lot of young people, a lot of xennials, a lot of Gen Z, Gen Alpha they felt good about the what was happening, but now the rejection of that, not understanding how to handle the pushback and the rejection. And so she was like, “It’s like we got to teach our kids to be steadfast, to be resilient.” That is something that I see that I glean from, you know, the baby boomer generation, you know, from my mom’s generation, from my grandparents’ generation. When I listen to other, older civil rights leader, like just the the faithfulness that they had when things were not going their way. Like there were things that didn’t go their way in their lifetime. There are some people who did not see the passing of the Voting Rights Acts or the Housing Act or the Civil Rights Act. There are some people that did not make it to desegregation. There are some people who did not make it to seeing the end of the Exclusion Act or the you know, internment camps. There’s some people that are still living under the oppression of treaties. But even in that having hope and faith. Being steadfast. And I remember going through just a hard time in 2016, and I heard an old civil rights leader, a more mature civil rights leader say that we didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew that God was working. And that thing hit me. And I was like, I need that. Like, I need to hear that. I need to see that. Like, this is beyond me. This is bigger than me. I can’t hold this. I gotta release this. And that was the thing and I feel like there’s this emotional and physical resilience that we have to pass on to this next generation to help them endure, to help them be faithful when people are facing this. You know? And so can you talk a little bit about emotional resilience and why it is important?

Latasha Morrison  

Yes. I love what you just said. Because the road is very rarely easy. The road toward any significant and lasting change. And was it Dr. Martin Luther King, and you can help me with this, Latasha, that talked about the arc? Right? The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Latasha Morrison  

I think he quoted someone else. I think he quoted someone else. But he gets the credit for saying that because we remember him saying it. Enough has been appropriated from us that we can.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Sometimes we need to get credit that’s undeserved. (laughter) You can cut that out. (laughter) 

Latasha Morrison  

No, we’re good. (laughter) I’m gonna leave it right in there.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Because if your mom is listening to the other part, she can hear this, too. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  

Exactly. Right? (laughter)

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Emotional resilience is a powerful, powerful thing. And that’s something that we wrote about in our first book, Seen, that was geared towards parents and educators. Because what we’ve noticed over the years, especially educators have been telling us this, and I was an educator, I still am an educator, that kids have lost their grit. And so grit is a term that we equate with perseverance, that we equate with emotional resilience. Going through adversity, and not giving up. Which is exactly what you’re talking about. So emotional resilience really does refer to the ability to bounce back from challenging and tough times. And when you talk about the young people feeling let down and maybe even duped. Because boy, we went from, like you said, racial wreck (laughter) to, I mean, can we talk about what’s happening?

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah, we can’t even talk about it now. Like, it’s like, you can’t even mention it. “You’re being divisive.” Or “You need to be silent.” Everything is CRT. So it’s just, uou know how it impacts us as an adult.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yes.

Latasha Morrison  

Because this is a part of our lived history, our experiences that you’re told that, “No, because it makes other people feel bad, you don’t need to talk about that.” So just imagine what’s happening in some of these classrooms where, you know, you can’t talk about the hard things, but other groups like, you know, Asian Americans talk about that history. But that’s considered American history. But Black history isn’t considered American history. 

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

And we wonder why six and seven and eight year old Black boys and girls come home and say, “I don’t like my color. I don’t like being in this color. Can I be tan? Can I be…” I’ve heard it all.

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

I hear a little bit of an echo. But what I want to share is just today I learned, and maybe this happened recently, the day of this recording, which is I don’t know what May 17. I learned that the governor in Florida signed a bill into law that bans the teaching of diversity, equity, and inclusion or bans the funding of those programs and also limits the way that race can be talked about and get this in public institutions in Florida. And so for me, and this is where you know, sometimes I yeah, I probably don’t get it as much as you, Latasha. Because I talk about other things. So I’m not gonna cry about it. But I get some pushback in terms of, you know, things that I say about race being political, and that’s from someone else’s perspective. And that’s fine. Everybody can have their perspective.

Latasha Morrison  

Politics are about people.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Thank you. We care about people. And for me, this is about the things that I have always talked about: worth value, belonging, dignity. So again, think about those students that are in these programs actively studying, researching, and what was just signed into law, let’s take a moment and sit with that. And those are students. So I’m grieving today and again, this may have happened yesterday. But, and by the way, let’s also acknowledge that today is the 69th anniversary of the landmark case Brown vs. the Board of Education, Latasha.

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

So it feels very fitting that we’re having this conversation. And we didn’t plan this. But guess who planned it? God.

Latasha Morrison 

Yeah, I love it. I love it. Let’s go there.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

So at the core of this conversation is belonging, worthiness, value. And I’ve talked to a roomful of moms, sometimes even 500, 600. I think at one point, I talked to 1000 moms about race, those invitations are not coming anymore. But my hope lies in a lot of different areas. But that those moms, even though politicians are telling us one thing, that they still see the value in having these conversations, Because nothing gets healed. So I am the expert on trauma, and I have studied a lot, and I don’t feel super comfortable being called an expert in racial trauma, but I’ve dug deeply into it and what I have learned, among many things, is that healing first and foremost begins with acknowledgement. So when we’re brushing race under the rug, and we’re pretending like it doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist, again, think of the children. And that hurts emotional resilience or that causes sort of shame. But emotional resilience is teaching kids to talk about their feelings, to express their worries, their grief, and also this is very, very important to have strong relationships with supportive parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles. Because that’s the foundation for emotional resilience.

Latasha Morrison  

Yes, that’s so good. Thank you for sharing that. I think, you know, I think we’re all grieving. Everybody’s trying to wrap their head around, how can this be happening? And why would someone want to do this? But we can, the why is a whole nother podcast in and of itself. You know? But just the impact. So we have to prepare as a community. And I think this is the thing is to prepare as a community to make sure that we take care of the children that are in our communities, that there are other resources. I know, for us with Be the Bridge, I’m like, hey, so this is about funding, there’s some things that we can offer. There are some things that we can put together to tool parents to make sure that their children are being cared for in their homes. Churches can make sure that their students are being cared for. Communities this is when you’re going to need allies and accomplices to come around to make sure that we’re  standing together, we’re marching together, we’re protesting together. Because I do believe that there’s more people that are against this than there are for it. But I think they’re paralyzed because of fear and they don’t know what to do. And we see that historically, as a relates to racial issues in our country. And so as Be the Bridge, we want to give people the tools; we want to give people help, come alongside people so that they can stand up for all humans, you know, for biblical justice. Because I know that God would not be backing this. Because we are all about our history, our faith is all about remembrance. There’s so many things in our faith as we, when we take communion, when we do baptism. We just went through Resurrection Sunday. We’re coming up on Pentecost, if it didn’t pass, I don’t think Pentecost has come yet. But it may be passed. I may have missed it. But I’m just saying like, those are things that we’re to remember the glory of God. You know? And this helps us to heal. This helps us to be better Christians. We understand in a natural state, if there was an abusive relationship, the only way forward in that is going to be to talk about what has happened. How did we get here? And so we understand that naturally. So history also is like that. So I love, you give some tips. Like there’s some tips that you give, when it comes to teens and racism and dealing with social unrest. And there was one thing you wrote: Four Tips for Talking to Kids and Teens about Racism and Social Unrest. And this was back in 2020. Girl, I done went through and pulled out stuff we can talk about today. (laughter)

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

I love it.

Latasha Morrison  

You said, find out what your child knows and how they feel about race. Two, you said, be direct and honest about racism and racial justice. Like these are conversations that I know that you have to have with your boys. Because we have to make sure that they understand so that they can be prepared to deal with what is happening in the world around them, because it may save their life. Be okay with not knowing all the answers. That’s the third tip you say. Because that’s important. You’re not going to know everything. There’s some things where we may have to say, “You know what, we’re gonna have to find out.” Or, “We’re gonna find out this together.” We don’t have to have all the answers. I think that’s what a lot of parents feel like they have to know. We get a lot of parents who are like, “I don’t know how to address it.” It’s okay to say, “I don’t know. But we’re gonna find out together; we’re gonna try to look at this together.” And then the other thing is take advantage of the opportunity. This is a opportunity to listen. This is an opportunity to read books together, to watch movies together, to have conversations to, you know, bring your friends around, and to bring community around this. So I love that. And you know, and you said, “My prayer is that as parents, our courage will be to continue to grow exponentially as we navigate these challenging but necessary conversations.” And so I know that these are necessary conversations that we have had to have. And how have you as a parent, had to take your own advice? You know, in this, it’s sometimes it’s easier when you’re helping other people navigate this. But you have two young boys, I think they’re elementary.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

12, they just turned 12 and eight. Yeah.

Latasha Morrison  

Okay, 12 and eight. So how are you as a parent having to navigate this discussion?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Thank you for that question. It is so much easier when you’re helping somebody else. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  

Right. Right.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

There is that feeling. So I do understand it when parents are thinking, “Gosh, I don’t want to make this worse,” or just that destabilizing or that frozen deer in the headlight kind of feeling with your child. But Latasha, I’ll be very, very honest. And this is coming from the Holy Spirit. One of my sons when he was younger several years ago, said, “Mommy, why am I Black?” And of course I (gasp). And so when you ask that question, how do I handle these conversations? You know, so that article came from a real place of experience and certainly from you know, my clients and the families that I serve. But the first advice, and by the way when I work with teenagers, and I would talk to parents, this is the best advice. When your teenager lays something hard or heavy on you about themselves or about their friends or about life, you freak out on the inside, not on the outside. Because, and here’s why, you never want it to be about you. Or you never want to give off the message that this is overwhelming for you. Because they in their love for you and in their care for you will want to protect you. Right? And that’s not what we want them to do. So when I heard my son say this, or when my son said in 2020, “Should I be afraid of police officers?” Two heavy questions. I was like, “Okay, Lord, I see what you’re doing.” I’m writing about racial trauma. (laughter) And now I gotta answer these questions in my own household. So how did I handle it? I took a deep breath. And I remembered my training, which doesn’t always happen when it’s a personal situation. I remembered my training, but it helped that I took that deep breath first, Latasha. And then I remembered that I need to listen. It’s so much more important to hear where these conversations in their heads are coming from. What is influencing them? What, again, have they observed? Children are wonderful observers, but not very great interpreters. Right? How are they interpreting? And this is a household, by the way, at that time, my child was six, two years ago, we didn’t have anything on the TV about what was going on in the world. So we thought, and the world was shut down so we weren’t going anywhere. We thought there was a bubble of protection. But then in our county the school did resume earlier than a lot of counties. I live in Forsyth County in Georgia. And so he was exposed to certain things. So the way that I handled it was I took a deep breath. I asked questions, because I wanted to find out what he knew. And I allowed him to share. And children have this uncanny ability to ask just the right questions when they need those answers. So I didn’t take it any further. And when it came to the color of his skin, I talked about him being made in the image of God. We talked about that yesterday, because he brought up, he was doing research. He’s eight years old. He’s doing a research project on historical figures. And I asked him, “Well who are you writing about, researching?” It’s him and four or five of his friends, different races, ethnicities. He says, “Well, we chose Jackie Robinson.” I was like, “That is amazing!” But then the other part of me, I was like, “What do you know about Jackie Robinson? Like, how are you knowing this information? What are they teaching you? Right? What book are you?”

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

You know? And he talked about Jackie Robinson being discriminated because of the color of his skin. So we sat down, this is literally yesterday.

Latasha Morrison  

Wow.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

We sat down. And I pulled him close. And I said, “How do you feel about that?” And he was like, “Well, it was wrong.” I was like, “Yeah, how else do you feel?” Just kind of gauging where he was. And Latasha, this is what he said. He said, “I’m just so glad that God made Jackie Robinson great. And that people could see his greatness.” And I said, “Yes.” And so I put my hand next to his and I said, “This, my color, and your color is beautiful. Mommy’s taught you that before.” And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Jackie, his color is beautiful. And God made everybody’s color beautiful. And people sometimes don’t understand that. But I want you to understand it. And if someone is being harmed or hurt or made fun of or ostracized because of the color of their skin, I want you to remember that. And I want you to stand up for them.” This was yesterday. Yeah.

Latasha Morrison  

Wow. So this is ongoing. We’re all having these conversations. And you know, and this is the thing, you’re equipped to have these. But there’s sometimes kids that are coming home, and the parent may not feel the same way. And so how are we having that, or maybe they don’t understand how to have that conversation. So they’ll try to ignore it, you know, or not talk about it. And then the child is left to interpret things on their own. And so this is important. You know, those that are listening. I think, also, in the transracial community, there’s a lot of people in our audience that have children who they are one race, but their children are another race. And so this is where conversations and friendships with people who don’t look like you matter. You know, having mentors with people who don’t look like you, having friendships. This is where Be the Bridge groups come into play, where you’re sitting across and you are in proximity of people. This is where sometimes going to a different church where people are in leadership that don’t look like you where you can learn and glean in those environments to help fuel you and educate you to have healthy conversations with that. And having like, just people that support you. Mental health is important for us all. And we want to address the importance of this, especially in the BIPOC community. Because you think, you know, when you think about the world, and what’s really happening and people who are really being impacted, you know, the stresses of America and Black and Brown communities, sometimes I can feel it in my chest. I went to Korea back in the Fall, and I remember having this peace. I was in a country when nobody really looked like me at all. But there was this peace I had because of some of the anxiety of, the balance that we have to live with and deal with here. The triggers the you know, all these things. But for that moment, there’s one thing I’m dealing with inside of Korea, but then there was this peace. So I was like, okay, these are, I was trying to identify some things that are really bothering me, that are not making me feel safe in my country and write those things down. These are some things that are not making me feel safe, where why am I feeling safer here in this country than I do in my own country? And so those were just some really, really hard conversations having to have, you know, honest conversations with yourself. And so, I think this is like the trauma, like right now we’re in the midst of it, but we don’t know what impact this is going to have 10, 15, 20 years. And it’s important, I think what you did for your son and what I’m doing and what, you know, even doing for myself is I’m helping myself interpret what I’m going through. And what you were doing is interpreting what your son was feeling and not isolating him and saying, you know, “I know you understand that,” or “Don’t say that because you’re not supposed to think like that.” And so then they’re afraid to say it, you know, but understanding. So these are conversations. I had a conversation with a lady and she said, “You know, I don’t want my son to feel bad about being white.” And I said, “And I don’t want any Brown children feeling bad about being Brown.” Just like I don’t want a white child feeling bad about being a white. So us talking about this is not about someone feeling bad about themselves, because there are a lot of outliers that we can point to of people who did the right thing.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yes!

Latasha Morrison  

Where everybody else was doing and saying the wrong thing, there are people – that we don’t talk about enough – that stood up for truth.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

That got laws passed. Yes.

Latasha Morrison  

Yes, they got laws passed. You know, and I think we can have this conversation in a healthy way, rather than saying, “We’re not going to have this conversation at all.” Because that’s only going to make matters worse, and we will pay for that as a society, if we continue. So I am so grateful for you. You know, I’m so grateful. There’s so much we could have talked about, like, even PTSD, there’s so many things that we know the impact that’s gonna, that these conversations could benefit us. But if we don’t have the conversations the outcry and the impact of this, you know, the trajectory of this could be, you know, lasting. I know, things that I see in my family that happened that points right back to segregation, and how my great grandfather felt as a man in this country that impacted his family. Those are things that we’re dealing with, the residue of that. And so we will deal with the residue of that. What are some things, one of the things that I ask a lot of the guests, you know, what are some things that you are lamenting right now, you know, as a woman, as a professional, as a mom, as a wife, as a sister, as a daughter? What are some things that Dr. Chinwé is lamenting?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yeah. Quite honestly, the conversation that we just had about that bill that was just passed to essentially defund education about diversity, equity, and race. And if it were just what you mentioned about the conversation you had with the woman that said, “I don’t want my white child to feel badly about themselves,” I would lean into that conversation and so would so many people. Because we would never want that to happen. Let’s have the conversation. The problem is that a lot of this is being stoked by politicians who are very self serving. They have an agenda that is to divide. And as people have faith, and I know not everyone shares the same faith, but as good hearted, moral, amazing people who you and I’ve talk to all the time. I love people. I remember we talked about that that we just love people in that first conversation. (laughter) We love people who don’t think like us. Right? Who don’t have our, who don’t share our experiences. And so you and I have, God has given us this amazing ability, I think to be able to tolerate any sort of discomfort, on most days, with these types of conversations. But what I’m lamenting is that politicians and other people are really stoking fears and negativity that are serving themselves and are also only serving to divide. And I do not believe that that is what God wants. I know that that’s not what God wants. So that’s number one. We’ll yeah, that’s it. That’s my lament.

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah, that’s, I mean, it seems like there’s something, there’s a lot of lament. But then in the midst of this pain, in the midst of this lamenting what is bringing you hope?

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Now, I have a lot of hope. My hope, first and foremost, Latasha, lies in the gospel. Right? The powerful, redeeming gospel that even talks about justice. Right? Isn’t there a Scripture that talks about justice sort of rolling on like a river? I think it’s Amos.

Latasha Morrison  

Micah. In Micah 6:8. Oh, yeah, it’s Amos. I’m sorry. I done jumped around.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

I’m sure Micah had something to say about that, too.

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

So love must prevail. So that’s first and foremost, my hope lies in that. But I gotta tell you, just as we were just talking about I am thankful, feeling very blessed and encouraged by so many of my incredible white brothers and sisters all over. So like, like you said, we hear about things that are happening in Florida and Texas and other parts of the country. And then I walk into a room to talk about race, and it’s 500, 800, 1000 moms that are like taking notes. How can I lean in, right? So to your point more people are on board with this. So let’s lean into that. And that makes me so happy. Because, as you said earlier, we’ve got to do this together. Right? For the sake of our children, for the sake of our community, for the sake of the church, we won’t even talk about deconstruction. We’re not even going there. You know, I’m deconstructing my faith, right? There’s like a whole thing. But we don’t lead into to ask young people, why? We just sort of have this knee jerk reaction to it. But our world needs this togetherness. I think the gospel demands it. I’m not a formal minister. I’m not in ministry full time. But I do love Jesus. I’ve loved Jesus for a long time. I’ve been in my Bible, and I do believe that the gospel demands this justice. So that’s number one. Number two, and this really makes my heart sing. I was invited to do a talk that was designed, conceived, designed, planned by 100 middle and high schoolers, Latasha, here in Atlanta. It was actually in the Gwinnett School District. And the 100 kids that applied to be a part of this. They call it the Super Intendant Student Summit. It was like an advisory council where students can have a voice in what happens in their schools and in their classrooms.

Latasha Morrison  

Love it.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

They did not plan this, but God did. 100 of these students mirrored the school system on racial, ethnicity, and religion. It mirrored the breakdown of the school system in those areas. And I was like, “That’s amazing.” And then they asked a question, “What do you want? We’re going to have an event. We’re going to bring everybody together. What are the two topics you want us to find speakers to talk about?” Latasha, when I tell you those two topics, were number one, mental health, and number two, diversity. Diversity.

Latasha Morrison  

We’re not asking them. We’re not asking them. That’s what even some of the kids in Florida are saying, “Like, no one asked us. Like you’re making these decisions.” Because this is the world they live in. I mean, their communities, their social media, like this is the world they’re living in. And this, I’m telling you, this generation is not playing around.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

They’re not having it. They’re not having it.

Latasha Morrison  

They’re not having it. They’re not falling for the okey doke. And so and we shouldn’t either. Are we ever gonna learn? But you were talking, I wanted to go back to that scripture. You were talking about Amos five and then 24. And so, it reads, “But let justice justice roll down like waters of righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” And so justice, like flows, like when you think about like a river, and how it constantly, like even in a river and how justice flows, sometimes a river is is peaceful. But sometimes it’s raging. You know? And so I think, you know, right now, like, the river is raging. The river is raging. I think we have to pay attention to what’s happening. And we do have to start talking to one another. We have to talk to our children. I’m so grateful for the work that you’re doing, for the book that you have written. And I want to go back to that because we’re going to put it all in the notes. But you know, like your book is touching on anxiety, trauma resolution, codependency, difficult breakups, stress management, self esteem, self worth, intimacy, relationship issues, young adult issues, life transitions and women’s wellness. Like, that’s a lot of stuff. 

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Well, its not, I’m so sorry to interrupt you, Latasha. It’s not all in the book. Those are the things that I enjoy talking about.

Latasha Morrison  

Yes, yes.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

That would be a lot in a book. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  

I know I’m like, wait a minute! Yeah, those are your clinical specialties. Yes. But the book is called Beyond the Spiral: Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything Anxiety Tells You. And about Dr. Chinwé, these are her clinical specialties that I mentioned, as it relates to anxiety, trauma resolution, codependency, difficult breakups, stress management. So you want to follow her. She gives some helpful tips, you know, on social media. And purchase the book. And so we’re gonna have all of this in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking this time. You know, I think you know, when this is going to be released in July, it will be National BIPOC Mental Health Awareness month. So I would love for you to close out with an encouraging word to those that are in the BIPOC community that are listening, that are maybe feeling weighted down, that are feeling unseen, that are feeling unheard, that are feeling just stepped on in the midst of everything that’s happening right now in their world and in our world. What encouraging word would you leave for them? 

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Yeah, thank you for that Latasha. Very briefly, being seen, as you, you didn’t even know I was going to share this. But you used that word, not feeling very seen. Being being seen and heard is actually essential to healing. And that, again, is by design, because our Father, our Heavenly Father is a God of relationships. And he’s designed us to be in relationships. So that is really my final word is to, for those of you who are listening who are struggling, not feeling very seen and heard, connect with people. Connect with friends, all different backgrounds, who can engage in these conversations. And they don’t even have to say much, they just have to mindfully listen, which is such a powerful tool. That will enable you to process your thoughts and your emotions. Engage in prayer, mindfulness activities, somatic practices, which you can do with a therapist, but you could also pull it up on YouTube and just do some things to help you move your body. And then finally, self care is not selfish. Self care is not self indulgent. Self care enables you to keep going. Again, about the arc of justice is long. We need emotional resilience. But we also need the support of people. And we need to take care of ourselves.

Latasha Morrison  

Yeah, thank you so much. and I know this is going to be helpful to so many people. Thank you for your time. And I’m so grateful for the work that you are doing. So thank you so much for joining us on the Be the Bridge Podcast. And so those who are listening. You know, even the solutions that she just suggested, this is what we find in community in our Be the Bridge groups. And I’ve spoken to so many people that said, you know, “Becoming a part of that group or becoming becoming a part of this community, for the first time I felt seen. There was someone that was going through something similar that I thought I was the only one,” or “Connecting with like minded people.” We hear all types of stories. So make sure you connect that information and how to get plugged in to get connected in a group. We’ll put those in the show notes. And how do you get more involved, we’ll put those in the show notes. But I’m so grateful for you, Dr. Chinwé. Thank you for joining us on the Be the Bridge Podcast.

Dr. Chinwé Williams  

Thank you Latasha. I admire you and work of Be the Bridge so much. So keep going and rest when you need to.

Narrator  

Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.