Before and during the Black Lives Matter campaign that grew in 2020, I was completely unaware of what unconscious bias was and that I could possibly have any. I was unaware of what it was like to be a person of color in America and that our experiences could be so vastly different. All that to say, I’ve learned a lot from Dameda JoLynn over the last year. Not only because she so kindly share’s her black experience and helps me to understand the world in a new way, but also because she has shined a light on the ways I too have been a part of the problem and opened up new ways to be a part of the solution.
Who is Dameda JoLynn, you might ask?
Dameda is the Co-Creator of the Dameda JoLynn Enterprise that is committed to uplifting, educating & empowering anyone in search of intimate conversations that lead to conscious and purposeful action through self-discovery and healing with the intention to dismantle systemic racism and reimagine & create new systems that liberate all peoples.
Dameda’s passion for right speech—using communication as a way to develop insight to further understand herself and others—is at the core of everything she is committed to and as a healer, entrepreneur, speaker, & an up and coming podcaster & writer, this truth shines through. Dameda has been building and facilitating healing & anti-racist curriculums individually, within corporations, and in community for the past three years and immerses herself in that work with pride & purpose with the intention to create compassionate spaces that imbue hope for change and uncloak inner truths that transform.
As a Black woman, Dameda’s experience in anti-racism work is direct, as she effectively empowers & advocates for herself in white-centric spaces by bringing attention to implicit bias and the conscious and purposeful action required to move towards creating anti-racist environments. She has also spent time in the corporate space as a mediator where she focuses on bridging cross-cultural relationships through conscious communication that is built on a foundation of honor and trust.
Dameda is a woman who finds her flow in the natural unfolding of life, understanding that acceptance, curiosity, & non-judgement are essential to this flow, and so it is how she lives — with an openness & willingness to meet humans where they are while challenging them —with love and compassion—to envision a world that exists beyond their indoctrinated
beliefs and ideologies and that unites us through our shared humanity.
By no means do I have it right (or even close to right) but bringing things to light is the very first step to making any sort of change, and that’s what Dameda helps do in her anti-racism work when working specifically with white people.
So.. let’s bring some things to light.
In this Podcast You’ll Learn:
• What was Dameda’s spiritual upbringing like?
• What brought her into the role as a teacher both in yoga and your anti-racism work.
• Why Dameda chose specifically to work within white communities.
• How it feels to be the only black woman in the room during some of these conversations
• In what ways has the anti-racism work affected Dameda’s views of black people in America or herself as a black woman.
• In what ways has it affected the way she sees white people.
• There are a lot of reasons that people start and stop this kind of deep personal work, words of encouragement for those who are wanting to quit.
• Where to begin in this conversation
Links from the Episode
Learn more about Dameda and her services
Check out my doc of resources to begin the conversation on race
Note From Dameda
After our call Dameda had a few more things she wanted to share in regards to this work so I’ll leave those words here:
It’s important to mention that embodied anti-racism work IS VERY MUCH the responsibility of white-bodied peoples that looks very different than the work required of bodies of color, which means that the focus of anti-racism work for white-bodied peoples needs to be focused around both, what it means to experience the world from a white-body while moving towards understanding what it means to experience the world as a body of color.
In addition, in order to create and sustain an embodied anti-racist society, it is important for white-bodied peoples to realize their role in white supremacist ideology and thus systemic racism, both in their silence and in their action. That is, a reckoning is necessary that requires self-interrogatory practices inside of curiosity, truth-telling, grace, and love that widens the view into the systemic oppressive practices, policies, structures and procedures that go well beyond the white-bodied individual.
Within this, it is important that white-bodied peoples allow themselves to experience the emotions that arise inside of this very important work without attachment. In other words, feel the guilt and shame that arise inside of the work, and then release yourself from it so to get to the work at hand—RACIAL HEALING through racial justice so to build equitable systems that liberate ALL peoples.
(Please note that bodies of color contend with guilt and shame from the internalized oppressive perspective and it is as important that we approach guilt and shame with a similar vibration of gentleness.)
With deep gratitude and honor,
About the Art
Originally for this podcast, Dameda and I had talked about using the goddess Nana Buluku as the representation for this episode. As I started to move away from specifically using archetypes and goddesses for the podcast I didn’t feel a strong pull for how I would create the imagery for her. However, when Dameda shared the story of the starfish, one that has sat with me since my time of living in Africa and always been a visual that I was drawn toward, I knew that was the image to represent this story. With her permission, we shifted gears and I instead went with the imagery of a “little Dameda” picking up starfish off the beach.
Of course, this isn’t actually Dameda, its the representation of a black girl making an impact on the world as a child. An image that many black women could find themselves in, which is the point of my paintings after all–that we can find a piece of ourselves in them.
I did this painting digitally as I was traveling a lot in the summer months and wouldn’t have access to my studio. I loved how the stars and the water came out most. Probably because there was less of a focus on perfection and more of a focus on essence.
The little girl in this image also came to take shape with the use of 3-4 different reference photos for hair, body, posture and skin color. Together they turned into this sweet little girl picking up a pink starfish ready to throw it back into the ocean, making a difference in a single creatures life. The moral of the story to start small, start where you are, and create big change.