By Jennifer Lugo – Collegiate Staff
Wednesday night, Dr. Consuela Ward spoke on her book about healing for the Diversity Lecture Series at Fountain Street Church. She has been educating people now for more than 20 years on how to implement self care, including teaching yourself when to move and slow down.
“I studied the patterns of how I would feel right before I make a decision, to teach me when to move, and when to slow down,” Ward said. “But how often are we told to do that? Maybe you get a tingling in your elbow right before you do something you shouldn’t do. Maybe you get a little tingling in your knee right before you go forth to do what you’re doing. But you’ve got to pay attention to that. You’ve got to study it.”
Wednesday night’s lecture attracted a diverse crowd. A communication class, a healthcare worker, and even a youth group of teenagers from a local nonprofit organization were in attendance as well.
What was amazing to Tiffany Fant, 29, of Grand Rapids, was to hear Ward speak words of healing and encouragement to everyone, despite the title of her book, “On Healing Black Girl Pain,” with a group of eight teenage girls in attendance with her.
“A lot of the things that she spoke about are things we try to relate to the younger generation, the mentees,” Fant said. “Just to let them know that there’s more out here than what we were taught, and you won’t find out until you research for yourself and go to different events where it’s being exposed.”
Fant attended the lecture with a group of teenage girls, to hear Ward, black educator and speaker, stand up for her beliefs and speak her mind.
Ward spoke about forgiving yourself, not allowing others to define you, and embracing your gifts. She said that our time, health, and gifts are all forms of currency, and can be used to empower us.
“Everything that she talked about I’m going through, like inner peace and happiness, figuring out what’s going on with my body and what makes me happy,” Fant said. “I can relate to it.”
Ward said there’s a way everyone can connect, if they find it.
“I think part of the healing for white people is to listen to black voices and find a connection and not just think they’re for black people.”
Erin Ellis, a 21-year-old Aquinas College student, came with her public speaking class. She embraced Ward’s reassuring words.
“Me, personally, I’ve been going through quite a bit in my life, and knowing and hearing her speak about it, it was like a reaffirmation that everything is going to be okay,” Ellis said.
Community members laughed at Ward’s jokes as they listened to her stories and knowledge. But when Ward got serious, the crowd fell silent.
“I started looking at the education that I received in both black churches and white schools, and how that shaped my identity as a black woman in the south,” said Ward, in reference to her story. “My hope is for you to connect with it, as I was able to connect back to my roots.”
At one time in her life, Ward said she got to a point where she was so low, and she knew she needed help. What got her to that point? Ward said white supremacy, patriarchy and religion. She feels strongly that these are all major problems within our society.
Daphne Herndon, 53, of Grand Rapids, said she came to hear Ward because her employer sponsors the event.
I’m finally at a point in my life where I’ve embraced myself, and healed,” Herndon said. “Like she said, the whole forgiveness journey. Well, I have forgiven myself. So I can look in the mirror, and like who I see. I just wanted to hear how she got there.”
Ward reflected on her beliefs, and talked to the audience about connecting to spirit.
“My talks resonate heavily about healing, connection to spirit, to the community, and the divine feminine,” Ward said. “A sign when you know you are connected to spirit is when in a part of your community where you are, there is an extreme love for children, the elderly and nature.”